Mistakes that Deny You the Right to Asylum in Britain
By Sarah Jamal
The search for an alternative homeland through asylum is no longer a goal limited to those who have been subjected to political persecution or sectarian discrimination, but has become a way out for many who wish to emigrate and seek asylum as a solution allowing them to leave their country to more stable countries. The United Kingdom has been one of the most prominent countries to embrace refugees for many decades. It is also marked by its relative proximity to the Middle East.
In Britain, thousands of asylum cases are rejected annually due to manipulation on the part of the applicants and their ineligibility to gain asylum. In many cases, the rejection is due to a mistake made by claim applicants, which prevents them from obtaining asylum.
Errors in the asylum procedure
The journey begins as soon as the asylum seeker arrives on British soil. Some people prefer to apply for asylum at the Passport Office in the airport, but this option is limited to individuals who have not previously applied for asylum elsewhere.
Also, residing for an extended period of time in countries that accept refugees before arriving in Britain reduces the chances of accepting the refugee’s claim, so the asylum seeker must find justifications for residing in that country and not submitting for asylum there.
Authorities will directly register your application to continue the necessary procedures, which begin with submitting all your documents to the relevant authorities in Britain.
The documents required include a valid or expired passport, a birth certificate or identity card, and any papers that support the refugee in the claim for asylum such as photos, articles, videos, testimonies from relevant persons, human rights reports, or court rulings.
One of the mistakes that asylum seekers often make is getting rid of identity papers. In destroying any identification documents, refugees will be required to prove their personal identity in any way possible, but those fleeing wars and humanitarian crises may be excluded from said rule.
Moreover, a refugee’s reliance on any sentimental personal account is a mistake that weakens the credibility of the claim. Official papers make stronger evidence to support asylum claims.
Others might resort to proving their right to asylum by submitting posts from social media, but those usually are not recognized as evidence by the investigator unless it caused the issuance of an arrest warrant for the asylum seeker or a court ruling against them, or if they were an influencer through social media.
In order to complete the registration process, the office takes a photograph of the refugee along with their fingerprints, then they are put through an interview.
If you are an asylum seeker in Britain, or any other country, remember that you are not the first one to go through the process. The investigator who decides the fate of your claim is quite knowledgeable on how to discover the real asylum seeker from the plaintiff, so any false stories will be of no help to you whatsoever.
The interview is sure to be marked by hours of holding your breath while waiting to receive the questions, and anyone would seem disoriented in those moments; the interviewers are well aware of this, but don’t expect them to sympathize with you. Try to remain calm, so you can recall the sequence of events that have befallen you in great detail, and further explain the uncertain state your country was in when you left. The interviewer will often be attended by a translator and notary to verify your data and translate what you say.
Pretending to be afraid will not be of use if you did not truly suffer in your country. Some people may experience psychological trauma in their country, losing all feelings of fear or the ability to express it.
Expect the interviewer to repeat some questions more than once in an evasive manner; he does so to ensure the truthfulness of the refugees’ story. The questions may include the routes you took since leaving your home until you arrived in Britain, your chosen means of transportation, who you met on the way, dates and perhaps times, and why you decided to come to Britain to seek refuge, and many other unexpected questions. Some of the enquiries may seem superficial, but the interviewer is always on the hunt to find any small loophole to discredit your story.
“Honesty” is the key to the asylum claim interview, you will give a clear account of everything, in hoping that the interviewer will look at you and not at the paper in front of him. At the end of the day, not even thousands of papers can express what is inside you, and they can never carry between their lines the reality that you and your family lived through, which forced you to live as a refugee in a country you could have never imagined settling into one day. Remember, the interviewer may in fact believe in your case, but they will never give you the sympathetic eye you wish for. It is simply not their role.
A different religious, ethnic, or political affiliation is one of the most prominent factors for seeking asylum, in the case you were persecuted in your country for one of these reasons. The reasons for asylum also include cultural opinions or gender identity. Verifying the claims of an asylum seeker is easy for an interviewer but proving them is very complex and difficult for the refugee.
Legal residence in Britain
Once the asylum case is approved, refugees are given a British identity card (ARC), in order to legalize their stay.
The asylum procedure takes at least six months, sometimes up to two years, depending on the speed of the British bureaucracy.
The asylum seeker and his/her family are provided with housing and monthly financial support, and they are not entitled to work in Britain until after being granted asylum. In some cases where the asylum application is mulled over for over a year, the asylum seeker is granted a work permit if their specialization matches one of the jobs in which the British labour market suffers from severe shortages, and the government announces a list of these jobs on the UK website.
It is also possible to benefit from the health insurance service in the housing area, and the free education provided for children, in addition to possibility of the refugee being granted a government loan for university studies.
Refugees receive humane asylum for a period of three years, subject to review, while political refugees get asylum for five years if the authorities are convinced there is a real danger to their life.
In the case that an asylum seeker is rejected this right, they shall be informed of the reasons that led to the decision in a written letter. They can then appeal against said decision in the competent courts. In the event that the Court of Appeal upholds the refusal to grant asylum, the refugee is given a return ticket to his country of origin, as well as £2,000 to cover their expenses, which is a legal decision in their opinion.
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