Glossary Helper

Are you confused about the words your lawyer is using?
This is a glossary of immigration and asylum terms that may be used when people talk about child and young refugees and migrants.
You can search by selecting a letter of the alphabet, or type your word into the search box.

If you have any questions or suggestions please contact us.

  • A


    When a child is accommodated this means a local authority has given the child a place to live. This is also known as being looked after. This can happen if the parents of the child agree to it, or if there is no other suitable adult who is responsible for looking after the child. The child might be accommodated in a foster home, or residential home, or in semi-independent living (for ages 16-18).

    Age Assessment

    An age assessment is a formal process to decide what a person’s (usually a child) age is. An age assessment happens when the child does not have any official or genuine documents which confirm their date of birth and the Home Office or a local authority does not believe that the person is telling the truth about their age. The age assessment is usually carried out by social workers. It will involve an interview with questions that are designed to find out when a person was born. This process cannot find the exact date of birth but will estimate how old the child is.


    A person is age-disputed when the Home Office or the local authority do not believe that a person is the age they say that they are. They will usually have to go through an age assessment.

    If the person is decided to be an adult then they will receive different treatment and support in relation to their asylum claim than the treatment and support that a child would receive.

    Whilst their age is being considered they should be given the benefit of the doubt and treated as a child.


    Usually when an official decision has been made, the person or people who are affected by that decision can ask a higher court or higher authority to review that decision and to change it. For example, if the Home Office refuse to give a person asylum, that person can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal to ask them to look at the decision again.

    Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE)

    Appeal Rights Exhausted describes a person whose request for asylum or immigration application was refused, and who has made all of the appeals that they are allowed to make, without any success.

    Application Registration Card (ARC card)

    An ARC card is given to all asylum seekers after they apply for asylum. It is a very important form of identification as it shows that a person has applied for asylum, and other information such as whether they are allowed to work.

    Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

    The rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights are written under different numbered articles.

    Article 3 says No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This means that:

    no one should be tortured,
    no one should be treated or punished as if they were not human, and
    no one should be treated or punished to make them feel that they have no value.

    Countries like the UK which have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights must not send someone to a country where they might be treated like this, or where there is a danger that they might be sent from there to another country where they might be treated like this.

    Article 3 is a non qualified right. This means that the UK can never allow someone to be treated like this, or to be put in danger of being treated like this no matter what the situation is.

    Article 8 of the ECHR European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

    The rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights are written under different numbered articles.

    Article 8 says: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. This means that:

    everyone should be allowed to have a private life and a family life, and
    the government cannot interfere with this (for example by spying on them or stopping them from having contact with their family) unless they have a good reason for doing so (such as public safety).

    Article 8 is a qualified right which means that there are times when the government is allowed to interfere with the right to private and family life in some situations. However, the government must follow the law properly if doing this.

    Asylum Claim / Application

    Each country in the world is supposed to take care of its own citizens and make sure that they are safe.

    However, sometimes there are problems in a country (for example war, or political corruption) which mean that some of the citizens are in danger. If the government of that country cannot or does not want to keep its people safe, people from that country may ask another country to protect them. A person who leaves their own country to ask for protection in another country is asking for (or claiming) asylum. This might also be called a claim for international protection.

    In the UK, a part of the government known as the Home Office is responsible for looking at applications and deciding whether to accept the claim and allow the person to live in the UK so that they can be protected here.

    Asylum interview

    An asylum interview is a longer interview about a person’s reasons for claiming asylum in the UK. The interviewer will ask many details about the personÕs background, experiences in their home country, their travel to the UK and life in the UK, and the reasons why they are afraid to go back to their home country. Some of these questions will be designed to help the interviewer understand the reasons why the person is scared to return to their country of origin. Other questions may be used to test whether the person is genuinely from the country they claim to come from.

    Asylum Screening Unit (ASU)

    The Home Office prefers that people apply for asylum as soon as they enter the UK. However this is not always possible. A person who applies for asylum after they have entered the UK will need to go to the Asylum Screening Unit (ASU) in Croydon, South London, to make an asylum application in-country.

