National Statistics

Asylum

Updated 26 May 2016

Valid: 26 May 2016 to 24 August 2016

All data below relate to the year ending March 2016 and all comparisons are with the year ending March 2015, unless indicated otherwise.

Back to ‘Immigration statistics January to March 2016’ content page.

1. Key facts

Asylum applications from main applicants increased by 38% to 34,687 in the year ending March 2016, the highest number of applications since the year ending September 2004 (36,305). The largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Iran (4,305), followed by Eritrea (3,321), Iraq (2,805), Sudan (2,769), Pakistan (2,669) and Syria (2,539). Including dependants, the number of asylum applications increased by 30% to 41,563 in the year ending March 2016. There was around 1 dependant for every 5 main applicants.

Grant rates vary between nationalities; for example, at initial decision, the grant rate for Iranian nationals was 46% (1,235 grants), compared with 14% (210 grants) for Iraqi nationals. Overall, there were 10,549 grants at initial decision for all nationalities in the year ending March 2016, which corresponds to a grant rate of 40%.

There were 1,981 grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection to Syrian main applicants at initial decision in the year ending March 2016, with a grant rate of 87%. In addition, 1,667 people (including dependants) were granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). On 7 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the existing Syrian VPRS. Through this expansion, it is proposed that 20,000 Syrians in need of protection will be resettled in the UK by 2020. A total of 1,854 people have been resettled since the Syrian VPR scheme began, including 1,602 arriving since October 2015.

A total of 2,441 people were resettled in the UK in the year ending March 2016. On 21 April 2016, the government announced a new scheme designed with UNHCR (the UN agency for refugees) to resettle children from the Middle East and North Africa region. The new scheme aims to support vulnerable and refugee children at risk, and their families, with a view of resettling up to 3,000 individuals over the course of this parliament.

Most applications for asylum are made by people already in the country (91% of applications in the year ending March 2016) rather than immediately on arrival in the UK at a port. In 2014, two-thirds (66%) of applicants were male and over three-quarters (78%) of applicants were aged under 35.

In the year ending March 2016, the number of initial decisions on asylum applications increased by 3% to 26,618. Of these decisions, 40% (10,549) were grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection, the same proportion as the previous year. A separate Home Office analysis shows that for the years 2011 to 2013, 32% of decisions were granted initially, with this proportion rising to 45% after appeal.

Estimated figures show the UK had the ninth highest number (42,000) of asylum applications within the EU in the year ending March 2016, including dependants. Germany (562,000), Sweden (159,000) and Hungary (142,000) were the three EU countries that received the highest number of asylum applications, together accounting for 62% of asylum applications in the EU in that period.

2. Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants

Year Total applications Total Initial decisions Granted (1) Granted as a % of initial decisions Refused Refused as a % of initial decisions
Year ending March 2012 19,826 16,970 5,778 34% 11,192 66%
Year ending March 2013 22,635 17,561 6,592 38% 10,969 62%
Year ending March 2014 23,812 15,141 5,487 36% 9,654 64%
Year ending March 2015 25,130 25,922 10,348 40% 15,574 60%
Year ending March 2016 34,687 26,618 10,549 40% 16,069 60%
Change: latest year +9,557 +696 +201 - +495 -
Percentage change +38% +3% +2% - +3% -

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Asylum table as 01 q.
(1) Granted includes grants of Asylum, Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary Leave, leave to remain under family life or private life rules, Leave Outside the Rules and UASC Leave.

The chart below shows the annual number of asylum applications made since 2001.

Shows the number of asylum applications made between 2001 and the latest calendar year.  Falls in asylum applications since 2002. Asylum applications have, however, been increasing each year since 2010. The data are available in Table as 01.

4. Nationalities applying for asylum

In the year ending March 2016, the largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Iran (4,305), followed by Eritrea (3,321), Iraq (2,805), Sudan (2,769), Pakistan (2,669) and Syria (2,539). In the same period, asylum applications from Iraqi nationals more than quadrupled to 2,805, from 695 in the year ending March 2015.

