Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

United Kingdom

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 14/03/22


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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 The only one in the last ten years was in relation to Zimbabwe, but this is no longer in force.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; although the current guidance states that the concession ends on 29 February 2020 and no new concession has been published at the time of writing.[2]


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. Currently there is a country guidance case which says that, due to the high levels of repression in Syria, any forced returnee from the UK including refused asylum seekers would face a real risk of arrest and detention and of serious mistreatment during that detention.[3] This does not result in a proactive grant of status from the asylum authorities but can be relied on by asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers in making representations to the Home Office.


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 2020 were:


Appeal success rates for key nationalities: 2020
Country of origin Successful appeals Success rate
Turkey 43 61%
Eritrea 35 59%
Albania 128 50%
Afghanistan 99 41%
Iran 171 48%


Source: Home Office.


In 2020, there were 422 grants of refugee status to Syrians, and the overall refugee status rate was 95%. Those rejected would normally have a right of appeal, unless the refusal was on the basis that another Dublin state has responsibility for the claim. 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. By the end of 2020, 19,776 of these had arrived in the UK. 823 resettled refuges came to the UK in 2020.


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] The resumption of resettlement arrivals, suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has not yet been announced.


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.[6] 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. [7]


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.[8]


The government has also committed to resettling an additional 3,000 individuals under a ‘children at risk’ programme. In partnership with UNHCR, the UK will bring 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. By the end of December 2020, 1,826 individuals had been resettled under this programme.



[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 Syrian Nationals, available at: https://bit.ly/39C5Hww.

[3]        Upper Tribunal, KB (Syria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKUT 00426.

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

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

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

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

[8]        Home Office, Community sponsorship, 19 July 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/29VQxZI.

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