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Type of assistance provided

This content applies to England

The type of support that UKVI (formerly UK Border Agency) can provide, the factors taken into account when deciding whether to provide support, and excluded items .

Overview

Support from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may be provided in any of the following ways:[1]

  • accommodation that is adequate for the needs of the asylum seeker and her/his dependants
  • support to meet the essential living needs of the asylum seeker and her/his dependants[2]
  • funding of expenses, other than legal expenses, incurred by the asylum seeker in connection with her/his asylum claim
  • payment of expenses that the asylum seeker (and/or any dependants) has incurred in attending bail hearings
  • services such as education, English language classes and other things such as sporting activities
  • if the circumstances of a particular case are exceptional, any other support which UKVI considers necessary.

Since it is possible for UKVI to provide for essential living expenses only, some asylum seekers may choose to claim 'subsistence only' support without accommodation whilst living with friends or family, thus avoiding dispersal from their community.

Temporary support under section 98 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

An asylum seeker may be provided with temporary support while a decision on full asylum support is being considered.[3] Temporary support may be provided for an asylum seeker (or her/his dependants) if s/he appears to have an immediate need for housing and support.

The test of eligibility for temporary support is different from that for full support and an asylum seeker who appears likely to become destitute within 14 days, but not immediately, is entitled to asylum support under section 95(1)(b) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, but not temporary support.

Induction centres

Induction centres were introduced to provide accommodation and basic support to destitute asylum seekers who have applied for UKVI, until a decision regarding their entitlement to support has been made. Asylum procedures and the system of support will be explained to asylum seekers referred to an induction centre, where they will also receive basic health screening. The anticipated period of stay in the induction centre is between seven and 10 days, and this may be a condition of the asylum seeker's temporary admission into the UK.

Asylum seekers who do not require UKVI support are likely to be at the induction center for one day only, after which they may travel to an address that they have notified to UKVI, where they will be expected to stay under the terms of their temporary admission.

Factors taken into consideration

In deciding whether or not an asylum seeker should be provided with support, UKVI will take into consideration factors such as the income and assets available to an asylum applicant. This includes any cash, savings, land, investments, vehicles and other goods that may be used for business purposes. UKVI may also look into whether the applicant has breached any conditions under which support has been, or is being provided.

Best interest of children

When children are likely to be affected by its decisions, UKVI must treat the best interest of those children as a primary consideration by identifying their interests and assessing them against other considerations outweighing their best interests.[5] In one case, the UKVI's decision to accommodate an asylum seeker more than 100 miles away from his young son and its refusal to pay travel costs to allow the father to maintain face-to-face contact with his son was found to be unlawful and a breach of Art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[6]

Excluded items

Under the Asylum Support Regulations, the following cannot be provided as essential living needs:[7]

  • the cost of sending or receiving faxes
  • computers and the cost of computer facilities
  • the cost of photocopying
  • travel expenses (other than expenses incurred in travelling to designated UKVI accommodation)
  • toys and other recreational items
  • entertainment expenses.

Section 4 support

If a person's claim for asylum has been refused, and s/he is no longer an asylum seeker for support purposes, and if s/he is destitute, s/he may still be able to obtain section 4 accommodation and subsistence from UKVI.[7] (For more information on Section 4 support, see the page Negative asylum decision).

[1] s.96(1) Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

[2] reg.10 Asylum Support Regulations 2000 SI 2000/704, amended with effect from 10 August 2015 by the Asylum Support (Amendment No.3) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/1501.

[3] s.98 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

[4] reg 9(4) Asylum Support Regulations 2000 SI 2000/704.

[5] s.55 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009; ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4.

[6] R (on the application of MG) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 3142 (Admin).

[7] s.4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

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