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Young asylum seekers

If you are under 18 and travelled to the UK without your parents to seek asylum, children’s social care services will be responsible for you until you reach your 18th birthday.

If you stay in the UK after you reach 18, and depending on your immigration status, you may be able to get help with money for your basic living and housing needs from the Benefits Agency.

Your social worker or Personal Advisor will explain any changes that will effect you and will help you fill out any  forms.

The top ten entitlements for young asylum seekers like you are listed below:

1. An assessment

You have a right to an assessment of your needs, as a “child in need” under the Children Act 1989. You have this right regardless of what your immigration status might be.

The assessment should take into account your culture and respect this. If you do not have any documents to prove how old you are, an assessment may be needed to decide your age. This should be fair, understandable and listen to your views.

2. Accommodation

You are entitled to be provided with accommodation by the local authority if you are a child who has: arrived in the UK alone

  • become separated from your parents/carers
  • there is no one to care for you
  • you have nowhere to live

This accommodation should be appropriate to your wishes and needs.

3. Care and services

If you are ‘accommodated’ whilst seeking asylum, you are entitled to the same care and services as other looked after children.

As well as somewhere to live, this should include help with:

  • money
  • advice
  • planning for the future
  • other support

Entitlement to services and support should also continue when you are ready to leave care and when you turn 18.

4. Education

You are entitled to receive free education up to the age of 16. If you are 16 years of age or older, you can apply for further education or higher education courses, providing you have the necessary qualifications to do the course.

You may or may not be charged fees – if you are you may be able to get some help to pay these.

5. Health care

You are are entitled to receive free National Health Service (NHS) services, and should be registered with a doctor (a GP). You are also entitled to free prescriptions up to the age of 16; or to 19 if in full-time education.

6. Right to seek work

If you have permission to stay in the UK including:

  • refugee status
  • discretionary leave to remain
  • humanitarian protection
  • indefinite leave to remain

you have permission to work once you are 16 years old.

If your asylum application is still pending, you cannot work.

7. Legal representation

If you are seeking asylum in the UK you are entitled to free legal advice and representation to help you put forward a fair claim for asylum.

8. Right to be heard and understood

Whenever you meet with your legal representative, or your social worker (or others) you are entitled to be provided with an interpreter, who you trust and are happy with, so that you can fully understand what is being said and give your view.

9. Right to appeal

You may have the right to appeal refusal of your asylum application. You should ask your own legal adviser about this.

10. Knowing about the asylum system

You have a right to be told, and given information telling you, about how the asylum application and appeals process works; the role of your legal representative; and the progress of your asylum claim.

In all cases, arrangements for returning to your country of origin must be safe and appropriate. This means there:

  • is no reason to believe that the your safety or that of your family will be in danger
  • is suitable care is in place for the you returning, whether within or outside the family
  • are support services are available, making returning in your best interests