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Path to UK asylum far from assured

Most requests for asylum status in the United Kingdom are rejected due to a strict and complicated screening and placement system, with only 28 per cent of all requests approved last year, according to experts familiar with the process in that country.
According to the UK-based Refugee Council charity, 12,688 asylum applications were made to the British Government from January to August this year.

During that period, 10,836 decisions were finalized with 3,731 approvals for refugee status, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave and other grants. The rest, or 7,105 requests, were refused.

Fugitive ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra has reportedly sought political asylum in the UK after having fled from Thailand just prior to being convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for neglecting to properly oversee her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme.

Thanakrit Worathanatchakul, provincial attorney at the Office of the Attorney General, explained that the UK Home Office usually takes around six months to consider an asylum seeker’s request, but the time can vary due to each case’s complexity.

Asylum seekers to the UK must be able to show that they cannot return to their countries because of fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality or political opinions.

They may also present that they are at risk of being persecuted because of situations related to social, cultural, religious or political factors.

A request can be made immediately upon arrival in the UK. The claimant would meet with officers for interviews and document checking. The seekers must also show proof of where they are going to stay in the UK. They may be accompanied by lawyers during the interviews.

Asylum seekers can include their spouses and children aged up to 18 in their requests, if they are present with the seekers at the time of the request. Otherwise, they can make separate requests of their own.

The British Government does not consider requests from European Union citizens or from others who have already made asylum requests to other EU countries.

If granted approval, seekers can stay in the UK for five years. If they still fear persecution in their home country after that period, they may apply for residency in the UK.

They may also be granted humanitarian protection instead of asylum, which will also permit them a five-year stay in the UK.

Asylum seekers may appeal to the British courts if their requests are rejected by the UK Home Office.

The Nation

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