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This section explains:

  • who may be given asylum in the UK;
  • how we process applications for asylum;
  • what an asylum applicant can expect while we consider their application; and
  • what happens after our decision has been made.

The UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for genuine refugees. However, we are determined to refuse protection to those who do not need it, and will take steps to remove those who are found to have made false claims.

Asylum is protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country. It is given under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. To be recognised as a refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you have a well-founded fear of persecution.

The UK also adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prevents us sending someone to a country where there is a real risk that they will be exposed to torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

If you do not qualify for asylum but we think there are humanitarian or other reasons why we should allow you to stay in the UK, we may give you temporary permission to stay here.

In 2007, 19 of every 100 people who applied for asylum were recognised as refugees and given asylum. Another 9 of every 100 who applied for asylum did not qualify for refugee status but were given permission to stay for humanitarian or other reasons. (When these figures were published, 17 of every 100 applications had not yet resulted in a final decision.)

For more information about the number of asylum applications we receive and their outcomes, read the Home Office's Immigration and asylum statistics.

See Claiming asylum to find out how to make an application.

We now aim to conclude all new asylum applications within 6 months. This means that within 6 months:

  • a successful applicant will start integration into life in the UK; or
  • an unsuccessful applicant will return home, either voluntarily or by enforced removal.

You can find more information about this in the Asylum process section.

For the full technical details of the policy and process that our asylum staff follow, see Policy and law.

If you are an organisation that works with asylum applicants (including those who have already been given or refused asylum), you can find out about our projects and other work in the Working with migrants from outside Europe section.