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Asylum

Home Office written question – answered on 26th June 2020.

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Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the date of receipt was of the oldest outstanding asylum claim.

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish the information she holds on trends in the level of time taken from the date of an asylum claim to the date of a substantive asylum interview in the last five years.

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce the time between the date of an asylum claim and the date of a substantive asylum interview.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The date of receipt of the oldest outstanding asylum claim is 23rd August 2012.

There are cases in particular where more complex issues arise around a claimant’s entitlement to asylum and there is a need for us to engage in wider stakeholder involvement, alongside additional analysis and scrutiny. These cases continue to be processed as quickly as possible, but the Secretary of State has to be satisfied that our decisions are compliant with the 1951 Refugee Convention prior to service as this is a mandatory requirement.

The Home Office does not routinely publish information on the trends in the level of time taken from the date of an asylum claim to the date of a substantive asylum interview as this information is not held in a reportable format

However, the Home Office do publish information on the number of main asylum applications awaiting an initial decision, by duration from the period end of March 2020, and can be found in table ASY_04 of the published Immigration statistics www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2020/list-of-tables#asylum-and-resettlement

Over the last 18 months, UK Visas and Immigration have increased the number of Asylum decision makers and support staff as part of a rolling recruitment campaign and mobilised a transformation programme that seeks to simplify, streamline and digitise processes as part of the plans to speed up the asylum decision making process and reduce the time from date of claim to substantive interview.

In line with the Home Office’s commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff and applicants as a top priority in response to COVID-19, Asylum Operations made the decision to cease face to face substantive asylum interviews with effect from Thursday 19th March 2020.

However, it is crucial to our applicants that we restart processing their applications for protection as soon as it is safe to do so. The Home Office has successfully used video technology to support remote interviewing for more than 2 years and has appropriate operating procedures that are designed to ensure participants are able to give the best account of their circumstances.

To keep people safe but allow the Home Office to gather the additional information needed to make a decision on their claim for protection, Asylum Operations have secured additional mobile digital and video interviewing kit that enables more applicants to be interviewed remotely. We remain committed to restarting substantive asylum interviews as soon we can establish a process that allows the participants - applicants, representatives, interpreters and interviewers - to do so safely.

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