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Covid-19: important updates and changes to the asylum system.

Scotland is now in phase 3 of the route map out of lockdown. Find out more about coronavirus in Scotland.

LATEST: After an above-average increase in Covid-19 cases, the Scottish Government has introduced stricter restrictions on meetings in indoor household settings across Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire. As well as these areas, the rest of Scotland must adopt new rules on indoor and outdoor gatherings not exceeding six people from two households. 

PROTECT SCOTLAND APP: Smartphone users can download NHS Scotland’s new contact tracing app to help suppress the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Protect Scotland app is now available to download for free via Apple and Google stores.

Read our new report on how COVID-19 has impacted people seeking safety in Scotland.

During the Covid-19 crisis we are running our services via phone and video link. Please call our freephone number 0808 196 7274 to make an appointment.

We have been calling on the government to change their policies in order to protect people seeking safety during the Covid-19 pandemic (and beyond). The government has made some temporary changes to asylum and resettlement during lockdown, some of which are detailed below. Some of these changes are beginning to revert back as we move out of lockdown.

Is there something missing from our resources? Let us know!

 

 

Changes to the asylum system

Keep track of changes to the asylum process in the UK. Last updated 12/10/2020.

  • Additional locations for claiming asylum

    Additional temporary locations have been identified across the UK for people to lodge their asylum claim. The AIU in Croydon will continue to function as normal but will additionally be supported by limited operations in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Leeds, Solihull and Cardiff. These will not operate a 5-day service.

    Appointments in Glasgow

    Phone the AIU appointment line on 0300 123 4193. Once a call is logged, a member of staff within the Glasgow team will return the call to book an appointment. The appointment line operates Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm; and Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.

    The Home Office has advised that individuals must bring their appointment letter with them. Travel to appointments is deemed essential.

    Walk-in arrangements

    Applicants do not need to make an appointment if they have nowhere to live, however it is strongly advised. It is requested if customers do need to ‘walk-in’, that they contact Asylum Intake Unit appointment line who will be able to advise whether they should attend the Asylum Intake Unit in Croydon or which temporary location they should attend.

    Do not attend an appointment with Covid-19 symptoms

    Owing to COVID-19 measures if a customer feels unwell, or a member of their household has recently felt unwell, please advise them to check Public Health England advice on when they should stay at home. Please advise them to access the Government website for more information before attending an appointment. If a customer has any of the symptoms mentioned in that guidance, they should not attend their appointment, but please contact us on 0300 123 4193 to make alternative arrangements. Being unable to attend an appointment due to ill health will not affect their immigration status if they inform us.

    Initial interviews

    Some initial interviews have been cancelled, but others are still going ahead.

    What is an initial interview?

  • Reporting at the Home Office keyboard_arrow_right
    Re-opening of reporting centres

    From UKGov website:

    Some reporting centres will open from 20 July for limited hours, outside of peak travel times. You’ll get a text message, email or letter when you have a new reporting date.

    Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), it may take longer than usual to get a new reporting date.

    Attending reporting centres

    Do not attend your appointment if you or someone you live with has any coronavirus symptoms or you are self-isolating – contact your local reporting centre.

    Contacting your reporting centre

    Festival Court 2
    200 Brand Street
    Glasgow
    G51 1DH

    Make sure any email includes your:

    • name
    • date of birth
    • Home Office reference
    • mobile phone number

    If you were sent a text message by mistake

    Email the Home Office and tell them your reference number (if you have one), name and phone number: romsmswrongnumber@homeoffice.gov.uk

  • The Home Office paused face to face substantive asylum interviews on the 18th March.

    Since July, some substantive asylum interviews are being done by video call. The Home Office were already using video link for some asylum interviews prior to the Coronavirus crisis.

    If you are told you have an interview, you will be told to attend a Home Office or partner organisation location in person. However, the interviewer will be in a different room, and you will do the interview over video call.

    The Home Office have published new guidance on substantive interviews being resumed.

    What is a substantive interview?

  • Changes to asylum support keyboard_arrow_right
    Asylum support payments

    People on section 95 support whose asylum claim and any appeal are refused will be transferred to section 4 support and will continue receiving financial support. They should receive a letter notifying them of this.

    People who have received a positive decision on their asylum claim will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation but are expected to apply for mainstream welfare benefits, however, their asylum support payments will continue until they have received their first benefit payment.

    On June 8th, the Immigration Minister Chris Philp announced that from June 15th, Asylum Support rates would increase from £37.75 to £39.60 per week. Section 4 rates would also be uplifted to £39.60. The uplift is a provisional measure pending a full review.