    The ASU is split into two sections, one deals with adults applying for asylum and the other is a separate part which only works on applications made by children.

    Asylum Seeker

    An asylum seeker is a person who asks to stay in a country because they do not feel safe to return to their home country. In the UK, an asylum seeker stops being officially called an asylum seeker when they have received a final decision.

    If the Home Office decides that the person would be at risk in their own country and should be allowed to stay, the person will be accepted as a Refugee.

    If the Home Office refuse the application there may be a right of appeal.

    When a person has used up all possible appeal options they are then known as appeal rights exhausted.

  • B


    In the UK there are two different types of lawyer: solicitors and barristers. Barristers usually specialise in going to court, talking to the judge, and making detailed arguments in the court. Solicitors usually meet with clients from the start of the case, advise them on how the law applies to their case, and work with them on preparing the case. They may then hand over the information to a barrister to present it to the judge in the best way possible. In the immigration courts solicitors are allowed to go to court and talk to the judges and some prefer to do this.

    Best interests

    A child’s best interests are those things that are most important to their health, happiness and growth, now and in the future. In UK law, anyone making a decision that affects a child must think carefully about what is in their best interests. The child’s best interests must be a very important consideration when making the decision.

    Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

    A Biometric Residence Permit, or BRP, is a card that shows that a person has the right to stay in the UK. The card holds information about the person: their name, date of birth, nationality, fingerprints, a photograph, the type of permission they have to stay in the UK and when that permission ends. The card should confirm whether there are any conditions on the permission to stay, such as whether a person can access benefits, whether they can work, and if so, for how long.

    A BRP can be used as official proof of a person’s permission to stay in the UK and can be helpful to prove their identity. Employers will usually want to see a BRP before agreeing to employ someone from outside Europe.

  • C

    Care leaver

    Someone who is under the age of 25 and has been cared for by the UK state (or looked after by the local authority) is known as a care leaver if they meet certain conditions. They must have been in care at school leaving age (16) or after that date, and for at least 13 weeks since age 14.

    Care order

    When the UK state is concerned that a child is suffering harm or might suffer harm in the future because they are not being properly cared for, they can issue a care order. There are two types:

    Interim care orders are given when the risk to the child is not clear, and investigations need to be made.

    Full care orders are given when the risk is clear and it has been decided that the child cannot return to their previous care or family setting. With a full care order, the child or young person becomes the responsibility of the UK state.

    Child in need

    A child in need is a child under 18 years of age who is disabled, or who needs support from the local authority to either support their health or development or to prevent harm being done to their health or development.


    According to UK law, a child is anyone under the age of 18 years.

    Children’s rights

    Rights is a word used to describe the things that we need to survive and develop, to be safe and happy. For example the right to food, housing, and care. Children have needs that are different and additional to adults needs. Children are less able to get what they need on their own, and may need an adult or the government to help them.

    The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) lists the special protections and care that children should receive. Many of these special protections and care, or children’s rights, have been written into UK law, and/or are explained and interpreted in important court decisions. These rights apply to all children in the UK, no matter where they come from.

    Clearly unfounded

    When the UK government believes that an asylum seeker comes from a country that is safe and that they would not be in danger if they returned there, they say that the person’s asylum claim is clearly unfounded. This means that they think that it cannot be possible for a person to be in danger in that country, and so the asylum claim cannot succeed.

    Usually, when an asylum claim is refused, the person applying is allowed to appeal against the decision and can stay in the UK to make their appeal. When the Home Office decides that a case is clearly unfounded they can issue a certificate saying that the person can only appeal from outside the UK. This is known as certifying an application.

    Cases from certain countries are always certified as clearly unfounded. If this happens, it might only be possible to bring an appeal against the refusal of asylum from outside the UK.

    Community care lawyers

    The term community care is used to describe services provided by social services and the NHS to help adults and children with health and socialÊcare needs such as learning difficulties, physical and mental health difficulties, education needs, or a need for care because they have no adult to look after them.

