UKVI support and conditions for support
The type of support that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can provide and the factors considered when deciding whether to provide support.
UKVI support for asylum seekers
UKVI support may be provided in any of the following ways:
accommodation that is adequate for the needs of the asylum seeker and their dependants
support to meet the essential living needs of the asylum seeker and their dependants
funding of expenses, other than legal expenses, incurred by the asylum seeker in connection with their 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. This avoids dispersal from their community.
UKVI support during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Refugee Council has information on changes to asylum support as a result of the pandemic.
In one case, the High Court found that the Home Office’s failure to consider the need to communicate with friends and family during the Covid-19 pandemic for the purpose of support under section 95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 was unlawful. The Court held that the pandemic amounted to exceptional circumstances and confirmed that communication and travel were essential living needs for the purpose of asylum support.
Temporary support for asylum seekers
An asylum seeker may be provided with temporary support under section 98 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 while a decision on full asylum support is being considered.
Temporary support may be provided for an asylum seeker (or their dependants) if they appear to have an immediate need for housing and support.
The test of eligibility for temporary support is different from that for full support. 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 were introduced to provide accommodation and basic support to destitute asylum seekers who have applied to UKVI, until a decision regarding their entitlement to support has been made.
Asylum procedures and the system of support are explained to asylum seekers referred to an induction centre, where they 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 this they may travel to an address that they have notified to UKVI, where they are expected to stay under the terms of their temporary admission.
Asylum seeker support considerations
In deciding whether or not an asylum seeker should be provided with support, UKVI takes 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 interests 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.
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.
Items excluded from asylum support
Under the Asylum Support Regulations, the following cannot be provided as essential living needs:
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
Support if an asylum claim is refused
Conditions attached to an offer of support
Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, support is usually provided subject to conditions.
These conditions must be set out in writing and given to the person who is to receive asylum support.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may withdraw support where it has reason to suspect that the asylum seeker or any dependant has failed to comply with any condition subject to which support is provided.
The conditions that may be attached to an offer of support vary, but may include the:
requirement to travel to, or live at, a specified address
duty to notify UKVI of a change of circumstances
requirement to inform UKVI, and get permission, before leaving accommodation for a specified period of time
Many appeals to the Asylum Support Adjudicators are cases where UKVI has withdrawn support because an asylum seeker has breached conditions without reasonable excuse.
Last updated: 9 November 2021
s.96(1) Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
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.
JM v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2514 (Admin).
s.98 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
s.55 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009; ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 4.
R (on the application of MG) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3142 (Admin).
s.4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
s.4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
s.95(9)-(11) Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.