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Eligibility for asylum support

You should be entitled to support from the UK Border Agency if you are an asylum seeker or dependent on an asylum seeker, you are destitute, and you made your claim for asylum as soon as you arrived in the UK. This page explains this in more detail, and looks at what you can do if you're not entitled to support.

Applying for support

You can apply for accommodation and support from the UK Border Agency at any time before you receive a final decision on your asylum claim. This means that even if you have been in the UK as an asylum seeker for several years you will still be able to apply for support.

Am I entitled to support?

To qualify for support from the UK Border Agency, you must satisfy four conditions. You must:

  • be an asylum seeker or dependent on an asylum seeker
  • be 'destitute'
  • have no other way of getting support in the UK
  • have made your claim for asylum as soon as possible after arriving in the UK.

Am I an asylum seeker?

To qualify for support from the UK Border Agency you must be at least 18 years old and have made a claim for asylum with the UK Border Agency.

When you make a claim for asylum you will be given an Application Registration Card and a Standard Acknowledgement Letter explaining your status and some of your rights to accommodation and support. You can find out more about this at the UK Border Agency website.

If you are under 18 and have come to the UK without your parents or anyone to look after you then you will be supported by your local council.

If you are unsure about your status then you should take your ID and Home Office documents to the Scottish Refugee Council. The Scottish Refugee Council will be able to offer you advice and information on how you can get support.

My claim for asylum has been rejected

If you have been told that your claim for asylum has been refused, you might be able to appeal against the decision. If you are waiting for the outcome of an appeal against that decision then you will still be classed as an asylum seeker and you will still be able to claim support from the UK Border Agency.

If your claim has been finally rejected and you are unable to make any further appeals then you will no longer be classed as an asylum seeker. If you are in this situation but can't go back to your home country then see the section on failed asylum seekers for information about how to get support.

Am I destitute?

Before it will offer you any support, the UK Border Agency must believe that you are destitute or likely to become destitute within the next two weeks.

For you to be classed as destitute, the UK Border Agency must believe that you are homeless or that it would be unreasonable to expect you to keep living in your current home. While the Agency is deciding whether or not it is reasonable for you to stay where you are it will consider:

  • whether you can afford to stay in your current home
  • whether you are at risk of violence in your current home
  • whether you can access the home.

The UK Border Agency is not allowed to take the following things into account in deciding whether it would be reasonable for you to remain in your current home:

  • whether you have a legal right to live in your home - this means that the Agency might decide you have somewhere suitable to live even if you don't own the property and you haven't signed a tenancy agreement for the property
  • where the accommodation is
  • whether the accommodation is temporary.

I have a home but no money

If you have somewhere to live that the UK Border Agency believes is suitable for you but you don't have enough money to live on, it might offer you financial support to cover your essential living costs but no accommodation.

In deciding whether you need financial help, the UK Border Agency will look at all your resources, including any income that you or anyone in your household has. It will also look at the value of any savings, land, vehicles or business materials that you have access to. If the UK Border Agency decides you need financial support than it will make weekly payments to you and your family.

Can my family get support from the UK Border Agency?

Members of your family and people that depend on you may also be able to claim support and accommodation from the UK Border Agency, even if they are not asylum seekers themselves. A person will be classed as dependent on you if they are:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • any of your children (or your husband, wife or civil partner's children) or members of your close family that were under 18 when you made your claim for asylum
  • anyone under the age of 18 who has been living with you, either since they were born or for at least six of the 12 months before you made your application for support
  • anyone that you or someone in your household cares for because they have a disability. The person being cared for must be a member of your or your spouse or civil partner's family and must have been living with you for six months of the year before your claim was made.
  • anyone that has been living with you as your partner (including same sex partners) for at least two of the three years before the claim is made or before they joined you in the UK.

If someone lives with you but they do not fit into any of the categories above they may still be able to claim support as your dependent. You should mention anyone you believe to be your dependent on your application for support.

The UK Border Agency refuses to give me support

If the UK Border Agency refuses to give you accommodation or support then you can make an appeal to the Asylum Support Tribunal to challenge that decision. For advice and help with making an appeal you should contact the Scottish Refugee Council.

My asylum application was late or delayed

In the past, the UK Border Agency might have refused to provide you with accommodation and support because you didn't make your claim for asylum as soon as you could after you arrived in the UK.

It could do this because of a law made by the UK Parliament. However since that law was passed, the House of Lords has decided that it is against your human rights for the UK Border Agency to refuse to provide you with housing just because you didn't claim asylum immediately after you arrived in the UK.

As a result, the UK Border Agency should always support asylum seekers if they are homeless and have no other way of getting support, even if they made their claim for asylum a long time after arriving in the United Kingdom.

Is the UK Border Agency has rejected your application for accommodation because you did not apply for asylum as soon as possible after you arrived in the UK then you should consider making another application to them. You should mention the court cases of Adam, Limbuela and Tesema on your application form. For more information and advice on this contact the Scottish Refugee Council

Can I get support from anywhere else?

The UK Border Agency will only offer you accommodation and support if you have no other means of supporting yourself in the UK. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get accommodation and support from other sources. Here are some examples:

  • You might not be able to get support from the UK Border Agency if you have a care need (for instance if you are unwell, disabled, mentally ill or elderly). If you have a care need then you may be able to receive accommodation and financial support from the council.
  • You may be able to receive benefits and housing assistance from your council if you made your claim for asylum before 3 April 2000. To fall into this category you must not yet have received any kind of decision from the UK Border Agency on your asylum claim. If you arrived before 3 April 2000 and you have been refused asylum but are currently making an appeal against that decision then you won't be able to claim benefits. Instead you might be able to receive support from the UK Border Agency.
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