I thought it was high time for a general advice post, as it’s been a while since the last one. This one is about fresh claims for asylum.
A failed asylum seeker can apply for asylum again; this is referred to as a ‘fresh claim’. By ‘asylum’, I’m referring here to both the Refugee Convention and to human rights protection. To stop people claiming asylum over and over again, there is a test that a fresh claim has to meet before it will be properly considered by the Home Office. This test for whether a claim is fresh is set out in Immigration Rule 353 and is essentially:
1. Does the asylum seeker have anything new to say, or has anything changed since last time?
2. Does this change of circumstances or new information give the new asylum claim a realistic prospect of success in front of an immigration judge?
The procedure is that the asylum seeker gets together all of the relevant new information and submits it to the Home Office, usually by post rather than attending in person. The Home Office then decide (a) whether the test for a fresh claim is met and then if so (b) whether to grant asylum. One might have thought that if the test for a fresh claim was met, the Home Office would grant asylum, but what often happens in practise is either the Home Office say the fresh claim test is not met or even if it is met, they still refuse to grant asylum. There is no appeal in the first scenario, there is a right of appeal in the second scenario.
If the Home Office will not even accept that the fresh claim test is met, the only way the decision can be challenged is by a process called judicial review. This is not a straightforward process and a solicitor is needed.
There are a lot of failed asylum seekers still in the UK. No-one seems to know how many. This is the consequence of the Home Office policy of kicking failed asylum seekers out of their accommodation and making them destitute but not removing them; inevitably, many drop off the radar and end up working illegally to try and feed themselves.
The main types of fresh claims are as follows:
- Where there is a change of country conditions, which means that those who were previously refused asylum because their country was relatively safe are now potentially in danger. There have recently been a lot of Sri Lankan and Zimbabwean fresh claims on this sort of basis.
- Where there is a change in a person’s personal circumstances. For example, if after the last claim was decided a person enters into a serious relationship and/or has children or develops a serious medical condition, that person might have a fresh human rights claim to put forward.
- Where new evidence comes to light. If the person’s personal credibility as a witness of truth was completely destroyed in an earlier claim for asylum, any evidence that he or she puts forward will of course be looked at with scepticism. Generally evidence from an independent and perhaps verifiable source is more useful. If the evidence was previously available then questions will be asked about why it was not put forward previously.
Succeeding in fresh claims is not easy. However, with a good and persistent lawyer and with good evidence, fresh claims for asylum can and do succeed.