If you want to seek asylum you should do so as soon as you enter the UK, or if you are already in the UK and your situation changes then as soon as you are aware that you will be unable to return to your home country. Engaging specialist asylum solicitors as early as possible can help to ensure that all steps are followed correctly, and help speed your application process.
You can apply for asylum if: you have left the country you are a national of, are unable to return because you fear persecution, are unable to live safely in other parts of the country and have failed to get protection from the authorities. Persecution must be because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group which puts you at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political situation in your country, e.g. your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
The first stage of your asylum application is called screening, and will take place at the UK border if you are entering the country, or at a screening assessment unit. You can ask for an interpreter to be present during your screening, but not your asylum solicitors. Your screening assessment will either result in you being issued with an application registration card or standard acknowledgement letter, or with you being detained. Detention does not mean that your application is likely to be unsuccessful, but that your application can be dealt with quickly, called a detained fast track process. You can also be detained if you don’t attend meetings with your caseworker, or if another country may be responsible for offering you asylum.
Once screening is completed, if you haven’t yet engaged any UK immigration solicitors then help may be available to you. It is usual to have asylum solicitors present during your asylum interview as well as their assistance in preparing for the interview and if necessary in making an appeal. There are a number of local “one stop service” charities who can help with finding you local UK immigration solicitors to assist with your claim, as well as help you with living in the UK while your claim is processed, including housing problems, applying for asylum support, dealing with agencies and finding English language lessons. The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner can also give legal advice on asylum and immigration issues, and assist with finding UK immigration solicitors in your area.
After screening there will be an asylum interview. This is usually without any family members, but you can have an interpreter and your asylum solicitors present. If your UK immigration solicitors cannot be present then you can request for the interview to be recorded for them to review later, ask at least a day before for them to set up the recording. You need to provide as much evidence and information at the interview as possible so that your case worker fully understands your situation and why you need asylum.