Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

United Kingdom Pro Bono Directory

Click here  to see the numbers and origins of refugees hosted by the United Kingdom. 

To be legally recognised as a refugee (this is called Refugee Status Determination), a person must satisfy the definition provided in the 1951 Refugee Convention.  

Decisions on asylum claims made in the UK are made by  UK Visas and Immigration, which is an agency of the Home Office (a UK Government Department). 

An applicant wanting to claim asylum in the UK must register and have a screening at an asylum intake unit. Contact details for the asylum intake unit.
It is not legally possible to apply for asylum from outside the UK.

Information about how to claim asylum in the UK:
Government - How to Claim
Right to remain toolkit
Free Movement - How to Claim

An immigration solicitor or caseworker may be needed to provide legal assistance. They must be registered with OISC before being able to give advice.  Check here if registered with OISC .
There are two ways of accessing immigration and asylum representation:
1) Private solicitors at regulated law firms. They will charge fees.
2) Legal aid schemes with solicitors working pro bono. Also, organisations/charities offering free legal advice may be able to assist

Legal aid is available for legal advice to anyone living in the UK or abroad who qualifies financially.
Find out if eligible for legal aid:

Asylum seekers in the United Kingdom can search for a legal aid solicitor on the Law Society’s website

*For Afghans seeking relocation assistance to the UK

The UK recently set up the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, ARAP. Under this new scheme, any current or former Locally Employed Staff directly employed by HMG assessed to be at serious risk of threat to life will be eligible to apply for ARAP regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served. If any current or former staff believe they now qualify or are at serious risk, they should apply by using the online form. You will be eligible to apply from any country (including Afghanistan). 

Additional information for Afghans related to resettlement to the UK is available on the UNHCR UK Information and links to Afghanistan Situation page and through this site with more specific details to be made available - UK Gov Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme.

Other helpful resources include:

Below is a list of pro bono organisations that support refugees in the UK and provide them legal aid.

NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

https://www.jcwi.org.uk  
Irregular Migrants Helpline:  020 7553 7470 (Mon, Tues and Thurs 10am-1pm.)
Email: infoatjcwi [dot] org [dot] uk

Supporting vulnerable individuals and families with reliable, high-quality legal advice. Assisting with all areas of asylum and immigration law and are recognised as experts in this field. 

Law Centres Network

https://www.lawcentres.org.uk/  
Find your local law centre contact details  here .
Law Centres offer free legal advice, casework and representation to individuals and groups on immigration, asylum and EUSS issues. 

Migrant Help

https://www.migranthelpuk.org/
Facebook | Twitter
Asylum helpline: 0808 8010 503 - that is free, open 24/7/365 and accessible to all asylum seekers in the UK.
Webchat
Email: infoatmigranthelpuk [dot] org

Migrant Help provides independent advice and guidance to assist asylum seekers in the UK move through and understand the asylum process.
We can advise you in your language on issues such as:

  • How to claim asylum
  • Navigating the asylum process
  • Applying for asylum support including accommodation
  • Notifying the Home Office if your circumstances change
  • Finding legal representation
  • Accessing healthcare
  • Support during the post-decision period - read about the support available after positive decision here , and negative decision here
  • Other asylum and post-asylum claim related matters

We can signpost you to other helpful services in your area by telephone or in person, just talk to an adviser or call our helpline. 

Other national social assistance:

ASAP: Asylum Support Appeals Project  - support right to food and shelter.
Refugee Action - Provide expert advice and guidance to those struggling to navigate the asylum system. Help those with refugee status to settle into their new homes and communities – everything from helping children into schools, to support booking doctors appointments, and ensuring a hot meal on arrival.
Refugee Council  - Provides crisis advice and practical support, and helps integration into the new communities and offers mental health counselling.
Red Cross
Room for Refugees

REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS

LONDON

Cardinal Hume Centre
Goodwill Caravan
Refugee Law Clinic - referrals from partner organisations only, for advice and preparation of fresh claims.
East:
Hackney Migrant Centre
Praxis
South:
Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network
Southwark Migrant Legal Action
South London Refugee Association

SOUTH EAST

Oxford: Asylum Welcome
Sussex:
Brighton Advice Centre
University of Sussex - Migration Law Clinic
Voices in Exile
Bournemouth: International Care Network  
Kent: Kent Refugee Action Network

SOUTH WEST

Bristol Refugee Rights  
Other organisations listed in Bristol can be found here.
Refugee Support Devon
University of Exeter - Immigration Clinic
University of Plymouth - Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic

NORTH EAST

Justice First

NORTH WEST

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit

EAST MIDLANDS

Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum

WEST MIDLANDS

ASIRT: Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team
Brushstrokes Community Project
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre

EAST ANGLIA

Suffolk Refugee Support

YORKSHIRE/HUMBER

PAFRAS: Positive Action for Refugees & Asylum Seekers
South Yorkshire Refugee Law & Justice

SCOTLAND

Scottish Refugee Council  - practical support once received refugee status
SRMC Scottish Refugee Migrant Centre

WALES

Asylum Justice

THEMES

ANTI FGM:

African Well Women’s Clinic
Oxford against cutting

APPEALS:

Manuel Bravo Project  - provide free legal assistance to asylum seekers with First Tier Tribunal appeals and fresh claims.

CHILDREN:

The Migrant Children’s Project

DETENTION:

Bail for Immigration Detainees - provide legal advice and representation to migrants detained in removal centres and prisons to help them secure their release.
Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group - support those detained in Tinsley House or Brook House IRC.
Kent Refugee Help - support those held in prisons around Kent and London.
Medical Justice - independent medical advice and assessments.
SOAS Detention Support Group

LGBTIQ+:

Persian LGBT
Rainbow Migration

The AIRE Centre: Advice on Individual Rights in Europe
Electronic Immigration Network
ILPA: Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association

TORTURE:

Freedom from Torture : Locations: services are available in the UK, from centres in  London Manchester Birmingham Newcastle  and  Glasgow
Redress

TRAFFICKING:

ATLEU: Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit
Helen Bamber Foundation - referrals-only service
Poppy Legal  - providing legal advice to potential and recognised victims of trafficking.

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