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

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

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!

 

 

Changes to the asylum system

Keep track of changes to the asylum process in the UK. Last updated 21/07/2020.

  • 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.

    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?

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

    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 25th March, no face-to-face appeal hearings will be listed at the First-tier Tribunal (the court where most asylum and immigration appeals are be heard).

    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.

  • 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

  • No evictions for three months keyboard_arrow_right
    Evictions from asylum accommodation paused

    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 paused keyboard_arrow_right
    The Home Office has instructed asylum accommodation providers to procure additional properties regardless of whether a Local Authority has agreed in advance to become a dispersal area.

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

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

    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).

  • 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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