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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

Asylum Update: New Guidance on Permission to Work & Asylum Decisions Taking Longer

05 June 2019 Jack Freeland Blog

Those who claim asylum in the UK are not normally allowed to work whilst their claim is being considered. However, the Home Office may grant permission to work to asylum seekers whose claim has been outstanding for more than 12 months through no fault of their own.

This is however permission to work in name only, due to it being restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list published by the Home Office. The vast majority of asylum seekers granted permission to work will be unable to ever actually use that permission, as they will never be eligible for the small number of highly specialised jobs on the list. Some light at the end of the tunnel perhaps is a recent review from the Migration Advisory Committee which has recommended an expansion of the shortage occupation list. Whether or not the list will in fact be expanded remains to be seen. Either way, it will likely not go far enough for campaigns to lift the ban entirely, which have increasingly been gathering momentum.

The Home Office’s updated asylum policy guidance on permission to work for asylum applicants does not make any substantial policy changes; updating the process for amending ARC cards and updating travel costs information. However, this comes at the same time as the Home Office declaring that they are moving away from the six-month target for making asylum decisions. Previously, the Home Office policy was for a decision to be made on an asylum application within six months of the substantive interview, with exceptions for more complex cases.

The Home Office said:

“We are committed to ensuring that asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay, to ensure that individuals who need protection are granted asylum as soon as possible and can start to integrate and rebuild their lives, including those granted at appeal.

We have moved away from the six-month service standard to concentrate on cases with acute vulnerability and those in receipt of the greatest level of support, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).”

The six-month target has been repeatedly missed over the years and it is perhaps not surprising that the Home Office are acknowledging the issue. In 2017, only 75% of cases were not decided within six months. 25%, over 14,300 people, were not. With increasing delays comes an increasing likelihood of applicants seeking permission to work while they wait. Whether that permission being granted has any meaningful impact on their lives is another matter.

If you require assistance with your asylum claim, contact us to speak with one of our solicitors for expert advice about your claim and the asylum process.

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