World events have an effect on who applies for asylum at any particular time. For example, the number of applicants from Syria increased sharply following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in early 2011. The 2,539 applications for asylum from Syrian nationals in the year ending March 2016 compares with 125 in the year ending March 2011. In addition, increasing numbers of people have sought asylum from other countries where there are concerns over human rights. For example, in the year ending March 2016, there were 3,321 asylum applications from nationals of Eritrea compared to 733 in the year ending March 2011.

There were 1,981 grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection to Syrian nationals, at initial decision, in the year ending March 2016 (a grant rate of 87%). (This is in addition to the 1,667 people, including dependants, who were granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme during this period.) Refused asylum applications for Syrians may include some cases where it was found that the applicant did not hold Syrian nationality.

The grant rate at initial decision for Eritrean nationals has fallen recently, coinciding with the publication of updated country information and guidance on illegal exit and national service in Eritrea in March 2015. In the year ending March 2016, the proportion of initial decisions for Eritrean nationals that were grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection was 42%, compared with 86% in the previous year. This has also been reflected in an increase in the number of appeals lodged by Eritrean nationals, from 224 in the year ending March 2015 to 1,760 in year ending March 2016. Of appeals determined in the year ending March 2016, 85% of those by Eritrean nationals were allowed, compared with 43% in the previous year.

Grant rates for asylum and other forms of protection vary considerably between nationalities. For example, at initial decision, the grant rate for Iranian nationals was 46% (1,235 grants), compared with 14% (210 grants) for Iraqi nationals. Overall, there were 10,549 grants at initial decision for all nationalities in the year ending March 2016, which corresponds to a grant rate of 40%.

Countries with highest number of applications for asylum in the UK, year ending March 2016 compared to year ending March 2015

Ranking in year ending March 2016 (Year ending March 2015) Nationality Year ending March 2015 Year ending March 2016 Grant rate based on initial decisions (%)
1 (4) Iran 1,995 4,305 46%
2 (1) Eritrea 3,551 3,321 42%
3 (11) Iraq 695 2,805 14%
4 (5) Sudan 1,605 2,769 85%
5 (2) Pakistan 2,431 2,669 18%
6 (3) Syria 2,185 2,539 87%

Table notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Asylum table as 01 q.
(1) Grant rates relate to the number of grants for Asylum, Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary Leave or other grants of stay, as a proportion of all initial decisions made in the year ending March 2016.
(2) Initial decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period and exclude the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.

5. Resettlement

In addition to those asylum seekers who apply in the UK, resettlement schemes are offered to those who have been referred to the Home Office by UNHCR (the UN agency for refugees).

In the year ending March 2016, a total of 2,441 people were resettled in the UK through this process. Of these, 1,667 were also granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). In the year ending March 2016, 49% (824) of those resettled under the Syrian VPRS were under 18 years old, and 49% (818) were female.

On 7 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the existing Syrian VPRS. Through this expansion, it is proposed that 20,000 Syrians in need of protection will be resettled in the UK by 2020. A total of 1,854 people have been granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian VPRS since the scheme began. Between the start of October 2015 and the end of March 2016, 1,602 people have been resettled under the Syrian VPRS across 71 different local authorities. These data are available in table as_20_q (volume 4 of the Asylum data tables).

On 21 April 2016, the government announced they will work with UNHCR (the UN agency for refugees) to resettle children from the Middle East and North Africa region. The new scheme aims to support vulnerable and refugee children at risk and their families, with a view of resettling up to 3,000 individuals over the course of this parliament.

6. Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC)

An Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child (UASC) is a person under 18, or who, in the absence of documentary evidence establishing age, appears to be under that age, is applying for asylum in his or her own right and has no relative or guardian in the United Kingdom.

There were 3,206 asylum applications from UASC in the year ending March 2016, a 57% rise compared to the year ending March 2015 (2,046). Overall, UASC applications represented 9% of all main applications for asylum. Despite the recent increase in UASC applications, they remain below the peak of 4,060 in the year ending September 2008. The nationalities that lodged the highest numbers of UASC applications in the UK were Afghan (709), Eritrean (645) then Albanian (425). These three countries contributed to more than half (55%) of total applications.

