Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between an asylum-seeker and a refugee?
If your life is in danger in your home country, it is your legal right to apply for asylum
elsewhere. While the Home Office assesses your application, you are an asylum-seeker. If
the application is successful, you are granted refugee status.
Aren’t asylum-seekers illegal immigrants?
Under international law, there is no such thing as an illegal journey if you are seeking asylum. To claim asylum here, you have first to be in the UK – and the UK does all it can to keep out people who don’t have visas. That is why people resort to desperate measures such as stowing away on lorries.
What happens when someone claims asylum?
An asylum-seeker can be sent anywhere in the country that the Home Office chooses.
Initially, they will probably be housed in a hostel. In most cases, they are then moved on and
given housing and an allowance of £39.63 per person per week, to cover food, clothes, school uniforms and books, internet access, phone bills, TV licence, bus fares etc. A single person may have to share a bedroom with a stranger; a small family may have to share a house (one kitchen, one bathroom) with another family without even having a language in common.
asylum to be granted by the Home Office. One of these is a young man who was actually
born in a refugee camp and still the Home Office has not accepted him as a refugee! As
asylum-seekers, they are not normally allowed to do paid work – an outworking of the “hostile environment” which is costing the Treasury something like £100 million pa.
What about if they are granted refugee status?
An asylum application is very thoroughly investigated before anyone is granted refugee status. That brings with it five years’ leave to remain, permission to work and recourse to
public funds. 28 days after their asylum is granted, people may be evicted from their asylum-seeker accommodation and their £39.62 pw stops. They can apply for Universal Credit, but that takes five weeks to be paid. People may become street-homeless at this point and they may apply to one of our partner organisations, Refugees at Home or Sanctuary Hosting, to find them a kind host who is willing to put individuals in a spare room.
What about families?
Often, because the journey is so dangerous, it is just one of the adults in a family who has
travelled ahead to the UK. They can apply for a family reunification visa to bring their spouse
and children over. If and when that is granted, the family will be given a very short period in which to travel: it can be as little as ten days. If they don’t make it to the UK in that time, they will lose their visa. They then have the problem of getting family accommodation when they have probably not even found a job yet. This is why WRP was founded.