48,540asylum applications were made in the last 12 months.
There were 48,540 asylum applications (main applicants only) in the UK in the year ending December 2021, a 63% increase from the previous year. Asylum applications across the rest of the EU have also seen an increase.
In the year ending December 2021, the top five countries of origin of people seeking asylum were Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Albania, and Syria.
In terms of the number of asylum applications per head of population, the UK ranks 18th highest in Europe.
As the UK’s involvement in the Dublin II arrangements ended, the government now makes decisions to seek another country’s agreement to process the claim on an individual basis.
Having laid new rules and guidance that came into force at the very end of 2020 the Home Office now issues ‘notices of intent’ telling the applicant it is making enquiries of other countries through which the person seeking asylum has travelled.
In 2021, 8,593 people were issued with notices of intent to inform them that their case was being reviewed in order to determine whether their removal on inadmissibility grounds was possible.
Of these, 64 were subsequently served with inadmissibility decisions, meaning the UK would not admit the asylum claim for consideration in the UK system, because another country was considered to be responsible for the claim, owing to the claimant’s previous presence in or connection to a safe country. Of these, 11 people were returned to a third country.
3,142 people who had been issued with a notice of intent were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum process for substantive consideration of their asylum claim.
In summary, of the 8,593 notices of intent issued in 2021, 37% have received a decision, of which 98% were subsequently admitted into the UK asylum system.
71% of initial decisions made in the year to December 2021 have been grants of protection, meaning they have been awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection. A total of 12,835 people were granted protection in the year ending December 2021 as a result of an asylum claim, a 51% rise from the previous year where 8,516 people were granted protection.
The Home Office also grants other forms of leave to people who have claimed asylum, as well as grants of protection through the resettlement programmes. Over the last 12 months, 14,422 people were granted status in the UK through the asylum system or resettlement programmes.
The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year to December 2021 was 49% (almost unchanged from the previous year). The appeal success rate has been steadily increasing over the last decade (up from 29% in 2010).
The quality of decision making is often poor, with many refugees having to rely on the courts to award protection following an appeal of the Government’s initial decision. The appeals process can be complex and lengthy, with people seeking asylum having to wait months for their appeals to be heard.
Thousands of people have to wait years for a final decision on their claim, meaning they are left in limbo and unable to plan for their futures.
The backlog in cases awaiting an initial decision continued to rise to another record high. At the end of December 2021, 100,564 people were waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum. Of these, 61,864 (61%) have been waiting for more than 6 months, up from 46,796 this time last year. Whilst there has been a steady rise in this backlog for the last few years, the impact of Covid-19 on the decision-making process and an increase in the number of asylum applications in 2021 has exacerbated this further.
Each one of these represents a person anxiously awaiting news of their fate, with no idea how much longer they will be forced to live in poverty.
At the end of December 2021, 84,457* people seeking asylum were being supported by the Government.
Of these, 24,175 individuals were in receipt of support under Section 98, up from 12,235 the previous year. A further 54,669 were in receipt of Section 95 support and 5,613 people were in receipt of Section 4 support.
People seeking asylum are banned from working and are provided with less than £6 per day from the Government to cover the costs of their basic necessities. Could you live on less than £6 per day?
* This includes people supported under Section 95, Section 4 and Section 98 of the Immigration Act 1999.
71%of applications granted asylum or protection at the initial decision stage in the year ending December 2021.
The UK Government has the power to detain people who are here seeking refuge. Sometimes this even includes children. There is no maximum time limit in place for people held in detention, meaning people are held indefinitely.
The latest statistics show that there were 1,179 people in detention in immigration removal centres at the end of December 2021; among them were 622 people seeking asylum. This equates to a 42% increase from the previous year.
In the same period, there were 21,194 occurrences of people being released back into the community, indicating flaws in the Government’s detention regime.
Despite a Government promise in 2010 to end the practice of detaining children, there were 100 occurrences of children entering immigration detention in the year ending December 2021. No children were held in detention at the end of December 2021.
It is not just adults and families who come to the UK in search of safety; unaccompanied children, some as young as under 14 years old, also seek Britain’s protection.
In the last 12 months, there were 3762 applications from unaccompanied children, 3% more than the previous year; accounting for 8% of total asylum applications.
Of the children whose claims were decided in the last 12 months, 83% were granted asylum.
A further 24 unaccompanied children were granted short term leave to remain which expires after 2.5 years, leaving them uncertain and anxious about their futures.
The top country of origin for applications from unaccompanied children in the last 12 months was Iran.
The moment someone receives a positive decision on their asylum claim should be one of celebration and relief, an end to instability, and the start of a bright future where they are able to establish new lives in the UK. Instead, many newly-recognised refugees experience homelessness and/or destitution, right at this point.
The Home Office provides accommodation on a no-choice basis and subsistence support of under £6 per day for people seeking asylum if they would otherwise be destitute. But once they are awarded status, this support stops after just 28-days. Faced with a cliff edge and no support to find new housing, open a bank account, and secure income, among other activities needed before being evicted, many refugees are at significant risk of homelessness and/or destitution.
Attention has been drawn to this vital form of refugee protection recently with the Government’s announcement to create a resettlement scheme for 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, a positive first step in the right direction to support the many people affected by this tragic conflict.
However, resettlement only supports a fraction of those in need.
Just 1% of the world’s refugees will ever be resettled anywhere, which means many refugees face a long, uncertain wait to hear if they will ever be able to rebuild their lives in safety.
There were 1,587 people granted protection through resettlement schemes in the year ending December 2021. This is a 90% increase on the previous year, due to resettlement activity being paused between March and November 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1,125 people (71% of all those resettled) were resettled through the UK Resettlement scheme (UKRS), 316 people were resettled via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (which both closed at the end of February 2021), 144 through Community Sponsorship and 2 Mandate schemes.
The most common nationalities of those resettled were Syrian (76%), Iraqi (8%) and Sudanese (3%).
War and persecution often divide refugees from their families but there are few straightforward, legal ways for refugees to safely join loved ones in Britain.
One of the few safe and regular routes for refugees to join their loved ones in the UK is via refugee family reunion visas. In the year ending December 2021, 6,134 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, an 28% increase compared to the previous year.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the number of visas granted in 2020 fell dramatically, though these started to recover in 2021.
The Family Reunion rules are incredibly restrictive. Only spouses and dependent children are eligible to apply for family reunion visas. People who have been granted protection in the UK may be alone, distraught and worried about the safety of their family who may still be in danger. Even unaccompanied children are not allowed to apply for their parents to join them in the UK. That is why we are campaigning to bring #FamiliesTogether.
Another way in which refugees could be allowed to travel to the UK safely is through the Mandate scheme. This enables refugees in other countries to join their families in Britain. Only 2 people arrived via this route in the twelve months ending December 2021.