There were 1,982 initial decisions for UASC in the year ending March 2016, 19% higher than the previous year (1,671). Of these, 73% were grants, compared with 67% in the year ending March 2015.

7. International comparisons

Figures in this section are based on data supplied by the individual countries to the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC), UNHCR and Eurostat. Not all countries provide the latest data in time for each Immigration Statistics release. Where a figure is unavailable for a given month, we estimate it using the average of the last 3 months available, unless the time series is erratic, when we use the average of the last 12 months.

Including dependants, the total number of asylum applications to the European Union in the year ending March 2016 was an estimated 1,392,000. This is more than double the number in the year ending March 2015 (684,000).

Top EU countries receiving asylum applications, year ending March 2016

(Total number of applications 1,392,000 including dependants; some estimated data)

The chart shows the top EU countries receiving asylum applications in the year ending March 2016. UK had 9th highest; 7th last year. The data are available in Table as 07 q.

Chart notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Asylum table as 07 q.
(1) Figures are rounded to the nearest 1,000 and so may not sum to the total.
(2) The estimated figures in this chart are based on data supplied to IGC and UNHCR.

In the fourth quarter of 2015 (October to December), the latest provisional Eurostat data, Asylum quarterly report show that the non-EU nationalities with the highest number of persons seeking asylum in the EU as a whole were Syrian, Afghan and Iraqis. The highest number of first-time asylum applications in October to December 2015 were registered in Germany (162,540 applications, or 38% of total applications in the EU), followed by Sweden (87,885; 21%) and Austria (30,805; 7%). The UK received 11,695 first-time applications; 3% of the EU total. Germany received 86,330 applications from Syrians and 14,585 from Afghans followed by Iraqis (13,900) and Albanians (9,475). These numbers exclude resettlement cases additionally accepted through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Between October and December 2015, the proportion of positive asylum decisions (for all non-EU nationalities) in Germany was 72% compared with 64% in Sweden and 37% in the UK. The average grant rate for a particular member state will reflect the nationalities of the people applying for asylum in that country and their respective likelihood of those nationalities being accepted as refugees. In Germany, the people with the highest number granted refugee status between October and December 2015 were Syrians (56,435) and Eritreans (5,980). In contrast, only 40 Albanians were granted refugee status in the whole of the EU over the same period, out of a total of 15,525 first instance decisions for Albanian nationals.

When comparing figures for different EU Member States, it is important to bear in mind there are differences in the collection and reporting methodologies, as well as how asylum applications are processed, which may influence the comparability of the figures.

8. Outcome of asylum applications

The most recent data report on initial decisions made on asylum applications by the Home Office. However, some decisions will be challenged at the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, which considers appeals against the asylum decisions made by the Home Office.

The Home Office produces an analysis of applications for whole year cohorts of asylum seekers, in order to present the overall success rates following appeal. For most years, this will provide the most complete description of the outcome for asylum seekers; however, for the most recent years some cases will still be outstanding, as they have had less time to be processed. The analysis therefore only provides a ‘snapshot’ of the recorded outcomes of the group (or cohort) of asylum applicants in any one year, at a particular time. This dataset is updated, in full, annually and is currently available up to 2014.

8.1 Outcome of applications made between 2011 and 2013

The following chart gives an illustration of outcomes in the asylum system in the UK, for applications made in the years 2011 to 2013 (inclusive), where the outcome is known.

Indicative flows through the UK asylum system, where outcomes known, 2011 to 2013 data

This flow chart shows indicative flows through the UK asylum system, where outcomes known, 2011 to 2013 data.

Chart notes

(1) Assumes all appeals lodged are as a result of a refused application. Latest data for 2011 to 2013 show 70% of all refusals resulted in an appeal being lodged.
(2) Figures are derived by combining data from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 cohort data from Table as 06.
(3) Cases where initial decision or appeal outcomes are unknown are not included in this analysis.
(4) Grant rates shown here relate to the outcomes of total applications made in each cohort year, and take withdrawn applications into account. They are therefore not directly comparable with the annual grant rates shown in the earlier table ‘Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants’, which gives grants as a percentage of total initial decisions made each year.