    Relaxed evidence requirements for asylum support applications

    The Home Office have stated that they will not expect Migrant Help to have had sight of original supporting documents provided with asylum support applications. Migrant Help will be able to complete information to indicate they have seen copy documents.

    As new birth certificates are not currently being issued, the Home Office will not expect applicants for maternity payments to produce them. A full birth certificate may be required at a later date once normal arrangements have resumed.

  • Evictions from asylum accommodation paused

    On 27 March, the Home Office announced that people would not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation (as they normally would if they had received a positive decision – for example, refugee status; or if their claim had been refused by the Home Office and appeal) until at least the end of June.

    Evictions of people with leave to remain restarting in England.

    The Home Office continued to pause evictions from asylum accommodation from 1 July, but have started issuing “notice to quit” letters (also called “move on” letters) from 11 August. This includes for people who have been granted Refugee Status or similar leave to remain. The process is starting first of all in England, and a similar process will begin in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a later date (not yet specified).

    Evictions of people who have been refused asylum to restart.

    On 15th September the Home Office announced that they will restart evictions from asylum accommodation and end support for people who have had their asylum claim refused.

    Glasgow City Council say they will refuse to co-operate with this policy.

  • There is now no need to travel to Liverpool to submit a fresh claim. This requirement has been paused.

    You can now submit further evidence by post or email.

    Postal address:

    Further Submissions Unit

    The Capital Building

    Old Hall Street

    Liverpool

    L3 9PP

    E-mail address:

    CSUCE@homeoffice.gov.uk

     

    What is a fresh claim?

  • From Right to Remain

    Face-to-face appeal hearings were suspended during the lockdown but most courts and tribunals buildings are now open in line with public health advice. Some hearings may still be held remotely (by video link).

    If you had a hearing that was cancelled during the lockdown, the Tribunal should be in touch with you about what is happening (or you can contact them if you haven’t heard anything). You should only attend a Tribunal if you have had confirmation from them that you are having a face-to-face hearing. You should not go in person if you (or anyone accompanying you) has tested positive for Coronavirus or if you are showing symptoms. Contact the Tribunal in those circumstances to see if you are able to go ahead without attending in person.

    You can find the current status and contact details of courts and tribunals using the court and tribunal finder service (type in, for example, the town/city where your hearing was due or is due to take place) here.

  • Voluntary returns resumed keyboard_arrow_right
    The Home Office have confirmed that they will be resuming Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR) from 13th July 2020.

    Individuals and families who are in the UK without leave and who wish to return home, are now able to contact the Voluntary Returns Service to discuss the support options available to them using the details below:

    Telephone: 0300 0040 202 Opening hours 09:00-17:00

    Online form: https://www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily

  • Dispersal to Glasgow paused keyboard_arrow_right
    Dispersal to Glasgow has been paused in the aftermath of the Park Inn incident in June.

    October 2020: dispersal to Glasgow continues to be paused.

  • On the 19th June the UNHCR and IOM issued a joint statement confirming that resettlement travel has been resumed.

    As of October 2020, the Home Office have not confirmed when flights to the UK will resume.

    The Home Office have produced a FAQ document in response to questions put forward by stakeholders (please note: this FAQ pre-dates the above UNHCR announcement).

  • Home Office travel documents keyboard_arrow_right
    The Home Office have limited capacity to process travel document applications due to Covid-19.

    They advise that anyone who is in particularly difficult situation and needs their application to be considered as a matter of priority, should send a request, along with scanned recent, acceptable evidence of the circumstances and confirmation that the client is able to travel i.e. confirmation from the airline or ferry company to traveldocumentenquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk

  • Having initially put Statelessness applications on hold due to capacity issues, the majority of the Statelessness Determination Team are now back up and running as of 23rd April and are now able to make decisions on Stateless Leave cases.

     

Health and support

NHS guidance, community support groups and helplines to help you in these uncertain times.

  • Covid mutual aid keyboard_arrow_right
    Mutual aid groups

    A large number of Covid mutual aid groups have appeared around the country – ordinary people joining up to support the most vulnerable in their communities.

    Find your local Covid mutual aid group.

    See Glasgow Mutual Aid’s helpful list of resources.

    New Scots Connect

    New Scots Connect is a Scotland-wide network for community groups supporting New Scots. Find out how to join and connect.

  • Resources for families keyboard_arrow_right
    Resources for homework help

    BBC Bitesize : easy to navigate and to choose age appropriate resources. Beginning Monday 20 April, BBC Bitesize will publish daily online lessons for all ages.

