Once you have made a claim for asylum, you may require help with housing and financial support while you wait for a decision to be made.
Instead of claiming general UK benefits, such as universal credit, child benefit and housing benefits, you may be eligible for asylum support.
What is asylum support?
The purpose of asylum support is to help asylum seekers while their claim for asylum is processed. You may be eligible for asylum support if you are an asylum seeker who is homeless or who cannot afford to buy food.
The support offered falls into six main categories:
- Financial support
- Support for mothers and young children
- Maternity payment
If you are in need of somewhere to live in the UK while your application for asylum is processed, you will be provided with accommodation (e.g. house, hostel, flat, bed and breakfast).
You won’t be able to choose where in the UK you live, and asylum seeker accommodation is rarely offered in London or the south east of London.
Asylum seekers will be paid £37.75 per person in your household, to cover food, clothing and other necessary supplies.
This amount will be paid onto a debit card called an ASPEN card on a weekly basis. You can use your ASPEN card to withdraw cash from a cash machine.
Support for mothers and young children
Extra money to buy healthy food is available for pregnant asylum seekers and for young children under 3 years old. Pregnant asylum seekers will receive an extra £3.00 each week.
If a mother has a baby under 1, she will receive an extra weekly payment of £5.00 and for a child aged between 1 and 3 years old, the weekly payment will be £3.00.
You may apply for a one-off maternity payment of £300 in the following situations:
- your baby is due to be born in 8 weeks or sooner,
- or your baby is under 6 weeks old.
Ask your doctor for form MAT B1 to claim for your maternity payment. This can be submitted at the same time as your claim for asylum support or at a later date.
If you become pregnant after making your application for asylum, contact the support team wo are dealing with your asylum support claim.
The healthcare provision available to you through the National Health Service (NHS) includes:
- access to a doctor
- hospital treatment
- free medicine prescriptions
- free dental care for your teeth
- free eyesight tests
- financial assistance towards buying glasses
In the UK, children aged between 5 and 17 years of age must attend school. State schools provide education free of charge and free school meals may also be available for your children. You must ensure that your children aged between 5 and 17 attend school during your time in this country.
How to apply for asylum support
Send a completed form ASF1 to the asylum support casework team or fill out the form online.
The form will ask questions on why you require asylum support, when you arrived in the UK, your dependants, whether you are working now or have worked in the past in the UK since claiming asylum, and personal details such as address and date of birth.
Helplines for asylum seekers
For asylums seekers who have just arrived in the UK and need help with the asylum process and life in the UK, there are three asylum helplines you can contact for advice.
These helplines can provide advice on issues such as housing, asylum support, and education. They can also be used if you face discrimination, have been the victim of a crime, or feel in danger here in the UK.
These helplines are:
- Asylum Help UK, telephone 0808 8000 630, Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 5.30 pm – providing advice to adult asylum seekers and their dependants
- Asylum Support Application UK, telephone 0808 8000 631, Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 5.30 pm – for asylum seekers who wish to apply for asylum support
- Children’s Panel (only available in England), telephone 020 7346 1134, Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.30pm – providing advice to child asylum seekers in the UK on their own
Can asylum seekers work or study in the UK?
Generally, asylum seekers will not be permitted to work in the UK while their application for asylum is processed, unless you were already working in the UK under some other form of permission, for instance, a temporary work visa. Once that permission runs out, you will not be permitted to work in the UK.
The only other exception is where your application for asylum has been outstanding for more than 12 months. In this instance, it may be possible to request permission to work.
Child asylum seekers between 5 and 17 years of age must attend school while in the UK.
In 2018, changes were made to UK legislation regarding immigration bail constraints on whether asylum seekers could study in this country. These changes state that asylum seekers with an application for asylum currently being processed may study in the UK.
In this context, the definition of ‘study’ is primary and secondary school education for children up to 18 years of age, and courses resulting in a qualification for adult students, including English language courses.
What happens to your asylum support if asylum is denied?
For refused asylum seekers who are single and have no dependants under 18 years old, asylum support will stop within 21 days of the decision to deny asylum or the unsuccessful conclusion of any appeals to that decision.
Where a refused asylum seeker has children who were born before the decision to deny asylum was reached, that asylum seeker and their dependants will continue to hold the status of asylum seeker, and hence continue to receive support, until the youngest child reaches 18 years of age or the asylum seekers leave the UK.
If your claim for asylum is unsuccessful and there is no reason that you should be allowed to remain in the UK, you may be eligible for Section 4 support.
If you are eligible, you will be provided with somewhere to live until you leave the UK. You will receive a weekly payment of £35.39 per person on an ASPEN card as long as you accept the offer of accommodation.
The payments to pregnant women and for children under 3 years old will remain the same as are generally available under asylum support.
There is a clothing allowance available for children under 16 years old of £5.00 per week.
Pregnant refused asylum seekers may apply for a maternity payment of £250 if your baby is due to be born in 8 weeks or sooner, or if you have a baby who is younger than 6 weeks old. This is a one-off payment.
Finally, under Section 4, refused asylum supporters are entitled to free healthcare.
This support is offered under the assumption that a refused asylum seeker is doing their best to leave the UK.
What happens to refused asylum seekers who are too ill to leave the UK?
If a refused asylum seeker is to ill to leave the UK, then providing you can provide satisfactory medical evidence of your ill-health, be that physical ill-health or in relation to their mental health, you may qualify for asylum support.
Refused asylum seekers who are pregnant or have young babies
If as a refused asylum seeker, you are in the final six weeks of your pregnancy, or you have a baby who is younger than six weeks, you will generally be able to remain in the UK and receive asylum support.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.