8.2 Currently recorded outcomes for 2014 applications

Of the 25,033 main applicants who applied for asylum in 2014, 20,585 initial decisions had been made as at August 2015 when the statistics were compiled, including 9,230 grants and 11,355 refusals. A total of 8,436 appeals were lodged against decisions made on applications from 2014. Of these, 42% (3,553) were dismissed, 19% (1,635) were granted asylum or another form of protection and 38% were either withdrawn or the outcome was unknown at the time the statistics were compiled.

The outcomes for the 2014 cohort, as with previous years, will be updated in subsequent annual reports. However, , as at August 2015, it is estimated that 10,865 (43%) main applicants had been granted asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave either at initial decision or after appeal; 8,634 (34%) had been refused; and around a fifth (22%; 5,534) were awaiting confirmation of an initial decision.

Outcome of asylum applications, by year of application

The chart shows the outcome of asylum applications made between 2004 and the latest calendar year as at August 2015. The data are available in Table as_06.

Chart notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Asylum table as 06.
(1) Chart shows the proportion of recorded outcomes of applications made in 2014, as at August 2015.
(2) Due to the large variety of routes that an asylum application can take to a final outcome, the analysis of the outcomes of asylum applications in any one year requires interpretation for a small percentage of cases. The proportions and underlying figures for final outcomes of the analysis of applications for the group (or cohort) of applicants in any one year, are therefore estimated.
(3) The proportion of applications awaiting the outcome of an initial decision or an appeal will inherently be lower in earlier years as there has been longer for the cases to be processed than those from more recent years.

The overall proportion of applications granted asylum or a form of temporary protection, either at initial decision or after having an appeal allowed, was estimated to be 26% in 2004; this proportion has steadily increased to 43% of applications made in 2014 (where the outcome is known), as shown in the above chart.

In addition, the outcome analysis also shows how the final grant rates vary by country of nationality. For example, in 2014, 78% of Eritrean nationals applying in 2014 were granted asylum or another form of protection following initial decision and after appeal, compared with 25% of Pakistani applicants.

The recorded outcomes of asylum applications made in 2015 are due to be published in August 2016.

9. Support provided to asylum seekers

At the end of March 2016, 35,683 asylum seekers and their dependants were being supported in the UK under Section 95 (either in supported accommodation or receiving subsistence only support), compared with 30,476 at the end of March 2015. Although this number has risen since 2012, the figure remains considerably below that for the end of 2003 (the start of the published data series), when there were 80,123 asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support.

Asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support, by local authority, per million population, as at the end of March 2016

This map shows the number of asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support, by local authority, per million population, as at end of March 2016.

Chart notes

Source: Home Office, Immigration Statistics January to March 2016, Asylum table as 16 q; Population figures sourced from the ONS 2014 Mid-year population estimates, published 25 June 2015.

The number of asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support by local authority, as at the end of each quarter, is available in table as_16_q (volume 4 of the Asylum data tables).

There were 3,640 failed asylum seekers and their dependants receiving support (under Section 4) at the end of March 2016. Failed asylum seekers (main applicants only) receiving support under Section 4 peaked at the end of September 2009 (12,019).

10. Applications pending

At the end of March 2016, 26,492 applications (received since April 2006) from main applicants were pending a decision (initial decision, appeal or further review), 22% more than at the end of March 2015 (21,651). The number pending an initial decision for more than 6 months increased by 62% (from 3,127 to 5,059) while those pending further review decreased by 16% to 7,364.

11. Asylum appeals

The HM Courts and Tribunals Service received 12,799 asylum appeals from main applicants in the year ending March 2016, a 15% rise compared with the previous year (11,082).

