Having practiced asylum law for a number of years, a common theme for some asylum seekers is the fact that there is a delay in processing of their asylum claims. Although the Home Office service standard says that an asylum applicant can expect a decision within 6 months of making their claim, I as a lawyer and many asylum seekers often find that this is not the case.
I have therefore written this blog post to set out some actions that can be taken that may help to speed things along.
1. Write to the Home Office
The first port of call is to write directly to the Home Office to find out why there has been a delay and how long it is likely to take.
We recommend that this is done via email or Recorded Delivery so that you have evidence that the request for an update was sent.
If you have a solicitor representing you, you can ask them to do this on your behalf.
2. Approach your Member of Parliament
Contact your MP and ask them to write to the MP Liaison Unit at the Home Office requesting an update about your case. We have found that on occasions, an MP may receive a response from the Home Office where a client themselves or their solicitor may not.
This can also be a useful tool in putting pressure on the Home Office.
3. Issue Judicial Review Proceedings
Issuing legal proceedings against the Home Office for unnecessary delay in an asylum claim may seem like a drastic measure, but in our experience, this is often what it takes to achieve a decision on cases that have experienced significant delays.
Such proceedings are known as Judicial Review. It should be borne in mind that this process itself takes some time and can be expensive. However, we have seen at Batley Law, that it can work, as can be seen from the example below.
Aram (not his real name) came to the UK in order to claim asylum. He was 16 at the time of his asylum claim. He completed his screening interview, but then had a long wait for his substantive interview. In fact he had been waiting for more than 18 months. At this point, he was referred to Batley Law by an adviser at the Refugee Council.
Aram explained that the delay was causing him stress and anxiety and this was backed up my medical evidence, and evidence from his social worker. We were also able to show that the delay caused a detriment to his future chances of securing leave to remain, as he was now closer to becoming an adult, thus losing entitlement to discretionary leave as an unaccompanied minor at the very least.
We felt that Aram had a strong case to challenge the unreasonable and unjustified delay. We helped Aram and issued proceedings for him. The Home Office eventually agreed, and settled the matter agreeing to make a decision within 6 weeks.
In the end, Aram achieved his aim of receiving a decision on his asylum claim. It is unlikely that this would have happened without having taken the case to judicial review.