The criteria for refugee status are set out in the UN 1951 Refugee Convention. Under Article 1(A)2, the term “refugee” applies to any person who:
“...owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
Refugees are defined by three basic characteristics:
- they are outside their country of origin or outside the country of their former habitual residence;
they are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted; and
the persecution feared is based on at least one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
A refugee has the same rights as any other citizen, apart from the right to vote.
The term “asylum seeker” refers to a person who has applied for asylum, but whose refugee status has yet to be determined.
Until an asylum claim is determined, an asylum seeker in the UK has limited or restricted rights.
- Where an asylum claim is proven the person is granted refugee status.
- Where an asylum claim is refused, the “refused asylum seeker” has no leave to remain in the UK.
- Under certain circumstances an asylum seeker may be granted leave to remain on humanitarian grounds
An unaccompanied child seeking asylum in the UK (under the age of 18) is supported by the State.
Some asylum seekers are dispersed within the UK whilst their claim is being processed. To find out how this is arranged in St.Helens visit our Asylum Seeker Dispersal Arrangements page.
NB A person seeking asylum is different to an economic migrant, the latter is a foreign national who has permission to work in the UK.
NB A person seeking asylum is not an illegal immigrant, the latter has no right to be in the UK