Is it ever possible for refugees and asylum seekers to establish a family life in the UK?

Refugees and a Family Life 

A simple answer to this question is that it is extremely unlikely that a refugee or asylum seeker will establish a sufficient ‘family life’ in the UK to engage their Article 8 rights in the event that asylum status is denied. This is unless the refugee or asylum seeker in question has arrived with their family.

If a person is granted asylum can their family join them in the UK?

After 30 August 2005, any person who has been granted humanitarian process or refugee status has the right to be joined by a partner and any children who they had left behind in their home country. The person does not have this right when their asylum application is being processed or going through the tribunal appeal stage. Not only does the Home Office often take months, if not years to issue a Notice of Immigration Decision (in most cases refusal) but an individual could then wait months or years further in a state of uncertainty whilst their appeal if heard, possibly adjourned and then finally they receive the Immigration Judge’s determination.

How long can the asylum process take?

The Home Office has targets to decide asylum claims quickly which is, of course, in their own interest particularly when in 2006, for instance, only 10 per cent of initial decisions resulted in asylum being granted and an extra 9 per cent in other forms of leave being granted. The Immigration & Asylum Chamber has current targets to get a determination written for asylum cases within six weeks of receiving the Notice of Appeal forms. This increases to eight to ten weeks for in country appeals, out of country and visit visa appeals. However, the appellant themselves may not receive the decision until two/ three and sometimes up to six/eight weeks after the appeal hearing. If the appeal fails then the appellant will not be immediately removed; they will have waived their rights to financial help for voluntarily returning home by continuing with the appeal process. So, they might be not only unwilling but also unable to return home and they may continue to remain in the UK illegally unless the authorities find and arrest them.

Is life put on hold for asylum seekers?

Many asylum seekers spend years of their lives (for instance, their 20s) living in an uncertain state in the UK and this results in long lasting issues as this is often the time when people make serious relationships and have children.

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For more information on:

  • What does a person with refugee status or humanitarian protection have to show if he/she wants their family to join them? Does the family have to claim asylum?
  • What happens to the refugee’s family after the five years’ leave that the refugee is given in the UK?