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Losing asylum support

If you are dishonest when you apply for support from the UK Border Agency or if you don't tell the Agency when your circumstances change then your and your family's support could be stopped. This page explains what you can do in this situation.

Be honest

If you've fled your home country and you're feeling scared and alone, it's understandable that you might be worried about telling the authorities everything. However, it's really important that you're honest about your circumstances if you're applying for asylum support.

Lying about your situation or breaking the UK Border Agency's rules could also result in you facing criminal charges. It is even possible that the UK Border Agency might make you pay back the cost of the support it has given you in the past, so it's really important to be honest at all times.

When can the UK Border Agency take away my support?

You can have your housing and financial support taken away from you at any time if the UK Border Agency believes that you or someone you live with has done any of the following things listed below. If you think you might have done any of these things, you should get in touch with the Scottish Refugee Council straight away. They will be able to offer you information and advice about your options.

Breaking the rules of your accommodation

These rules can be found in the contract or occupancy agreement you signed when you moved into the accommodation you are in at the moment. You should read over these carefully to make sure you know what you can and cannot do while the UK Border Agency are providing you with support.

Serious violent behaviour

The violence doesn't need to have happened in or near your accommodation for it to result in your support being stopped.

Not staying at your accommodation without telling the UK Border Agency

Your support can be taken away if you don't stay in your accommodation for seven days and nights in a row or for 14 nights over a six month period. You should try to keep track of how many nights you are spending away from home. If you think you are in danger of spending more time away than is allowed then you must tell the UK Border Agency straight away and explain clearly the reason for your absence. Long periods of absence should, however, be avoided.

Not replying to a request for information in time

The UK Border Agency may withdraw support if you don't reply to a request for information from the Secretary of State within five days, or 10 days if the request is not from the Secretary of State. Therefore, any letter or phone call you get about your claim for asylum or the support you receive from the UK Border Agency should be dealt with straight away. If you are not sure what a letter says or what it means then you should phone or visit the Scottish Refugee Council as soon as possible.

Missing an interview with the UK Border Agency

If there is an emergency and it is completely impossible for you to get to a meeting then you must contact the UK Border Agency straight away and explain the situation to them.

Not telling the UK Border Agency about money or other items of value that you have

You must tell the UK Border Agency straight away if you have access to any income or assets that they do not know about.

Failing to report to the UK Border Agency after you were told to do so

If you are asked to report to the UK Border Agency, you must do so.

making a second claim for asylum before you have been given a decision on the first one

You must get a decision on your first asylum claim before taking any further action.

Making dishonest statements

The UK Border Agency can also take away your money and accommodation if they find out that you have made dishonest statements, even if those statements don't fit into any of the categories listed above.

How will the UK Border Agency make a decision about me?

Before the UK Border Agency decides to stop your support either permanently or temporarily it will consider your situation very carefully. It should look at all the circumstances of your case and pay particular attention to whether or not you are a vulnerable person. You will be classed as a vulnerable person if:

  • you are under the age of 18
  • you are disabled
  • you are elderly
  • you are pregnant
  • you are a lone parent.
  • you have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence - you will only fall into this category if you have had an individual evaluation of your situation which has confirmed that you have special needs.

What should I do if my support is withdrawn?

Appeal the decision

If the UK Border Agency withdraws your support then you can make an appeal against their decision to the Asylum Support Tribunal. For more information read the page on making an appeal.

Reapply to the UK Border Agency

If your appeal to the Asylum Support Tribuna fails, you can try reapplying for support from the UK Border Agency. However, the Agency will only accept your application for support if:

  • there has been a change in your circumstances, or
  • the Home Secretary thinks your circumstances are exceptional, or
  • your human rights would be breached if the UK Border Agency didn't give you support.

For more information on how to make an application for support see the page on applying for support.

Will I have to leave my accommodation?

If the UK Border Agency stop providing you with financial support they may also stop providing you with accommodation. You can only be asked to leave your accommodation if you are given a written notice to quit at least seven days before you are supposed to leave the home.

If your accommodation is withdrawn you can make an appeal to the Asylum Support Tribunal. You should also approach Positive Action in Housing or the Scottish Refugee Council. These organisations will be able to offer you advice and possibly emergency accommodation if you are evicted from your home.

What if I have to pay back support?

If you received support that you weren't entitled to because you made a false statement or failed to tell the UK Border Agency about a change in your circumstances, you may be asked to repay that support. The UK Border Agency will only be able to make you do this if it obtains a court order giving it permission to do so.

The Agency will also be able to make you pay back the support it has given you if:

  • you were receiving support even though you did not need it because you had enough money and/or somewhere to live
  • money or other valuable items that you did not have or could not get to while you were receiving support from the UK Border Agency have now become available.

In these cases, the UK Border Agency won't need to get a court order to make you pay the money back.

You should get in touch with the Scottish Refugee Council or consult a solicitor immediately if you think the UK Border Agency might ask you to repay your support.

Can the UK Border Agency bring criminal charges against me?

The UK Border Agency can bring criminal charges against you if you:

  • make dishonest statements in order to get support
  • delay or deliberately try to stop the process of applying for or receiving support
  • don't support someone that you said you would be supporting when you applied to the UK Border Agency.

The Agency can also apply to the court for a warrant to search your property if they think you are not using it as you should be or that you are letting people stay with you without telling them.

For information about what you should do if you are charged with a criminal offence you should contact either a solicitor or the Scottish Refugee Council.

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