Asylum applications made in the last 12 months

There were 31,115 asylum applications (main applicants only) in the UK in the year ending March 2021, a 4% decrease from the previous year. The figures will have been impacted by the measures taken in response to COVID-19.

In the year ending June 2021, the top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Iran, Albania, Eritrea, Sudan and Iraq.

In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 17th highest in Europe.

As the UK’s involvement in the Dublin II arrangements ended , the government now makes decisions to seek another country’s agreement to process the claim on an individual basis.

Having laid new rules and guidance that came into force at the very end of 2020 the Home Office now issues ‘notices of intent’ telling the applicant it is making  enquiries of other countries through which the person seeking asylum has travelled.

In the first six months of 2021, 4,561 people were issued with notices of intent of whom 7 were deemed inadmissible. None has been transferred to another country under the inadmissibility rules.

54% of initial decisions made in the year to June 2021 have been grants of protection, meaning they have been awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection.  A total of 9,652 people were granted protection in year ending June 2021 as a result of an asylum claim, a 23% reduction from the previous year where 12,472 people were granted protection.

The Home Office also grants other forms of leave to people who have claimed asylum, as well as grants of protection through the resettlement programmes. Over the last 12 months, 10,725 people were granted status in the UK through the asylum system or resettlement programmes.

This is 37% lower than the previous year, the drop in grants is due to fewer initial decisions being made on asylum applications (13,929 decisions compared with 18,239 in the previous year), as well as the pause to resettlement activity after March 2020, both a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year to June 2021 was 48% up from 45% the previous year.  The appeal success rate has been steadily increasing over the last decade (up from 29% in 2010).

 The quality of decision making is often poor, with many refugees having to rely on the courts to award protection following an appeal of the Government’s initial decision. The appeals process can be complex and lengthy, with people seeking asylum having to wait months for their appeals to be heard.

Thousands of people have to wait years for a final decision on their claim, meaning they are left in limbo and unable to plan for their futures.

The backlog in cases awaiting an initial decision continued to rise to another record high.  At the end of June 2021, 70,905 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum. Of these, 54,040 (76%) have been waiting for more than 6 months, up from 38,756 this time last year. Whilst there has been a steady rise in this backlog for the last few years, the impact of Covid-19 on the decision making process has exacerbated this further.

Each one of these represents a person anxiously awaiting news of their fate, with no idea how much longer they will be forced to live in poverty.

At the end of June 2021, 62,871* people seeking asylum were being supported by the Government. This figure has started to drop after continually rising since 2012 (at the end of December 2020, it was 64,041).

The latest figures show that there were 10,682 individuals in receipt of support under Section 98, almost double the number from the same time in the previous year (5,444)

People seeking asylum are banned from working and are provided with just over £5 per day from the Government to cover the costs of their basic necessities. Could you live on just £5 per day?

*This includes people supported under Section 95, Section 4 and Section 98 of the Immigration Act 1999.


of applications granted asylum or protection at initial decision stage in the year ending June 2021

The UK Government has the power to detain people who are here seeking refuge. Sometimes this even includes children. There is no maximum time limit in place for people held in detention, meaning people are held indefinitely.

The latest statistics show that there were 1,550 people in detention in immigration removal centres at the end of June 2021; among them were 1,007 people seeking asylum. This equates to a 245% increase from the previous year.

In the same period, there were 12,840 occurrences of people being released back into the community, indicating flaws in the Government’s detention regime.

Despite a Government promise in 2010 to end the practice of detaining children, there were 113 occurrences of children entering immigration detention by the end of June 2021.

In the last 12 months, there were 2,756 applications from unaccompanied children, 15% fewer than the previous year; accounting for 9% of total asylum applications.

Of the children whose claims were decided in the last 12 months, 79% were granted asylum.

A further 31 unaccompanied children were granted short term leave to remain which expires after 2.5 years, leaving them uncertain and anxious about their futures.

The top country of origin for applications from unaccompanied children in 2020 was Sudan

The moment someone receives a positive decision on their asylum claim should be one of celebration and relief, an end to instability, and the start of a bright future where they are able to establish new lives in the UK. Instead, many newly-recognised refugees experience homelessness and/or destitution, right at this point.

The Home Office provides accommodation on a no-choice basis and subsistence support of around £5 per day for people seeking asylum if they would otherwise be destitute. But once they are awarded status, this support stops after just 28-days. Faced with a cliff edge and no support to find new housing, open a bank account, and secure income, among other activities needed before being evicted, many refugees are at significant risk of homelessness and/or destitution.

Attention has been drawn to this vital form of refugee protection recently with the Government’s announcement to create a resettlement scheme for 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, a positive first step in the right direction to support the many people affected by this tragic conflict.

However, resettlement only supports a fraction of those in need.

Just 1% of the world’s refugees will ever be resettled anywhere, which means many refugees face a long, uncertain wait to hear if they will ever be able to rebuild their lives in safety.

There were 661 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending June 2021. This is 81% fewer than in the previous year, due to resettlement activity being paused between March and November 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most common nationalities of those resettled were Syria (82%), Iraq (5%) and Sudan (5%). Since the first arrivals in March 2021, 310 refugees have been resettled in the UK via the UKRS.

The UK Government also resettles refugees through two other programmes. In the year to June 2021, no refugees from conflict zones across the world were resettled in Britain via the Gateway Protection Programme. 12 refugees were resettled via the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme in the first quarter of 2021, but none in the subsequent quarter

War and persecution often divide refugees from their families but there are few straightforward, legal ways for refugees to safely join loved ones in Britain.

One of the few safe and regular routes for refugees to join their loved ones in the UK is via refugee family reunion visas. In the year ending June 2021, 6,449  family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, an 8% decrease compared to the previous year.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the number of visas granted in April-June 2020 fell to just 131, and is now started to recover with 1,607 visas issued in April-June 2021.

The Family Reunion rules are incredibly restrictive.  Only spouses and dependent children are eligible to apply for family reunion visas. People who have been granted protection in the UK may be alone, distraught and worried about the safety of their family who may still be in danger. Even unaccompanied children are not allowed to apply for their parents to join them in the UK. That is why we are campaigning to bring #FamiliesTogether.

Another way in which refugees could be allowed to travel to the UK safely is through the Mandate scheme. This enables refugees in other countries to join their families in Britain. Sadly, this route is rarely used by the Government with no refugees arriving via the scheme in the twelve months ending June 2021.


the number of people awaiting an initial decision for more than 6-months

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