It is important that the UK should be able to provide refuge for those in genuine need while also deterring false claimants and removing those whose claims have been rejected.
An “asylum seeker” is a person who has claimed asylum under the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”) on the ground that if he or she is returned to his country of origin he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political belief or membership of a particular social group.
In 2018, the UK granted asylum or some other form of international protection or resettlement to 15,891 people. (For international comparison, Japan – which is also a signatory to the Refugee Convention - granted asylum, resettlement or international protection to 82 people in the same year).
An asylum claimant can remain here for so long as the application or an appeal against refusal of his application is pending.
In recent years, grants of asylum (as against total claims) have outstripped refusals when appeals are taken into account. Just over half of cases are eventually successful - 38% are granted at the initial decision, and a further 17% are granted after appeal. Less than 40% of those who were refused asylum between 2004 and 2017 were removed or departed voluntarily.
The asylum system is under increasing strain and has been the target of abuse by some who have used it as a means of backdoor immigration.
As regards the EU, of the 120,000 migrants who had arrived in December 2015, 60% were from countries where they had no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status’ (First Vice President, European Commission).