The Immigration Rules provide that asylum applicants should be informed ‘in a language they may reasonably be supposed to understand and within a reasonable time after their claim for asylum has been recorded of the procedure to be followed, their rights and obligations during the procedure, and the possible consequences of non-compliance and non-co-operation. They shall be informed of the likely timeframe for consideration of the application and the means at their disposal for submitting all relevant information’.
Further, they shall be informed in writing and in a language they may reasonably be supposed to understand ‘within a reasonable time not exceeding fifteen days after their claim for asylum has been recorded of the benefits and services that they may be eligible to receive and of the rules and procedures with which they must comply relating to them.’
The Home Office is also required to provide information on non-governmental organisations and persons that provide legal assistance to asylum applicants and which may be able to help or provide information on available benefits and services. The charity Migrant Help provides a service, under a contract with the Home Office. This contract was renewed in January 2019, initially for four years but with a possible extension for a total of ten.
Information on the asylum process is given in the initial accommodation centres, both in person and by video presentation. Information is also available about the asylum process on the Migrant Help website. One to one appointments are offered in initial accommodation centres, and at some outreach locations, at which applications for support can be made, and asylum seekers can make appointments with legal representatives. However, these are limited.
At the AIU a Point of Claim leaflet is provided, which explains the next steps if the case is put into the regular procedure, and what it means to be granted or refused asylum. Unaccompanied children are also given a leaflet about the Refugee Council Children’s Advice Service and a specific Point of Claim leaflet aimed at children is still being developed by the Home Office, in consultation with NGOs. A letter prior to the screening appointment also gives information and the Home Office website explains what documents the asylum seeker needs to bring to the screening interview, and rights and responsibilities throughout the asylum process in English only.
A notice giving the contact details of the AIU and the requirement to claim there for a person already in the UK is linked to the Home Office’s website in 15 languages.
There is no provision in the rules for information to be given at later stages. Asylum seekers were not systematically informed about the Dublin procedure and its implications until they were detained for transfer to the responsible EU Member State or Schengen Associated State. It is unclear what information will be provided to applicants regarding the inadmissibility policy, until they are informed they may be treated as inadmissible, through the ‘notice of intent’.
Para 357A Immigration Rules Part 11B.
Para 358 Immigration Rules Part 11B.
Migrant Help advice and guidance, see: https://bit.ly/2GaXCC2.