The circumstances in which an asylum claim may be treated as abandoned by an applicant have been extended with effect from 27 February 2015. Statement of Changes HC 1025 has inserted new wording into paragraph 333C of the Immigration Rules so that it provides:
An application may be treated as impliedly withdrawn if an applicant leaves the United Kingdom without authorisation at any time prior to the conclusion of his or her asylum claim, or fails to complete an asylum questionnaire as requested by the Secretary of State…
There are concerns that this will effectively increase administrative non compliance refusals of asylum, even if the language is that of “treating as withdrawn”. It is not hard to imagine circumstances where a newly arrived refugee with no resources, who is afraid of officialdom and who perhaps no ability to read and write English is not able to comply with Home Office written formalities. The justification in the explanatory statement is… unsympathetic:
Where an applicant is requested to complete an asylum questionnaire or provide a witness statement setting out their reasons for their claim and they fail to do so or they leave the UK without informing the Secretary of State of their intentions, these claims will, from now on be treated as withdrawn.
In addition, also from 27 February 2015, new provisions are introduced further to restrict grants of five years leave to remain leading to settlement in refugee and international protection claims. The justification is explained in the explanatory notes:
so that in cases where we cannot exclude or deny asylum, we are able to grant a shorter period of leave with a slower route to settlement and nationality. Such cases will also be subject to active monitoring and review with a view to revocation or cessation of status in response to bad behaviour or a change in the country situation.
The circumstances where five years of residence will not initially be granted is extended to to those whose “character, conduct or associations” are considered poor and those who have admitted a criminal offence as well as those who have been convicted. Settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR) can be delayed in a wider range of cases than previously.
The changes are already reflected in the online version of the Immigration Rules at Part 11.