Support for Asylum Seekers*

If you have applied for asylum and have nowhere to live, or have a place to live but not enough money to support you, you can apply for asylum support from the government.

The time to apply for support is when you have your first asylum interview or when the need arises once you have started the asylum process.

This support is provided by the Home Office and is granted while your asylum application is being considered. Dependants (such as children or partners) can be included in the application.

There are different types of support that people can access depending on the stage of the process. There is temporary support (section 98), support whilst awaiting a decision (section 95) and support if the asylum application is rejected (section 4).

In all cases, in order to receive support, people must prove that they are “destitute”. A person is considered to be destitute if they do not have adequate accommodation or the means to obtain it, or if they have accommodation and cannot meet their basic needs outside of this.

Section 98 support is intended to be temporary, emergency support for those who have applied for asylum and are waiting for section 95 support. What is normally provided is “initial accommodation” in a hostel or hotel of the Home Office’s choice, and it may be accompanied by cash support.

Once section 98 support has been obtained, the person will be granted section 95 support. This means that, if necessary, they will be moved to new accommodation (a flat or a shared house). The accommodation is likely to be elsewhere in the country and unfortunately you cannot choose where in the UK.

In most cases Section 95 support includes accommodation and/or allowance of £47 per week. The money is received through a debit card called Aspen.

Section 95 support normally ends when the asylum claim has been refused and there is no longer an appeal pending. Once that happens people can apply for Section 4 support but in order to be granted it is necessary to show that they are taking the necessary steps to leave the UK.

A very common question is whether people have the right to work while their asylum application is in process. Immigration rules allow people to apply for permission to work if they have been waiting more than 12 months on their asylum application “through no fault of their own”. In any case where permission is granted, the person will only be allowed to work in one of the jobs on the list of occupations with staffing shortages.

*This article is the second in a series, the first having been published in July of 2023.

Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here.

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