During the Covid-19 crisis we are running our services via phone and video link. Please call 0141 223 7979 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.
If you are a new Scot, or an organisation supporting new Scots, how has the coronavirus pandemic impacted you? Let us know by responding to our surveys.
Is there something missing from our resources? Let us know!
Keep track of changes to the asylum process in the UK. Last updated 21/07/2020.
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.
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.
Some initial interviews have been cancelled, but others are still going ahead.
What is an initial interview?
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
Make sure any email includes your:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 15th June the Home Office confirmed that they plan to resume substantive interviews from the end of June 2020 using existing Video Conferencing facilities in Home Office (UKVI) buildings and VFS (the company that runs some of the Video Conferencing facilities); some of the interviewing officers will be working from home but they can make use of Home Office technology. The resumption of substantive interviews will be rolled out in three phases and eventually the Home Office intends to return to pre Covid-19 practice.
Phase 1 – Those asked to attend an asylum interview will be limited to those within close proximity to a UKVI or VFS location to help reduce need for public transport where possible. Once applicants attend a UKVI or VFS centre, UKVI or VFS staff will accompany them straight to an interview room/booth as soon as possible to avoid waiting in public areas. Interviews will then be completed remotely over video with the caseworker and interpreter in a separate location to help with social distancing. Consideration will be given under the existing process on the suitability of those interviewed using video conferencing.
Phase 2 – Face to face interviews will resume; plans are already being made to amend the physical space to put in place screens and the room layout will be changed so that social distancing (under the current 2 metre rule) can be maintained. Not all of the rooms in use pre Covid-19 will be suitable if there is not room for social distancing. It will be optional for caseworkers, and claimants, if they wish to wear personal safety equipment in the form of a mask to cover their face during interviews or wear gloves. There will be additional breaks factored in, based on the physical interviewing environment.
Phase 3 – Resumption of interviews for unaccompanied children and for families who need to use UKVI provided childcare.
In all cases there may need to be limits set on the number of people allowed to attend a substantive interviews. The Home Office has assured us that it will work with legal representatives.
The usual notice period will be given when asking an applicant to attend an interview i.e. five days.
Plans are likely to vary across UKVI regions because of different building layouts and therefore what needs to be put in place to enable substantive interviews to resume.
What is a substantive interview?
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.
The only likely discontinuations of asylum support for the next 3 months are where the person is found to be no longer destitute or where there has been a serious breach of the relevant regulations. The Home Office expect these cases to be few in number.
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.
You can now submit further evidence by post or email.
Further Submissions Unit
The Capital Building
Old Hall Street
What is a fresh claim?
Judges will conduct Case Management Review (CMR) Hearings by telephone to decide if the case can be decided on the papers (without a hearing). If a full hearing needs to go ahead, this will be done by video.
Further information on the process can be found on the ILPA website here..
The Upper Tribunal have cancelled almost all listed hearings including Judicial Reviews.
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
On 27th March 2020, the Home Office Minister Chris Philp sent a Letter to the British Red Cross announcing that for the next three months people will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation.
This applies to both people whose asylum cases are refused and those who are granted status. In the letter, the Minister sets out that this will reviewed towards the end of June.
The Red Cross also received clarification that the halt on evictions applies to people on section 95 support and section 4 support. If people have received “Notice to Quit” letters, they should contact Migrant Help to get support reinstated (if they have not already been contacted about reinstatement of support).
Following the review in June, the Home Office have confirmed their intention to resume evictions for people granted status, however, all evictions remain paused from 1st July, pending a decision from the Immigration Minister as to when evictions will resume.
Dispersal to Glasgow has been paused in the aftermath of the Park Inn incident in June.
As yet, 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).
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 email@example.com
NHS guidance, community support groups and helplines to help you in these uncertain times.
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.
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
The Spark – relationship counselling (also for young people)
Call 08000 28 22 33 free, browse their website for advice and support, or start a webchat.
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.
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.
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.
Rape Crisis helpline is open 6pm – midnight for anyone affected by sexual violence.
Telephone: 08088 01 03 02 ; 07537 410027
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
Web chat: http://sdafmh.org.uk
Telephone support service to women, men, children and young people affected by domestic abuse.
Telephone: 0141 276 7710
Glasgow Women’s Aid
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)
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.
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.
The SAMH Information Service provides quality assured mental health information and signposting relevant to the people of Scotland
0344 8000 550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
0141 552 7425
Advice and guidance – including health and wellbeing and legal and financial support.
07958 299 496
0141 556 7103
Glasgow City Council Disability Services
0141 287 0555
Supporting people living anywhere in Scotland with visual impairment.
0141 332 4632
Scottish British Sign Language (BSL)
Video relay service.
0333 344 7712