37,562Asylum applications made in the last 12 months
There were 37,562 asylum applications (main applicants only) in the UK in the year ending September 2021, an 18% increase on the previous year. The increase in applications is likely to be partly due to the easing of global travel restrictions that were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the year ending September 2021, the top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria.
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 nine months of 2021, 6,598 people were issued with notices of intent to inform them that their case was being reviewed in order to determine whether their removal on inadmissibility grounds was possible.
Of these, 48 were subsequently served with inadmissibility decisions, meaning the UK would not admit the asylum claim for consideration in the UK system, because another country was considered to be responsible for the claim, owing to the claimant’s previous presence in or connection to a safe country. Of these, 10 people were returned to a third country.
2,126 people who had been issued with a notice of intent were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum process for substantive consideration of their asylum claim.
In summary, of the 6,598 notices of intent issued in the first nine months of 2021, 32% have received a decision, of which 97% were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum system.
63% of initial decisions made in the year to September 2021 have been grants of protection, meaning they have been awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection. A total of 11,689 people were granted protection in year ending September 2021 as a result of an asylum claim, a 16% rise from the previous year where 10,058 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, 13,210 people were granted status in the UK through the asylum system or resettlement programmes.
The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year to September 2021 was 48% (almost unchanged from 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 September 2021, 83,733 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum. Of these, 56,520 (68%) have been waiting for more than 6 months, up from 46,108 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 September 2021, 68,747* people seeking asylum were being supported by the Government.
Of these, 16,794 individuals were in receipt of support under Section 98, up from 10,315 the previous year. A further 45,857 were in receipt of Section 95 support and 6,096 people were in receipt of Section 4 support
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.
63%of applications granted asylum or protection at initial decision stage in the year ending September 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 1,410 people in detention in immigration removal centres at the end of September 2021; among them were 881 people seeking asylum. This equates to a 56% increase from the previous year
In the same period, there were 17,499 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 112 occurrences of children entering immigration detention in the year ending September 2021. One child was held in detention at the end of September 2021
In the last 12 months, there were 3,103 applications from unaccompanied children, 3% more than the previous year; accounting for 8% of total asylum applications.
Of the children whose claims were decided in the last 12 months, 84% were granted asylum.
A further 28 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 the last 12 months was Iran.
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 1,171 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending September 2021. This is 46% 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.
770 people (66% of all those resettled) were resettled through the UK Resettlement scheme (UKRS), and the remainder resettled via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (which both closed at the end of February 2021), or through Community Sponsorship schemes
The most common nationalities of those resettled were Syrian (77%), Iraqi (8%) and Sudanese (3%)
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 Sept 2021, 6,524 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, an 8% increase compared to the previous year.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the number of visas granted in 2020 fell dramatically, though these have now started to recover.
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.