    Community care lawyers make sure that people get the support they need, for example by challenging incorrect or illegal decisions made by public bodies including the NHS and social services. This can include challenging incorrect age assessments, refusal to provide accommodation and care for destitute families with children, and refusal to provide for special educational needs.

    Convention travel document (CTD)

    A Convention Travel Document, also known as a blue document or CTD, is given to people with refugee status to use as a valid travel document in place of passport to travel overseas. This document is valid for all countries except the refugee’s home country. A refugee who travels on their national passport risks having their refugee status taken away, and so it is important to obtain a CTD.

    Country of origin information

    Country of origin information is information about countries from which asylum seekers originate, which helps decision-makers to understand what dangers an asylum seeker might face there if they were to return. Information could be reports, research, articles news items, or other kinds of information about a particular country.

  • D


    Deportation is when the UK government physically removes a person from the UK to another country, because they believe that it is not good for the people in the UK if that person stays (it can also happen if a court has ordered it).

    Deportation is used as a response to the behaviour of the individual within the UK if they have committed crimes, or there is evidence that they been involved in criminal activity even if not convicted.

    Deportation is often confused with ‘administrative removal’ because the immediate effect of each is that a person is removed from the UK. However actually they are very different in law. A person is deported in response to bad behaviour as explained above. When a person has been deported there will be an order in force preventing them from returning to the UK whilst the order is in force.

    Administrative removal is used when a person doesn’t have any legal right to stay in the UK. When a person is removed there is no order in force preventing them from returning to the UK, although in practice this might be difficult to do because the person will be considered to have a poor immigration history.

    Discretionary Leave (DL)

    A person who is not granted asylum or humanitarian protection by the Home Office may be given a time-limited permission to stay called discretionary leave (DL, sometimes also called discretionary leave to remain or DLR). Sometimes this discretionary leave is the name used for other types of limited permission to stay.

    DL used to be granted for between 6 months and 3 years, but is now given for a maximum of 30 months.


    To reduce the number of asylum seekers and refugees in London and the South East of England, the UK government moves them to areas where there are less asylum applicants. This is known as dispersal.

    Documented status

    A person has documented status if they can show documents such as a passport, a birth certificate or identity card to prove their identity and their right to be present in the UK.

    Dublin III regulation

    The European Union has made rules that decide which country in the European Union should be responsible for making a decision about the asylum claim of someone who comes from outside the European Union. (For adults, this is usually the first European country that the person entered, but for children the rules are different, especially if they have a relative in a European Union country). The rules are all together known as the Dublin III regulation.

  • E

    EEA national

    Any citizen of a European Union country, or of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway is considered an EEA national.

    English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

    The most common education course for new English speakers and recent arrivals to the UK is an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course. There are a number of difficulty levels, ranging from pre-entry, Entry 1 to Level 3. Students must develop their skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

    Entry clearance

    Leave to Enter or Entry Clearance means permission to enter the UK. Entry Clearance is also known as a visa. A person who is not British or (currently) an EEA national will usually need to get permission to come to the UK before they arrive (people from some countries can come on a tourist visa that is given at the airport, but this is less common now).

    An application will need to be made for Entry Clearance at the British Embassy or High Commission in the country where the person is living at the point that they want to travel to the UK. If the application for a visa is successful, the applicant will be granted Entry Clearance allowing them to come to the UK.

    There will be limits and conditions on how long the person can stay in the UK and what they can and cannot do while staying there, depending on the type of visa they apply for.


    Countries in the European Union keep a database of the fingerprints of all asylum applicants. This is known as the Eurodac database. It is used to monitor applications and make sure that each person does not make more than one claim.

    European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international document agreed by European countries in 1953, that lists the human rights and freedoms of all people in Europe. The ECHR can be used in UK law courts. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg can listen to and make decisions about cases brought by individuals, organisations and states in Europe.

