Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

United Kingdom

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 24/04/24


Refugee Council Visit Website
Name Number of staff Ministry responsible Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?
Home Office Visas and Immigration (UKVI), Asylum Casework Directorate 2,405 Home Office No

Responsibility for the asylum process rests with the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who is a government minister (the Home Secretary). Within the Home Office, asylum decision-making is allocated to a department called UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and within this to the Asylum and Protection Directorate, with 2,405 staff in 2023.[1] The Home Office is responsible for all aspects of immigration and asylum: entry, in-country applications for leave to remain, monitoring compliance with immigration conditions, and enforcement including detention and removal.

Within the Home Office, entry is managed by Border Force[2], registration of asylum claims is done by the Asylum Intake Unit[3], the inadmissibility process is handled within the Third Country Unit[4], and the asylum decision making process is dealt with by Asylum Operations[5].

The operational guidance of the UKVI is available online. It includes inter alia asylum instructions on the decision-making process, on screening asylum seekers and routing them to regional asylum teams; as well as on asylum applications involving children or how to make decisions about detention of asylum seekers. Moreover, country of origin information (COI) reports are also made available online[6] and are frequently quoted by other countries’ authorities.[7]

Quality monitoring in the form of checks carried out by specially trained decision makers (referred to as ‘Second Pair of Eyes’ or SPOE) is carried out for certain kinds of decisions, for example where a medico-legal report is provided as supporting evidence.[8] This process was previously in place in relation to claims that are certified as bound to fail under section 94 of the NIAA 2002, but these checks were stopped in April 2023.[9] There is no public data on how many decisions are overturned at the SPOE stage.



[1] UK Government, Statistics relating to the Illegal Migration Act: data tables to December 2023, last updated 2 January 2024, available at:, table IMB_06.

[2] Border Force, ‘About us’, accessed 24 March 2024, available at:

[3] UK government, ‘Asylum intake unit’, accessed 24 March 2024, available at:

[4] Home Office, Inadmissibility – third country cases: caseworker guidance, 14 February 2024, available at:

[5] Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, Inspection of asylum casework (August 2020 – May 2021), 18 November 2021, available at:

[6] Home Office, Country policy and information notes, 19 March 2024, available at:  

[7] Practice based observation by the expert, January 2024.

[8] Home Office, Medical evidence in asylum claims version 2, 26 August 2022, available at:

[9] Immigration Minister, Reforms to the Process of Certifying Claims as Clearly Unfounded statement UIN HCWS716, 17 April 2023, available at:

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