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What does it mean to be seeking asylum?

Asylum seekers are people who flee their home country, often due to major conflicts or because of human rights abuses, and who seek refuge in another country by making an application for asylum.

I’m separated from my family; I am making an asylum application and want to know my rights.

If you are a child who has been separated from your parents or carers during your journey into the UK and have applied for asylum, you will be described as an ‘unaccompanied asylum-seeking child’, or ‘UASC’.

The Home Office will be responsible for making the initial decisions on your asylum application when you have submitted one with the help of an immigration representative (either a solicitor, or an officer from the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner – ‘OISC’) after children’s services have linked you with one.

Children’s services will be responsible for your care until you turn 18 and then will continue to have duties to support you until you are 25.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, you can contact Help at Hand.

I arrived in the UK a year ago. I have had one interview, but I still have not had my second one. What do I do?

When you are applying for asylum, you will undergo a Welfare Interview and a series of checks. You will have your photo and fingerprints taken, taken unless you are under five years of age.

You do not have to have a responsible adult with you during this interview, but it is best to have one present. You can ask for this to be your social worker. A solicitor can also attend the welfare interview.

After you have met with your solicitor and together you complete the Statement of Evidence Form, you should then receive the second, ‘substantive’ interview.

It is important for you to know that a legal representative (a solicitor or an OISC officer) will be funded to attend your interviews with you. Your lawyer should be informed of the date of your substantive interview by the Home Office.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, you can contact Help at Hand.

I was born in this country. Am I automatically British?

Being born in the UK does not give you an automatic right to British citizenship. To be able to register for British Citizenship as a child, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Either you are a child born in the UK whose parent or parents become British or settled (this must be applied for before you turn 18); or
  • You are a child born in the UK and have lived in the UK continuously until the age of 10, or have not been outside the country for more than 90 days at once.

If in doubt you can either contact Help at Hand or go to the Migrant Children’s Project to get more details.

I’m in care or a care leaver and my ‘leave to remain’ is due to run out. What should I do?

You will need to apply for renewal of your leave. If you do not have access to funds to pay for this, children’s services should fund your application.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, you can contact Help at Hand.

I am a care leaver and I do not have leave to remain in the UK.

If you no longer have leave to remain in the UK and you are a child (under 18), children’s services will continue to support you.

If you are a care leaver under the age of 21 and you do not have leave to remain, but you have an application for leave pending, then children’s services will support you until your application is decided. If you are over 21, you will receive support from the National Asylum Support Service.

If you are a care leaver but you do not have leave to remain and have no further applications to make, then children’s services may no longer be required to support you. You should continue to get support from National Asylum Support Service

If you have a concern about this, please contact Help at Hand.

I am a care leaver and I am not British citizen.

You are entitled to the same support from children’s services as all other care leavers. If your immigration status means you are not eligible for benefits, children’s services should help to support you.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, you can contact Help at Hand.

Help at Hand is the Children’s Commissioner’s advice and assistance service for children in care, children who have a social worker or are working with social services, children living away from home and care leavers.

Children, young people, or their advocates can get in touch with Help at Hand for free by phone, website or email. 

Phone us free on

0800 528 0731

email us or send us a message via our online form

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Before you decide to contact us, you might find the answer to your question is already here in our most frequently asked questions. Pick the option that applies to you for more information.

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