    Exceptional Case Funding (ECF)

    The Legal Aid Fund is money held by the government and used to pay for legal services for people who do not have enough money to pay for legal advice themselves. There are rules about who can get legal aid and when. Whether a person can get legal aid will depend on:

    whether they have enough money to pay for legal advice
    whether their case has enough chance of winning to justify spending money on the case
    whether their case is of a type for which legal aid is available

    Some types of case will automatically get legal aid, but others will only get legal aid if they are very complicated, or serious, or it would be difficult for the person with the legal problem to bring the case without the help of a lawyer. This includes most types of immigration (not asylum) cases.

    The Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) Scheme exists to deal with applications for legal aid which wouldn’t normally be funded, but are complex, serious or difficult. A person who wants legal aid will need to apply to the Legal Aid Agency who will decide whether to grant the person ECF for their case.

    Expert report

    An expert report is a special report that is written by an expert in particular subject area. The expert’s knowledge and opinion is needed to help the decision-maker (who could be for example the Home Office, or a tribunal or court) understand the facts about a case. The expert might be an expert on a particular country and able to share detailed knowledge about particular events or practices in that country. Or they might be a medical or psychological expert who can explain medically how a person is affected by the difficulties or violence they have faced. An expert who has prepared a report may be called on to speak directly to a judge about their report and give evidence.


    Exploitation means treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

    Child exploitation is when a child is used for profit, for work, for sexual enjoyment, or some other personal or financial advantage. Child exploitation often results in cruel or harmful treatment of the child and can cause emotional, physical, and social problems for the child.

  • F

    Failed Asylum Seeker

    A person who has applied for asylum and been refused, and who has no remaining appeal rights is sometimes called a failed asylum seeker. They may also be referred to as being ‘appeal rights exhausted’ or ‘ARE’.

    Family reunion

    Family reunion means bringing a family back together again after they have been separated. The international laws in relation to refugee status state that refugees should be allowed to reunite with their families.

    In the UK, people with refugee status or humanitarian protection are allowed to bring their close family members (husband or wife and children) to join them under family reunion policies, as long as they were part of the same family before they escaped danger.

    It may be possible to apply for other family members (for instance your parents if you are a child refugee) but this is more difficult because the UK Immigration Rules do not cover these situations fully.

    Family tracing

    Family Tracing is the process of finding separated family members, in any country, and making contact with them. Often this is carried out by the Red Cross, but the government also has a responsibility to carry out family tracing where it is safe (for the child and the family) to do so.

    Fee Exemption

    The Home Office charges a fee to anyone who makes an application for permission to enter or stay in the UK on the basis of immigration rules (not asylum).

    Some people automatically do not have to pay the fee. They are ‘exempt’ from paying the fee. For example, children who are in local authority care are exempt from paying fees, and so are people making applications under the Domestic Violence concessions. There are other exemptions which are subject to change and not included in this glossary.

    Fee waiver

    The Home Office charges a fee to anyone who makes an application for permission to enter or stay in the UK on the basis of immigration (non-asylum) rules. If a person cannot afford to pay the fee for making their immigration application then they will need to provide evidence about their financial situation and apply for a ‘fee waiver’ at the same time as they make their application. If the application is successful then their application will be considered by the Home Office without the need to pay a fee.

    Fee waivers are not available for all applications. Only applications that allow people to access their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights can benefit from the fee waiver system.

    First-tier tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)

    If the Home Office refuses your application and you have a right of appeal, you must make your appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) “FTT(IAC)”. The FTT(IAC) is a court that can look at the decision made by the Home Office, the application you made, and also any additional evidence you can provide, and then make its own decision about your application. That decision will replace the Home Office decision, and will give reasons in a document known as a ‘determination’.

    If the FTT(IAC) refuses the appeal then there may be a right of appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) if you can show that the FTT(IAC) made a mistake about the law.

    Foster Care

    When a child under 16 is put in care by the state they will often go to live in foster care. A foster carer is an ordinary person who opens their home to provide care to children who do not have family to look after them. Some children need to live in foster care for a short period of time and other children need a home for a longer period.

    Fresh claim

    When a person has been refused asylum, and all of their appeals against the decision have failed, their asylum claim will be at the end, and they will be ‘Appeal Rights Exhausted’ (ARE). They will not have any right to stay in the UK.

