Types of application

Three pieces of international law can be used to support an asylum application in the UK.


  1. Under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, asylum seekers must show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their own country. The definition is forward-looking, so even if an asylum seeker has suffered terrible harm in the past, they will not get asylum if there is no risk of anything happening to them in the future. It is not always necessary to have been persecuted in the past for a future risk to exist – sometimes events that occur after a person’s arrival in the UK can give rise to a future risk of persecution in their own country (for example, due to changes of circumstances in the person’s country of origin since they left). These are known as ‘sur place’ claims.


  1. It is also possible for a person to apply to remain in the UK if removing them would be in breach of their rights laid down in the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is often called a human rights claim. The ECHR contains a number of ‘Articles’ of protected rights. Most human rights claims are based on Article 3 (prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) or Article 8 (right to respect for family life and private life). A human rights claim can be part of an asylum claim under the Refugee Convention, or it can stand alone.



  1. The UK is also party to the European Union Asylum Qualification Directive. This has been adopted by EU member states as part of the process of establishing a Common European Asylum System. All asylum or human rights claims must be considered in light of the provisions of the Qualification Directive. It is intended to ensure that common criteria for identifying people in need of international protection are applied, and that a minimum level of benefits is available for those granted status in EU member states.

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