Refugee Status and Humanitarian Protection
Refugee Status and Humanitarian Protection are forms of international protection given to someone who is accepted as being at risk of harm in their home country. Both will be considered at the same time and if one is accepted as being applicable, should be granted according to your specific circumstances. You cannot be granted both refugee status and humanitarian protection at the same time.
It is important to understand some key terms before exploring the area of international protection:
- Asylum seeker: An asylum seeker in the UK is someone who has made an application for asylum in the UK and is awaiting a decision on their application.
- Refugee Convention: This is international legislation that will be considered by the Home Office when they are deciding whether an applicant is eligible for refugee status. Only someone who meets the requirements of the Refugee Convention will be granted refugee status in the UK.
- Refugee status: A refugee is someone whose asylum claim has been accepted and is recognised as meeting the Refugee Convention. An asylum seeker will become a refugee if the Home Office grant them refugee status.
- Humanitarian protection: This is a form of leave to remain in the circumstances where someone does not meet the requirements of the Refugee Convention but still needs protection because they face a risk of serious harm in their home country.
Changes to asylum and humanitarian protection
On 28 June 2022, big changes to asylum and humanitarian protection were introduced through the Nationality and Borders Act. Individuals claiming asylum after this date will have their claims considered under a different system than those who claimed before this date.
Applications made before 28 June 2022 will be referred to as pre-Borders Act claims, whereas subsequent claims will be called post-Borders Act claims.
Eligibility for Asylum
To seek asylum in the UK and be granted refugee status, your asylum claim must fall within one or more risk categories (called Convention reasons) under the Refugee Convention. This means that someone must face a well-founded fear of treatment that amounts to persecution because of their:
- Membership of a particular social group
- Political belief
Additionally, you must be unable to obtain protection from the authorities of their country of nationality or country they fear persecution from, and you must be unable to relocate internally, for example, to a different city, to get away from the risk of harm.
What is Humanitarian Protection in the UK
In contrast, humanitarian protection is a type of leave to remain in the UK which is granted when the Home Office consider that you do not fall into the risk categories under the Refugee Convention and you are therefore not eligible for refugee status, but the Home Office deem that you would still face a real risk of suffering serious harm and you are unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality because of that risk.
An example of a situation where humanitarian protection may be granted is where you are fleeing a war zone for reasons of fearing indiscriminate violence, and the Home Office agree that returning you to that country would lead to a risk of serious harm. In this situation, there is no need for you to fall into a specific Convention reason to make you eligible for protection.
Immediate family members of individuals granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK may make applications to join their sponsor. Immediate family members must have formed part of the family unit prior to the sponsor fleeing the country and normally include partners, children under 18 years, and sometimes children over the age of 18. There are other provisions to enable other children related to a refugee to join a sponsor, subject to certain requirements. Family members who became part of the family unit post-flight (after the Sponsor left their home country to seek asylum in the UK), should apply under the family members routes under the Immigration Rules.