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Asylum Seekers and Permission to Work in the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 23 Jun 2020 | comments*Discuss
Asylum Seeker Uk Employment Supreme

Asylum seekers are generally not permitted to work in the UK whilst their claim for asylum is processed. UK asylum seekers may be entitled to receive financial support and be homed while their application is being considered. This entitlement usually applies to those asylum seekers who have no means of supporting themselves financially and would otherwise be rendered destitute if not given financial assistance by the state. Asylum seekers may also receive free medical treatment from the NHS whilst awaiting the outcome of their application.

Should Asylum Seekers be Allowed to Work?

Some people have argued that preventing asylum seekers from working is counter-productive and unreasonable. The rule places an additional financial burden on public resources which are already stretched. Asylum-seekers, who may be qualified to carry out useful employment, are prevented from providing for themselves and for any dependents who may be with them in the UK.

European Law and the “Reception Directive” on Asylum Seekers

Under a European law relating to asylum – known as the “Reception Directive” - asylum seekers can expect a certain level of treatment whilst their application is being considered. The law states that asylum seekers are entitled to have a “dignified standard of living” whilst their application is processed.

In accordance with the Reception Directive, the UK’s immigration rules state that an asylum seeker whose application has not been concluded within one year is entitled to receive permission to work in the UK whilst their application is being considered. This entitlement will not apply if the asylum seeker contributed to the delay in their application being processed and the permission only covers the period until their application is finally determined.

The UK Supreme Court Case on Asylum Seekers Working in the UK

A July 2010 ruling by the UK’s Supreme Court has, partly, qualified the rule which prevents asylum seekers from working whilst their application is being considered.

The case related to two asylum seekers who had previously had their application for asylum turned down by the UK’s Secretary of State for the Home Department. Both asylum seekers had appealed the refusal of their application for asylum and those appeals had also been unsuccessful. They had subsequently both made renewed applications for asylum. It was argued that these latest applications essentially represented a new and separate claim for asylum. When these applications had not been finally decided after one year the asylum seekers had applied for permission to work in the UK until these latest claims were concluded.

The Supreme Court case centred upon the question of whether an applicant making a second, or subsequent, application for asylum should be defined as an asylum seeker who was entitled to protection under the Reception Directive. The legal representatives for the UK government had argued that claimants making further applications did not necessarily come within this definition.

The UK’s immigration rules had said that an applicant making a subsequent claim for asylum was not entitled to be treated as an asylum seeker unless the Secretary of State had declared that their new application amounted to a “fresh claim” for asylum. The representatives for the applicants argued that they became asylum seekers – and entitled to protection under the European law – when they made their subsequent application and not when the Secretary of State decided whether it amounted to a fresh claim.

The Effect of the Supreme Court Decision on the UK’s Immigration Rules

The Supreme Court decided that there was nothing in the European law which prevented an applicant making a subsequent application for asylum from being treated as an asylum seeker. Consequently the claimants were entitled to receive permission to work until their new claims had been concluded.

This decision has forced a change in the UK’s immigration rules. However, the immigration authorities do not expect this change to have a long term impact on the entitlement of asylum seekers to work while their claim is being decided. They say that the change will only apply to asylum seekers who made their first claim for asylum in the UK prior to March 2007 and who have already made a second or subsequent claim for asylum which had not yet been finally determined.

Asylum seekers who do come within this exception will only be allowed to take up employment in a job which is included on the UK Border Agency’s list of “shortage occupations”. Further, asylum seekers are not allowed to undertake self-employed work or to start their own business.

