Becoming a refugee in the UK does not necessarily mean your freedom to travel around the world will be restricted.
However, it is worth noting that there are two significant exceptions to this. First, there are certain periods in the process where your ability to travel will be restricted, such as whilst your application is being considered by the Home Office. Under paragraph 334(i) of the Immigration Rules, asylum cannot be granted if you are not in the UK or at a UK port of entry. If you choose to leave the UK whilst your asylum claim is being considered, the Home Office has no obligation to continue to consider your claim. They could either treat your claim as if you wished to withdraw it, and terminate your asylum support, or they could refuse your claim on non-compliance grounds (in the latter case, you have a right of appeal).
Secondly, there may also be certain exceptions to your ability to travel anywhere you want once you have been granted refugee status. The exceptions to your ability to travel will, of course, depend on your individual circumstances for seeking asylum, but there are some useful general points to consider.
Can I visit my home country after asylum?
It is not uncommon for people to wish to return to their home countries after asylum to visit family and loved ones. Unfortunately, returning to your home country could put you in danger of losing your status as a refugee in the UK.
It is important to remember the reasons you gave the Home Office for seeking asylum in the first place. You most likely explained to the Secretary of State that you had a well-founded fear of returning home, for whatever reason, or a real risk of serious harm. Therefore, you will have told the Secretary of State that you think it is unsafe to return to your home country, or even certain third countries associated with the same danger or fear that you have experienced in your home country. In short, to grant you asylum in the UK, the Home Office will have satisfied themselves that a) you have, manifestly, a subjective fear of persecution or an apprehension of some future harm; and b) that, objectively, there is a reasonable degree of likelihood (or a real risk) of your fear being well-founded (i.e. likely to come true) on return to your home country.
You will have to consider whether traveling to a particular country would squander your previous arguments. The presumption may well be that you no longer have a well-founded fear that you have run from, and the Home Office may consider revoking your refugee status – they could decipher that you no longer need the protection of the UK.
You could, in a very few set of special circumstances, be granted permission to visit your home country, but you will have to apply in writing to the Home Office for this exception. The circumstances of your individual case for travelling to your home country, and also regarding your asylum in the UK, will be reviewed to consider whether you should be granted exceptional permission to travel.
What documents do I need to travel after asylum?
If you no longer have access to a passport from your home country, there is an option to obtain a Certificate of Travel once you have been granted refugee status of any kind in the UK. For example, if you hold a well-founded fear of your home countries national authorities, you may not be able to obtain your national passport. The Home Office will be well versed in such cases and can issue you with a Certificate of Travel under paragraph 344C of the Immigration Rules.
You may also be able to obtain a Certificate to Travel if you can show that you have formally and unreasonably been refused a national passport by your home country.
Most often, your Certificate of Travel will allow you to travel around the world, with the exception of your home country. Depending on your individual circumstances, there may also be other countries that fall outside of your Certificate of Travel – for instance, any third country that you may also have a well-founded fear in.
Gherson has extensive experience in all aspects of UK immigration law. If you have any queries relating to this blog, the blogs published, or are interested in talking to us about your specific asylum circumstances, please contact us to discuss your immigration matter, send us an e-mail, or alternatively, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.