As a result of the current public health crisis, daily changes are being made to the asylum process in the UK. These are temporary adjustments to cut down on people travelling or attending meetings during this time.
Asylum screening interview
The Home Office is working on a new system for asylum claims to be registered whilst avoiding contact and travel. We are continuing to push for people to not have to travel to Croydon to submit their asylum application. Some screening interviews have been cancelled.
The Home Office have paused substantive asylum interviews, and are exploring other ways to manage these interviews and decisions. We urge them to use technology wisely here.
Further submissions (fresh claims)
Ordinarily, people have to travel to Liverpool to lodge a fresh asylum claim. This requirement has been paused.
You can now submit further evidence by post or email.
Further Submissions Unit
The Capital Building
Old Hall Street
Appeals and Judicial Reviews
From Right to Remain – “In the First-tier Tribunal, where most asylum and immigration appeals are be heard, judges have been directed to decide on the papers – without a hearing – where possible (if the person appealing and the Home Office agree to this). If this isn’t possible, they are to use video link. From 25 March, no face-to-face appeal hearings will be listed.
The Upper Tribunal have cancelled almost all listed hearings including Judicial Reviews (apart from a few exceptions where alternative arrangements have already been made).”
Reporting to the Home Office
Update – “The Home Office has decided that reporting as a condition of immigration bail should be temporarily deferred while it reviews how frequently people should report. You will receive an SMS text message soon with details of your next reporting date.”
The voluntary returns service is now on hold.
“We are currently receiving a high level of interest in the services we offer, and we continue to work with people to try and fulfil their requests to leave the UK.
“However we are currently experiencing difficulties that mean that we cannot currently support assisted returns for people who require a level of assistance upon return from the United Kingdom. We are experiencing infrastructure and other issues that make it difficult to impossible to offer that level of support at this time.
“We have therefore made a very difficult decision to cease offering assisted returns at this time.
“We will continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as we possibly can. Where we can arrange flights, get travel documents etc we will continue to do this, and we are very happy to talk to people to see what help we can offer on an individual basis.”
The Home Office have released 350 people from detention. The number of people held in immigration detention as of 24 March was 736 people (down from 1,225 on 1 January).
The Home Office has committed to urgently review the cases of every person held in immigration detention and has stopped the new detentions of people who would in normal circumstances be facing removal to one of the 49 countries to which removals are not currently taking place, including Jamaica, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Albania.
Home Office guidance issued after Detention Action began legal action against them says they will be initiating:
- Enhanced screening, identification and monitoring of those at risk or showing symptoms of Covid-19, particularly for this with underlying health conditions.
- Ensuring that persons at increased risk from Covid-19, and persons who are symptomatic, are provided with facilities to self-isolate in single-occupancy rooms and are provided with individualised care plans
- A review of cleaning practices within detention centres to ensure compliance with Public Health England guidance
- Provision of anti-bacterial cleaning materials to detainees, upon request
- The introduction of social spacing measures in communal areas
- The production of specific guidance to explain in clear terms how to reduce the risk of an outbreak of Covid-19
Earlier this week, there were reports that Brook House detention centre was in lockdown, with people unable to leave their rooms.
Bail hearings are still taking place, but not in person (not face-to-face).
Asylum accommodation and support
Evictions and terminations of asylum support have been paused for three months. We are now seeking clarification on the support available for people who are already destitute.
The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) have written a new factsheet about asylum support and Covid-19. They suggest that people who are “appeal rights exhausted” and who do not currently have a fresh claim being considered by the Home Office may be entitled to Section 4 support on the basis that they cannot currently leave the UK (because of Covid-19 travel restrictions and the grounding of flights). You can find the factsheet here.
UNHCR is temporarily suspending its resettlement scheme. This is a temporary measure that will be in place only for as long as it remains essential. This is huge, and the factors which drive people to flee persecution still exist, Covid or not. We will be watching this development closely and anxiously.
From the Home Office: “In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (23 March) and the ongoing global situation, resettlement arrivals will be further postponed until 20th April. We will be in touch with the affected Local Authorities/community sponsors on an individual basis to confirm this.
“We continue to keep the situation under review and will resume arrivals as soon as we are able to.”
We will update this page with additional changes as they occur. Please keep checking back and follow Right to Remain for regular updates.In the newsPolicy