asylum applications were made in the last 12 months (relating to 84,425 people)

There were 67,337 asylum applications (relating to 84,425 people) in the UK in the year ending December 2023, a 17% decrease from the previous 12 months.

In the year ending December 2023, the top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 20th highest in Europe.


There were 29,437 people detected arriving by small boats in 2023. This was decrease on the number who arrived in 2022 (45,774).

602 small boats were detected arriving in the UK in 2023, compared with 1,110 between January and September 2022.

There was an average of 49 people per small boat in 2023, compared with 41 people per small boat in 2022.

In 2023, six in 10 (59%) of small boat arrivals were from just five nationalities: Afghan (19%), Iranian (12%), Turkish (10%), Eritrean (9%) and Iraqi (9%).

Since 2021, 90% of those who crossed the channel claimed asylum in the UK, but only 25% of people had received a decision. Of those who did receive a decision, 8,969 (63%) were grants of protection.

At the start of 2021, the Home Office introduced a new process for determining whether an asylum claim should be “inadmissible” 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 be 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 31 December 2023, 77,304 cases have been identified as potentially inadmissible and 34,113 people have been issued with notices of intent. Not everybody issued with a notice of intent will have been served with a decision yet, but only 84 people were subsequently served with inadmissibility decisions.

Of these, 25 people (0.07% of those issued with a notice of intent) have been returned to a third country. The 25 returns were made to Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

47,993 people whose claims was initially identified as being potentially inadmissible have subsequently had their case 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.


67% of initial decisions made in the year to December 2023 have been grants of protection, meaning they have been awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection.

A total of 49,862 people were granted protection in the year ending December 2023 as a result of an asylum claim, a 247% increase from the previous year when 14,370 people were granted.

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, 54,258 people were granted status in the UK through the asylum system or resettlement programmes.


The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year to March 2023 was 51% (almost unchanged from the previous year), and no update has been provided since then.

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.

In December 2022, the Prime Minister committed to clearing the “legacy backlog”—all asylum applications made before 28 June 2022—by the end of 2023. At the end of December 2023, there were 3,902 legacy cases waiting for a decision, despite the Home Office claiming they had cleared the legacy backlog at the end of 2023.

Despite the work to reduce the backlog, the number of people awaiting for initial decision continued to be far too high. At the end of December 2023, 128,786 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum, over double the number of applications awaiting an initial decision at the end of 2019 (51,228 people).

Of the 128,786 people awaiting a decision, 65% (83,254 people) had been waiting for more than six months.

While there has been an increase in the number of decisions being taken, it is important to note that 24,027 of what are classified as decisions taken in 2023 weren’t cases where the UK government either granted or refused a claim. Instead, those asylum claims were withdrawn, meaning they weren’t fully considered. This is a quarter of all decisions made in 2023 (24%).



of initial decisions made in the year to December 2023 have been grants of protection

At the end of December 2023, 111,132 people seeking asylum were being supported by the UK Government.*

Almost half, 47,778 individuals, were placed in contingency accommodation, including 45,768 people who were living in hotels.

At that time, 105,978 people were in receipt of Section 95 support and 3,910 people were in receipt of Section 4 support.

People seeking asylum are banned from working and are provided with a £7 per day from the Government to cover the costs of their basic necessities. Could you live on just £7 per day?

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


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 15,864 people detained in immigration removal centres during 2023: among them were 6,889 people seeking asylum.

Despite a government promise in 2010 to end the practice of detaining children, there were 18 occurrences of children entering immigration detention in 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 protection in the UK.

In the last 12 months, there were 3,412 applications from unaccompanied children—41% fewer than the previous year—accounting for 5% of total asylum applications.

Of the children whose claims were decided in 2023, 75% were granted asylum.

A further five unaccompanied children were granted short-term leave to remain which expires after two-and-a-half 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 of £6.43 per day 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 meant the 28 day countdown 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.

Although the changes have now supposedly been reversed, statistics from the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities show that street homelessness among those leaving asylum accommodation has risen sharply, from 44 people in July 2023 to 469 in December 2023.


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 previous years. There were 736 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending December 2023. This is more than a third (38%) fewer than the previous year.

485 people (66% 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.

104 people were resettled under Pathway 2 of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

132 people were resettled under the Community Sponsorship scheme.

15 people were resettled under the Mandate Protection Programme.

The most common nationalities of those resettled were Syrian (41%), Afghan (15%), and Somali (10%).


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 December 2023, 9,764 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, an 137% 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.

This is why we are campaigning to bring #FamiliesTogether.



people awaiting an initial decision

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