Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

United Kingdom

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 30/05/23


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From time to time the Home Office announces that removals of refused asylum seekers to particular countries are suspended. This is rare and there are no such concessions currently in force. The only one in the last ten years was in relation to Zimbabwe, but this is no longer in force. When there is such a concession in force, refused asylum seekers from that country become eligible to apply for a specific form of support, known as “Section 4 support” and which covers accommodation and non-cash support (see section on Reception Conditions).[1]

The response to a political / humanitarian crisis can also be through immigration routes. Immigration visa concessions have been authorised by Ministers on an annual basis; the latest one relating to Afghans was introduced in January 2022.[2] The concession applies to those nationals already in the UK with valid visas who may be able to avoid the usual conditions when extending or switching to another category. In addition to visa schemes aimed at Ukrainians seeking to leave Ukraine for the UK, to join a family or sponsor, those living lawfully in the UK those who had a valid visa could apply to extend that for a period of three years under the Ukraine visa extension scheme.[3]

The Upper Tribunal (IAC) has the power to make findings of fact which constitute binding ‘country guidance’ for other cases. Depending on whether these issues are brought before the tribunal in a particular case, there may from time to time be binding country guidance about the impact of a crisis.

From time to time the Home Office may accept that as a matter of fact there is no safe route of return for certain refused asylum seekers. This may be as a result of country guidance from the Tribunal or as a result of the Home Office’s own factual findings. This qualifies the asylum seekers for a specific form of support (see section on Reception Conditions) but does not in itself entail a grant of status.

When considering the treatment of particular caseloads at first instance, it is worth noting that the countries with some of the highest success rates at appeal during 2022 were

Appeal success rates for key nationalities: 2022
Country of origin Successful appeals Success rate
El Salvador 88 71%
Sri Lanka 75 71%
Iran 197 68%
Ethiopia 75 68%
Vietnam 92 58%
Albania 95 57%

Source: Home Office. Withdrawn appeals not included.


In 2022 there were 1,718 grants of refugee status to Syrians, and the overall refugee status rate was 98%. Nine individuals were refused on third country grounds. Although data on disputed nationality are not published, we understand that a proportion of refused applicants from countries with very high refugee recognition rates will include those whose claimed nationality is disputed. Revised guidance on this issue was published in 2017.[4]

The first specific resettlement programme was announced in January 2014; this had no specific quota. In September 2015 the government committed to resettle 20,000 Syrians by the end of the parliament in 2020. This quota had been reached by the end of February 2021; the delay largely being caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic. In June 2019 the then Home Secretary committed to resettling 5,000 refugees in the year following the end of the current programme (from April 2020).[5] However, this was not met and there is currently no annual commitment for the resettlement of refugees. 1,185 refugees were resettled in 2022, 569 (48%) of them from Syria.[6]

In March 2017 the Home Secretary announced that from 1 July 2017 people who have been resettled would be granted Refugee Status and those already here under a resettlement programme would be allowed to convert their status to recognise them as refugees.[7] In July 2017 the Home Secretary announced that people of any nationality fleeing Syria would be eligible for resettlement, if they fulfilled the other criteria. [8]

The government launched a Community Sponsorship scheme as part of the VPRS programme. There are strict criteria for becoming a sponsor, including the type of organisation that can apply and the need to be approved by the local authority before applying to the Home Office. Guidance was issued at the same time as the scheme was launched.[9]

The government also committed to resettling an additional 3,000 individuals under a ‘children at risk’ programme. In partnership with UNHCR, the UK brought children from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; a minority of whom are expected to be unaccompanied. The government announced the programme in response to calls to bring children from Europe. The scheme was closed at the end of February 2021 when all the quota had been resettled.

An Afghan resettlement scheme (ACRS) was also announced, firstly in August 2021 but with details in January 2022. Of the three identified pathways only one will afford refugee status (pathway 2), taking referrals from UNHCR in line with the usual resettlement pathway. By the end of 2022, 22 people had been resettled through this pathway. Others who were evacuated in 2021 or are to be brought directly with the assistance of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will be given leave outside of the Immigration Rules.[10] 272 people were given places on these pathways in 2022, including 23 people resettled through community sponsorship.

Information about the funding to local authorities to enable them to support resettled refugees is publicly available.[11] However, at the end of 2022 9,483 people, around half of whom were children, were still being housed in hotels or similar accommodation.[12]




[1] Home Office, Asylum support, Section 4 policy and support, available at: http://bit.ly/1Ht8SBE.

[2] Home Office, Concessions to the Immigration Rules for Afghan nationals for work and study routes, January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3AkoCua.

[3] UK Government, ‘Apply to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Extension Scheme’, last updated 18 May 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3ExyGT1.

[4] Home Office, Nationality; disputed, unknown and other cases, October 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2F8ky2f

[5] UK government, ‘New global resettlement scheme for refugees announced’, June 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2IhUGoe.

[6] Home Office, immigration statistics.

[7] Secretary of State for the Home Department, ‘Statement to Parliament’, 22 March 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2DLo4QG.

[8] Secretary of State for the Home Department, ‘Resettlement: Written statement’, 3 July 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2DyHeMZ.

[9] Home Office, Community sponsorship, September 2022, available at: http://bit.ly/29VQxZI.

[10] Home Office, ‘Afghan Resettlement Programme: operational data, January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3VklW8Z.

[11] UK Visas and Immigration, ‘Guidance – Funding Instruction for local authorities in the support of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme and Afghan relocation and Assistance Policy’, last updated 10 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3EWcBz3.

[12] Home Office, ‘transparency data – Afghan Resettlement Programme: operational data’, 23 February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/427f1Dn.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection