Asylum claim withdrawals

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This page will provide you with some general advice about what to do when your asylum claim is treated as ‘withdrawn’ if you do not have a lawyer.

CCLC would always recommend that you try to get advice and representation from a lawyer or regulated legal advisor in this situation. This information should not replace you getting specific legal advice about your case.

Below are some important things you need to know about asylum claim withdrawals. There is much more information in the factsheet on the right of this page.

When an asylum claim is ‘withdrawn’ this means that the Home Office will no longer consider it, and the person will not receive any decision from the Home Office (either of a grant of refugee status, or a refusal that you can appeal).

The Immigration Rules set out the circumstances in which it is appropriate to treat an asylum claim as withdrawn. These include:

  • when the asylum seeker fails to maintain contact with the Home Office, or fails to provide up to date contact details
  • when the asylum seeker fails to complete an asylum questionnaire when requested to do so
  • when the asylum seeker fails to attend an asylum interview, and cannot show within a reasonable time that this was because of circumstances beyond their control

There are also other circumstances, but these are the most common.

The Home Office should send a letter to say that they are considering withdrawing the claim. When the claim is being withdrawn because the Home Office does not have up to date contact details, the Home Office may simply keep a copy of the letter in their own records as they cannot send it to the young person.

When the claim is being withdrawn because of a failure to attend an interview, young person will be invited to write a letter to explain why the claim should not be withdrawn by providing a ‘reasonable explanation’ why they were not able to go to the interview, with supporting evidence. You can download our template letter here for guidance on how to write this letter.

A reasonable explanation is described in policy as a circumstance beyond the person’s control. This might include, but is not limited to, ill-health, a severe travel disruption, or an unavoidable medical appointment. Evidence should be provided: for example if their train was cancelled the young person should try to provide screen shots of the cancelled train service, or an email from the train company about the cancelled service.

If the young person does not explain why they missed the interview, or the Home Office does not think the explanation is ‘reasonable’, then the young person’s asylum claim will be treated as ‘withdrawn’. When the Home Office decide a claim is withdrawn they should send the young person a letter to say so.

If the Home Office decide to withdraw an asylum claim, then the young person will no longer be an asylum seeker and becomes undocumented.

If the young person has a lawyer, they should usually write to the Home Office formally, to ask for the claim to be ‘reinstated’ (treated as an ongoing asylum claim).

If a person does not have a lawyer then they will need to write to the Home Office themselves to ask for the claim to be reinstated. They should explain the reasons why they had failed to maintain contact or attend an interview with the Home Office, and why they did not respond to the letter saying that the Home Office was considering withdrawing the claim. They must give as many details and as much evidence as possible. For more details on what this could look like, please see our full PDF factsheet here.

If the Home Office or the court decide that a claim was incorrectly withdrawn, the claim will be reinstated and the young person will go through the asylum process as normal. This decision will be sent to the person in writing.

An organisation supporting the young person cannot write to the Home Office for the young person, unless they are OISC regulated and working for an OISC registered organisation. If a young person does not have a solicitor, they will need to write to the Home Office themselves. However, those supporting young people (such as keyworkers, personal advisors, or youth workers) can:

  • Explain the information on this fact-sheet to the young person, with an interpreter if needed
  • Explain the support organisation’s role and limits, so the young person understands what they can and cannot do
  • Ask the young person questions to help work out what has happened and why they missed the interview
  • Make notes of what the young person says and help them to write that in their email to the Home Office if this is something they find hard to do e.g. because of language barriers
  • Make sure the young person is aware of the deadline and is able to respond in time
  • Help the young person to gather supporting evidence

Right To Remain have created a useful online toolkit about the asylum process, including asylum withdrawals – it can be found here.

Download PDF

Download the full fact sheet