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[Add a Comment]
Hello dear I am in further submissions from 30/09/2019 still am waiting and plus they told me they will send me alater and than I have to go to post office to have a finger print and pictures but until now I didn’t receive anything from them I don’t know what to doplus right now I have national insurance number but I need work permission to start work Best regards Rami
Adam - 23-Jun-20 @ 2:53 AM
Hi I done my asylum interview in December 2019it’s nearly 6 months I didn’t got any answer from home office anyone knows how long it’s take more
Shinwari - 26-May-20 @ 10:29 PM
I am asylum seeker I want to do work permission. I am leaving in this country since 2006.how can apply work permit please This is morethen 6 months i am waiting for my futher submission decision thanks Best regards
Arab - 21-May-20 @ 5:00 AM
Hi i am asylum seekers i want to work and want to get work permitt thanks
Arab - 21-May-20 @ 4:53 AM
I am asylum seeker I want to do work permission. I am leaving in this country since 5yrs pls help me .how can apply work permit pls let me know
Hyder - 8-May-20 @ 11:01 PM
I am asylum seeker I want to do work permission. I am leaving in this country since 5yrs
Hyder - 8-May-20 @ 10:57 PM
hiam ayslum seeker ihave claim in novermber 2019 and i got marriagein decmber 2019 my wife is studentshe got visa now she on dependent on me but have no permssion to work what i docan help me
singh - 6-May-20 @ 2:46 PM
I am in UK more than 10 year I apply Asylum one year a go and I have 3 year's old daughter she's British she's living with mom I want to sprout my daughter am I able permission to work my Asylum case is still pending i am waiting for more than year now
Shah - 2-Apr-20 @ 7:12 PM
I have three children the all have British passport I been waiting for my first interview 3 years and I amnot receiving my Soliceter many Time apply for interview and the not Unswer what can I do
Kurdish - 18-Mar-20 @ 8:53 PM
I am asylum seeker in 5 yers and I AM looking for the work permit.pls give information how to make it ??? Thx
Eranga - 15-Mar-20 @ 6:43 PM
If your case have been with the home office for 12month and they have not given you a decision . Then you can apply for a work permit(shortage occupation)
Fa - 9-Feb-20 @ 2:36 AM
Hi dear I apply for asylum in 14/02/19 I had done my interview in December 2019 I’m still waiting for result. My question is if I got refuse from home office can I apply forwork permit
Shinwari - 1-Feb-20 @ 9:20 PM
Hi iam asylum seeker . I waiting my decision for more than year. How can I apply for permit to work . Let me know thanks
Lahm - 28-Jan-20 @ 12:28 AM
I applied for asylum in December 2018. It has been 1 year I am waiting for the decision. How can I apply for work permit. Please let me know.
Rubel - 12-Dec-19 @ 2:27 AM
Hi how are you. I’m seekers I waiting my case nearly 5 years.now last 2018 I got work Permite two years and I worked Wherehouse 22 months.next month my Permite expire and I worry at the moment I left job...can I renew my work permit again my case still painting thanks
Red - 5-Dec-19 @ 9:19 AM
I read this article. I think all cases is different so we can not decide instead Home Office and immigration. although I have got lots of problems and I am in very hard situation,hope is just one think I can do. when I ran from a country I born , I lost every things but now at least I can speak English and this a good point for me. Also I am living in the good country with very smart people (in my opinion). I found some friends and I am alive. I can listening to birds song. permission to work,Visa,car,house,children,housband ,wife or wives?? are important but WE SHOUD NOT FORGET LIFE IS NOT EASY AND SAME FOR EVERY ONE BECAUSE WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER.
rs - 15-Jul-19 @ 4:12 AM
Please how is it possible to get a work permit as an asylum seeker because I see some people get it it.
Teetee - 29-Mar-19 @ 5:23 PM
I am asylum seekers and I want to get work permits Thanks Best Regards Ahmed
Ahmed - 25-Mar-19 @ 1:13 AM
@Bak - Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in majority of cases.
TJ. - 23-Feb-19 @ 9:10 PM
I am asylum seeker and I am looking for the work permit. Please give me information how to make it??? Thanks
Bak - 23-Feb-19 @ 11:02 AM
Hi there just want share my updates with you guys asylum seekers can work in some cases which decide HO I got right to work from day1 and I also seen few people who got permission to work from start .
Junaid - 23-Dec-18 @ 3:23 AM
Hi my name Phillip I have been in UK since 2003 I applied for asylum at port of entry in Dover port my asylum was refused after a year, in 2012l apply for legacy case it was also turn down by HO,in 2014 i also apply for family life in UK itwas also refused, in 2016 I also applied as a stateless person because of where I was born and grow up in different countries it was also refused in 2017 , Now i make a further submission to the HO about my present family life, a wife and two children and my wife has a settlement statues in UK, since June I made the application and I have not heard anything from the HO. my question now is how can I apply for a working permit because I just read through this article and I think I fall in this category, please someone help me out.
Micah - 27-Nov-18 @ 5:56 PM
Hi my name is jabar faraj i have been in the uk for more than 9 years , i still waiting till get permission to work like every body else and help my self .is that no possible get work permit it this time .i think by law if any asylum seekers been uk more than 6 months or moreright to apply for work permit.please help me how to apply for it, again thanks for your time to read my email .i look forward to hearing from you
Kam - 11-Aug-18 @ 10:17 PM
@Gulsima - A EU travel document for an asylum seeker is not an EU passport.
TJ. - 18-Jun-18 @ 6:39 PM
Hi,my friend of mine applied to an asylum to a EuropeansUnion Country.He has been given a passport of the country he has asylum.Is he allow to live and work in England?Can he also apply his family to join him in England.What are the rules?How can his family can join him. What is procedure?
Gulsima - 18-Jun-18 @ 4:26 PM
I claim asylum September 2016,my first interview January 2017 Then further interview Feb uary 2017 Then in March 2017 had another further one Since then have been waiting for decision but nothing yet Am on Nass support but for now have been waiting for more than a year now without any decision Please what can i do Thanks Can't do anything Can't go to college Can't do even volunteer job Just useless
M - 10-Jun-18 @ 11:40 PM
@Rahman - Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK.
TJ. - 6-Jun-18 @ 11:18 AM
I am asylum seeker and I looking for the work permits I waiting for your answer Thank you
Rahman - 5-Jun-18 @ 8:00 PM
I am asylum seeker and I want work allowed
Rahman - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:58 PM
hi, since jan2017 i've lived in Uk as asylum seeker, recently i was rejected at court and now i'm on next appeal stage, i just wanna know can i apply for a job and if yes how.... thank you
simi - 11-May-18 @ 12:47 AM
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