Appeal determinations have increased from 6,885 in the year ending March 2015 to 8,847 in the year ending March 2016. These figures remain below the peaks in the number of appeals and the number of determinations in the year ending June 2010, which were 16,560 and 16,032 respectively. In the year ending March 2016, the proportion of determined appeals that were dismissed was 56%, while 39% of appeals were allowed and 5% were withdrawn.

12. Returns

In the year ending March 2016, there were 2,811 enforced removals of people who had previously sought asylum (including dependants), down 36% from the previous year (4,383). This figure is 76% lower than the peak in 2004 (11,743) when this data series began. This long-term decrease in the enforced removal of those who had sought asylum reflects the lower number of asylum applications since 2002. In the same period there were 1,860 voluntary returns of people who had sought asylum at some stage.

Figures on asylum returns are available in volumes 1 and 3 of the Returns tables.

13. Age disputes

Some asylum applicants claim to be children but there may be doubts as to whether this is in fact the case. In the year ending March 2016, 954 asylum applicants had their age disputed and 843 were recorded as having an age assessment. Of those who completed age assessments in the year ending March 2016, 69% were assessed to be over 18, despite claiming to be a child when the age dispute was raised.

14. Dependants

Including dependants, the number of asylum applications increased by 30% from 32,036 in the year ending March 2015 to 41,563 in the year ending March 2016. This is an average of 1 dependant for every 5 main applicants. In the same period, 7,095 initial decisions were made relating to dependants. Of these 1,861 (26%) were grants of asylum, or an alternative form of protection, and 5,234 (74%) were refusals.

15. Data tables

Data referred to here can be found in the following tables:

Asylum vol. 1: Tables as 01 to as 02
The following tables are included in this volume:
as 01 Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants, by country of nationality
as 01 q Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants, by country of nationality
as 02 Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants and dependants, by country of nationality

Asylum vol. 2: Tables as 02 q to as 06
The following tables are included in this volume:
as 02 q Asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants and dependants, by country of nationality
as 03 Asylum applications from main applicants, by age, sex and country of nationality
as 04 Asylum applications from main applicants and dependants, by age, sex and country of nationality
as 05 Asylum initial decisions from main applicants, by sex and country of nationality
as 06 Outcome analysis of asylum applications, as at August 2015

Asylum vol. 3: Tables as 07 to as 13 q
The following tables are included in this volume:
as 07 Asylum applications received in Europe and elsewhere for main applicants and dependants
as 07 q Asylum applications received in Europe and elsewhere for main applicants and dependants
as 08 Asylum applications received from Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, excluding dependants, by sex and age at time of application
as 08 q Asylum applications received from Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, excluding dependants, by sex and age at time of application
as 09 Initial decisions on asylum applications from Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, excluding dependants, by sex and age at initial decision
as 09 q Initial decisions on asylum applications from Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, excluding dependants, by sex and age at initial decision
as 10 Age disputes raised and resolved for asylum applicants, by country of nationality
as 10 q Age disputes raised and resolved for asylum applicants, by country of nationality
as 11 Asylum main applicants accepted onto the fast-track process, by country of nationality
as 12 Outcomes of asylum main applicants accepted onto the fast-track process
as 13 q Main applicants refused asylum and eligible for the non-suspensive appeals process, by country of nationality

Asylum vol. 4: Tables as 14 to as 20 q
The following tables are included in this volume:
as 14 Asylum appeal applications and determinations, by country of nationality and sex
as 14 q Asylum appeal applications and determinations, by country of nationality
as 15 Applications for asylum support, by support type and nationality
as 16 q Asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support, by local authority, as at end of quarter
as 17 q Asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support, by country of nationality and UK region, as at end of quarter
as 18 q Asylum seekers in receipt of Section 4 or Section 98 support, and decisions to grant Section 4 support
as 19 q Refugees (and others) resettled, including dependants
as 20 q Refugees (and others) resettled under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme, including dependants, by local authority

16. Background Information

This section covers asylum applications, initial decisions, estimated final outcomes, resettlement, Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC), international comparisons, estimated final outcomes, support, appeals, returns and age disputes.

16.1 Migration Transparency Data webpage

A range of key input and impact indicators are currently published by the Home Office on the Migration transparency data webpage.