The “first country of asylum” concept is defined as a country where an applicant: either (a) has been recognised as a refugee and may still enjoy that protection; or (b) otherwise enjoys sufficient protection including protection from refoulement. In both cases, the applicant must be able to be readmitted to that country.
The policy in force during 2020 (The October 2019 Home Office policy) states that ‘if the individual has not been granted protection, they may nonetheless be removable to the country if it has an organised and functioning asylum system, if it could be expected to make a valid decision regarding protection status in reasonable timescales, and if it applies the principle of non-refoulement.’ This principle still exists in the new rules and guidance i.e. it must be reasonably expected that a claim for protection can be made and decided upon.
Para 345B Immigration Rules Part 11.
Home Office, Inadmissibility; Safe Third Country cases December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ccbSM9.