    Sumdog : games-based maths, grammar and spelling practise. Free access for all during Covid-19 outbreak.

    And if you are struggling to explain the virus and lockdown, Coronavirus: A Book For Children has been published to help children understand what is happening.

    Thanks to Monzo, you can view some of this information in Polish, Romanian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Amharic and Tigrinya.

    Scottish Autism – support for autistic people, parents & carers

    Aimed  at parents, carers and autistic people who are seeking support and finding this period challenging.

    Mind Yer Time – for children & young people

    Aimed at helping children and young people learn about the healthy use of screens and social media.

    Young Scot – young people & mental wellbeing

    A resource for young people, providing online support on mental wellbeing.

    The Spark – relationship counselling (also for young people)

    Relationship counselling for young people. People may feel their closest relationships under strain between spending more time with your partners, children and immediate family – or because you are seeing less of other family members due to the lockdown rules.
    There is also a helpline and people can receive up to 6 sessions for free.
    Parentline Scotland

    Call 08000 28 22 33 free, browse their website for advice and support, or start a webchat.

    • Mon-Fri, 9am to 9pm
    • Sat-Sun, 9am to noon

    If you have very limited or no access to the internet at home, these resources might be almost impossible to access.

    If you need help getting access to the internet and you’re a refugee or going through the asylum process, call our helpline or visit our website to speak to an advisor to find out how we can support you.

  • Health - translated guidance keyboard_arrow_right

    Covid-19 treatment is free for all and that anyone with symptoms, regardless of their immigration status, should follow the guidance in exactly the same way as those that are ordinarily resident in Scotland.

    Anyone that requires immediate or urgent healthcare in Scotland, not only for Covid-19, will receive it regardless of their immigration status or their ability to pay at the time if charges apply.

    Healthcare provision in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Government and is in no way linked to immigration control, which is a matter for the Home Office.  NHS Boards in Scotland never pass on patients’ details to the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement.

     

    NHS guidance

    NHS Inform has created various materials to support you through Covid-19. More languages and resources are being worked on.

    Doctors of the World guidance

    Doctors of the World have now translated essential Covid-19 guidance based on NHS and Government health advice and information in 60 languages available in written format. Please find them here: https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

    Coping strategies for anxious times

    Translated guidance on breathing techniques from the Traumatic Stress Service in Bristol, available in 15 languages.

  • Helplines - domestic violence keyboard_arrow_right
    Domestic Violence

    Rape Crisis

    Rape Crisis helpline is open 6pm – midnight for anyone affected by sexual violence.

    Telephone: 08088 01 03 02 ; 07537 410027

    Email: support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

    Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline

    Open 24/7 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    If you want support for yourself, or if you’re worried about someone:

    Telephone: 0800 027 1234

    Email: helpline@sdafmh.org.uk

    Web chat: http://sdafmh.org.uk

    ASSIST Glasgow

    Telephone support service to women, men, children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

    Telephone: 0141 276 7710

    Email: assist@glasgow.gov.uk

    Glasgow Women’s Aid

    Website: http://www.glasgowwomensaid.org.uk/get-support-now.html

    Phone: 0141 553 2022

    1. Support if you want to talk to someone confidentially
    2. Signposting to other support organisations
    3. Information about your rights (legal, housing, money etc)
    4. Provision of interpreting services
    5. Safe refuge accommodation (Refuge Link)

  • Helplines - mental health keyboard_arrow_right
    Samaritans

    Call Samaritans for free on 116 123.

    Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    Breathing Space

    Open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday).

    6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday).

    Phone and speak to a Breathing Space advisor for free on 0800 83 85 87.

    SAMH

    The SAMH Information Service provides quality assured mental health information and signposting relevant to the people of Scotland

    0344 8000 550 or email info@samh.org.uk

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Scotland

    Services and opportunities for young people, families and professionals. Aims to increase awareness and confidence as well as reducing isolation and intolerance.

    9-5 Mon-Fri

    0141 552 7425

  • Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA)

    Advice and guidance – including health and wellbeing and legal and financial support.

    07958 299 496

    0141 556 7103

    info@gdaonline.co.uk

    Glasgow City Council Disability Services

    0141 287 0555

    Visibility Scotland

    Supporting people living anywhere in Scotland with visual impairment.

    0141 332 4632

    info@visibilityscotland.org.uk

    Scottish British Sign Language (BSL)

    Video relay service.

    0333 344 7712

    info@contactscotland-bsl.org

    NHS guidance

    NHS Inform guidance for people with underlying health conditions requiring to physically distance

     

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