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New Asylum Arrangements

Law Centre (NI) and other NGOs recently convinced the UK Border Agency to reverse a policy change which would have raised serious practical difficulties for applicants and NGOs alike.

Some of the planned changes have been put in place. It is important that people wishing to claim asylum or lodge further representations should be aware of these. 

On 13 October 2009, the UK Border Agency announced a policy change due to take effect the following day. The notification required all in-country asylum applicants to lodge their asylum applications in person at UKBA Croydon and required some applicants wishing to lodge further representations to do so in person at UKBA Liverpool.  The new arrangements raised practical difficulties.  We were concerned that this would deter people from the asylum system and would place a considerable financial burden on the NGOs funding travel for applicants.

The Law Centre highlighted these difficulties to UKBA and to Northern Ireland government officials, political parties and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Other NGOs, including the Red Cross, NICRAS and EMBRACE also voiced their concerns.

UKBA has now reinstated the previous concession that enables applicants to lodge asylum applications in Northern Ireland through the Bryson One Stop Shop service.

Applicants who wish to lodge further representations must do so in person and must contact UKBA Drumkeen House1 to book an appointment. Applicants and their practitioners may wish to use a new UKBA form as a template for further submissions.2 UKBA will make a decision on the further submissions before it considers granting access to ‘Section 4’ asylum support. Delays in processing the forms may result in applicants becoming destitute as they cannot access ‘Section 4’ asylum support.  It remains to be seen how this will work in practice.

It is essential that people wishing to claim asylum do so at the earliest opportunity. The Law Centre’s immigration advice line can provide further information about these changes.

1. For more information contact: UKBA, Drumkeen House, Belfast. Tel: 028 9019 1004, Monday to Friday 0900-1700.

2. The new form and accompanying guidance can be found at:
www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/outcomes/unsuccessfulapplications/further-submissions

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