75,340asylum applications were made in the last 12 months (relating to 93,296 people)
There were 75,340 asylum applications (relating to 93,296 people) in the UK in the year ending September 2023, a 1% increase from the previous 12 months. The increase in applications is likely to be due to the continued global increase in the number of people displaced due to war and conflict.
In the year ending September 2023, the top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Afghanistan, Iran, Albania, India and Iraq.
In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 20th highest in Europe.
There were 24,830 people detected arriving by small boats between January and September 2023. This was decrease on the number in the same nine months in 2022 (33,048).
503 small boats were detected arriving in the UK between January and September 2023, compared with 658 between January and September 2022.
There has been an average of 49 people per small boat in the nine months between January and September 2023, compared with 50 people per small boat in the same period to September 2022.
In the first ten months of 2023, six in 10 (60%) of small boat arrivals were from just four nationalities: Afghan (20%), Iranian (11%), Turkish (11%), Eritrean (10%) and Iraqi (9%).
90% of those who crossed the channel claimed asylum in the UK, but only 340 (less than 1%) people had received a decision by the end of June 2023. Of those who did receive a decision, 210 (62%) were grants of refugee status or other leave.
At the start of 2021, the Home Office introduced a new process for determining whether an asylum claim should be “inadmissibile” to the UK’s asylum system. If someone’s application is deemed to be inadmissible this means the Home Office will not consider the claim. Instead, under the current process, the applicant will removed either to a country they passed through on their way to the UK or another “safe third country”.
As part of the process, the Home Office issues ‘notices of intent’ telling the applicant it is making enquiries of other countries through which the person seeking asylum has travelled.
From 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2023, 69,645 have had their claim deemed potentially inadmissible, and 31,910 people were issued with notices of intent.
Not everybody issued with a notice of intent will have been served with a decision yet, but of the decisions that were made, only 83 were subsequently served with inadmissibility decisions. Of these, 23 people were returned to a third country. The 23 returns were made to Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
In 2023, there have been no inadmissibility decisions and only one removal.
42,976 people who had been issued whose claim has been considered potentially inadmissible were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum process for substantive consideration of their asylum claim.
Under the Illegal Migration Act 2023, if someone has arrived in the UK irregularly their asylum claim will be automatically deemed to be inadmissible without needing another country having agreed for that person to be transferred there.
Given the low numbers of removals under the current inadmissibility process, this is likely to leave hundreds of thousands of people stuck in the UK in permanent limbo with their claims not being processed.
75% of initial decisions made in the year to September 2023 have been grants of protection, meaning they have been awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection. A total of 38,761 people were granted protection in the year ending September 2023 as a result of an asylum claim, a 142% increase from the previous year when 16,039 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, 40,571 people were granted status in the UK through the asylum system or resettlement
The Home Office have no provided updated data on appeals against refusals of asylum claims since March 2023.
At that stage, 51% of appeals were successful. The appeal success rate has been steadily increasing over the last decade (up from 29% in 2010).
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 2023, 165,411 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum, almost double the number of applications awaiting an initial decision at the end of 2021 (83,733 people). Of the 165,411 people awaiting a decision, 75% (124,461 people) have been waiting for more than six months.
In December 2022, the Prime Minister committed to clearing the “legacy backlog”—meaning all asylum applications made before 28 June 2022—by the end of 2023. At the end of October 2023, there were 33,253 legacy cases waiting for a decision, meaning that the Home Office will need to make more than 16,500 decisions in both November and December to meet the Prime Minister’s commitment.
While there has been an increase in the number of decisions being taken, it is important to note that 30% of decisions taken in the first nine months of 2023 weren’t cases where the UK Government either granted or refused a claim. Instead those asylum claims were withdrawn. This is a significant increase on the number of claims withdrawn in 2022, when 22% of claims were withdrawn.
75%of initial decisions made in the year to September 2023 have been grants of protection
At the end of September 2023, 123,758 people seeking asylum were being supported by the government.
Of these, 1,122 individuals were in receipt of support under Section 98. A further 118,800 were in receipt of Section 95 support and 3,836 people were in receipt of Section 4 support.
People seeking asylum are banned from working and are provided with under £7 per day from the Government to cover the costs of their basic necessities. Could you live on under £7 per day?
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 1,841 people in detention in immigration removal centres at the end of September 2023 and 8,453 people seeking asylum entered detention during this period. However, the overall number of people who were detained is 11% fewer than the previous year. This decrease is due in part to small boat arrivals no longer being processed initially in the detention estate.
Despite a government promise in 2010 to end the practice of detaining children, there were 57 occurrences of children entering immigration detention in the year ending September 2023. Under the Illegal Migration Act 2023, the number of children being detained could increase significantly.
It is not just adults and families who come to the UK in search of safety; unaccompanied children, some as young as under 14 years old, also seek Britain’s protection.
In the last 12 months, there were 4,656 applications from unaccompanied children, 16% less than the previous year, accounting for 6% of total asylum applications.
Of the children whose claims were decided in the last 12 months, 78% were granted asylum.
A further 112 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 Afghanistan.
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 for people seeking asylum if they would otherwise be destitute. But once they are awarded status, this support stops almost immediately.
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.
In August 2023, the Home Office made changes that has increased the risks of homelessness and destitution. Prior to August, people needed to leave their Home Office accommodation and lost access to financial support 28-days after they received their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The changes now mean this 28-days starts when someone is notified of their decision on their asylum application, which can be around seven to ten days before their receive their BRP.
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.
Currently, the numbers that the UK resettles each year are still much lower than in the years before the pandemic:
- There were 766 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending September 2023. This is 45% fewer than the previous year.
- 525 people (69% of all those resettled) were resettled through the UK Resettlement scheme (UKRS), with most of the remainder resettled through Community Sponsorship schemes, and a handful through the Mandate Protection Programme.
- 61 people were resettled under Pathway 2 of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.
- 167 people were resettled under the Community Sponsorship scheme.
- 13 people were resettled under the Mandate Protection Programme
- The most common nationalities of those resettled were Syrian (64%), Iraqi (10%), and Sudanese (9%).
- You can find more statistics in the UNHCR Global Trends report.
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 September 2023, 6,114 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, an 40% increase compared to the previous year.
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 families who may still be in danger. Even unaccompanied children are not allowed to apply for their parents to join them in the UK.
Many people who have sought protection in the UK are not even able to access any refugee family reunion route, including thousands who were evacuated from Afghanistan after the takeover by the Taliban in 2021 and are desperately worried about the safety of their loved ones.