Immigration and asylum
Asylum is protection given by a country to someone (a refugee) who is fleeing persecution in their own country. It is given under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prevents the UK government from sending anyone to a country where there is a real risk that they will be tortured, persecuted or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
Anyone in the UK has the right to seek asylum and government has a duty not to forcibly return you to a country where you have a genuine fear of being persecuted.
The right to seek asylum can never be limited. This does not mean it will always be granted.
How can I apply for Asylum?
The UK Border Agency is the government agency responsible for granting asylum to refugees. Applying for asylum is complex. You should seek specialist advice from one of the agencies below.
To be recognised as a refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you have a well-founded fear of persecution. This can be because of your race; religion; nationality; political opinion; or membership of a particular social group.
The UK Border Agency may give you temporary permission to stay in the UK if there are humanitarian reasons, even if you do not qualify for recognition as a refugee.
Is there a human right to immigrate?
The right to seek asylum is separate to immigration. There is no human right to immigration, so governments can restrict and impose limits on migration, as long as it is fair and non-discriminatory.
I am not a citizen of Northern Ireland, do I still have human rights here?
Yes human rights apply to all human beings - they do not depend on citizenship.
Organisations who can provide advice include:
NI Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM)
(028) 9023 8645 / (028) 90319666
Belfast Migrant Centre
NI Community of Refugees & Asylum Seekers
(028) 9024 6699
The Law Centre (NI)
Advice line 9.30am - 1pm
(028) 9024 4401 or (028) 7126 2433
*The Law Centre is currently unable to offer immigration advice due to funding restrictions, except in the area of human trafficking. However, advice can be offered in immigration related issues of benefits, employment rights, access to health and social care services.*
Citizens Advice Centre
Find your local advice centre:
Advice Guide Online
UK Border Agency
Tel: 0870 606 7766 or (028) 9019 1000
Textphone: 0800 389 8289
More contact details and how to make an appointment (http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/contactspage/contactcentres/)
Solicitors in private practice
In addition, the Law Society solicitors database provides access to the contact details of firms and solicitors in the major cities, towns and villages in Northern Ireland.