Asylum Applications

Home Department written question – answered on 11th December 2002.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he plans to issue to clarify the circumstances in which an in-country asylum applicant should be considered to have made their claim within a 'reasonably practicable period' for the purposes of determining whether they are entitled to support by the National Asylum Support Service; whether asylum seekers will be exempt from having to show that they have made their claim as soon as reasonably practicable if they are in-county applicants who (a) suffer from a recognised disability, (b) suffer from a serious physical, mental or psychological illness, (c) are pregnant, (d) suffer from serious trauma, (e) have been subject to human rights abuse, (f) are drug or alcohol dependent, and (g) are over the age of 60; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism)

holding answer 10 December 2002

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 which comes into force on 8 January 2003, will prevent the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) from providing support unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person applied for asylum as soon as reasonably practicable after arrival in the United Kingdom.

Case-workers in NASS will receive training on how this new measure should be applied. In addition guidance will also be issued to local authorities.

I can confirm that in practice, if an applicant makes a claim immediately on arrival at the port then they will be able to access asylum support, provided they otherwise qualify. If the person fails, without good reason, to make an asylum claim immediately at the port of arrival then support will be refused.

Families with children will, however, receive asylum support even if they did not apply as soon as reasonably practicable.

In addition, those who claim asylum in-country following a significant change in circumstances in their country of origin (provided they make their asylum claim at the earliest possible opportunity following that change of circumstance) will be supported by NASS.

In addition asylum seekers who successfully show that a refusal of support by NASS will result, for example, in a breach of Article 3 European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) will be granted support by NASS.

Local authorities will continue to be able to provide support to asylum seekers under the National Assistance Act 1948 (or in Scotland the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968) but only where they are presently empowered to do so, ie where special needs have been identified so as to engage those provisions.

Whether the particular types of case which are referred to will be eligible for support will depend on whether, on the particular facts of the case, the claim for asylum has been made as soon as reasonably practicable and, if not, whether the case falls within one of the exceptions referred to above.

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