    A person who is ARE may be able to make a fresh claim for asylum if they can provide new evidence that the Home Office has not seen before, and if this evidence has a chance to persuade the Home Office to make a different decision.

    The new evidence must be sent to the Home Office with an explanation of why it was not provided before, and why it should change the decision already made. If the Home Office accepts that the evidence really is new and could change their decision, they have to look at the case again and make a new decision.

    An immigration lawyer can give advice about how to make a fresh claim.

    Further Education

    Further education means school or college, apprenticeships, and work with training, usually for people aged sixteen or over until they are 18.

  • H

    HC1 form

    People with a low income, including asylum seekers, can get help to pay for some medical costs such as prescription charges, dental treatment charges, or the cost of travel to medical appointments. They must fill in the HC1 form. If they are eligible to receive full help with medical costs they will receive an HC2 certificate.

    HC2 certificate

    People with a low income, including asylum seekers, can get help to pay for some medical costs such as prescription charges, dental treatment charges, or the cost of travel. They must fill in the HC1 form. If they are eligible to receive full help with medical costs they will receive an HC2 certificate.

    Higher Education

    Higher education courses are usually for people who are 18 or older. They are taught in universities, colleges, or specialist institutions like art schools or agricultural colleges. Higher education qualifications include NVQs, diplomas, bachelor degrees, foundation degrees, and post-graduate degrees.

    Home Office

    The Home Office is the lead department of the UK government responsible for law and order, and control of the UK’s borders. The Home Office includes the departments in the government responsible for deciding which foreign nationals are allow to remain in the UK, and the conditions upon which they can stay.

    When a person applies to stay in the UK their application is made to the Home Office.

    Home Office case worker

    A Home Office case worker is a person employed by the Home office to consider applications for permission to remain in the UK.

    A Home Office caseworker considering an immigration application will usually just examine the application and evidence provided, and compare this with information and guidance that the government has..They may contact the applicant if they want additional information.

    A Home Office caseworker considering an asylum application does not just look at paperwork. They will usually hear a person’s claim for asylum in an interview, examine all the evidence that they provide about their claim, and compare this with information and guidance that the government has. They will use all of this to make a decision about what kind of permission the person might be given to stay in the UK.

    If a person has been referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NMR) then a different Home Officer caseworker will make a decision about their trafficking case.

    Home or Overseas Students

    If a person wants to attend higher education in the UK, they have to pay money for their course. The amount that they will pay depends on whether they are classed as a Home Student or an Overseas Student. Generally, British citizens, EEA nationals, refugees, those with Humanitarian protection and those with Indefinite Leave to Remain count as home students so they pay the lower rate. Overseas Students pay much more. However, the law is complicated and changes a lot, so working out who counts as what is often difficult.

    Hostile environment

    Since 2012, the UK government has introduced laws and policies to create a hostile environment for migrants who do not have the right to stay in the UK. These laws have made it harder to access housing, employment, healthcare and public services if you cannot prove that you are allowed to be in the country. Other changes introduced under the strategy make it difficult for undocumented or irregular migrants to open bank accounts, get driving licenses, and fight their legal cases.

    Humanitarian Protection (HP)

    If a person is not a refugee because their situation does not fit the legal definition of a refugee (perhaps because the reason for their persecution is not a Convention Reason), but they cannot return to their country of origin because they still might face serious harm (to their life or freedom), they should receive Humanitarian Protection. This allows them to live and work in the UK for 5 years, after which they can apply to settle in the UK. The terms of Humanitarian Protection are very similar to those of refugee status.

  • I

    Immigration Enforcement

    Immigration enforcement is the part of the Home Office responsible for making sure that the UKÕs immigration laws are obeyed.

    Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

    Anyone applying for permission to enter or stay in the UK for more than 6 months needs to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when they make their application. This payment is in addition to the visa application fee. You have to pay it even if you have private medical insurance.

    Paying the IHS means that you will be entitled to use the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK. You may still need to pay for certain types of services such as dental treatments and eye tests.

    If you are applying for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) you do not have to pay the IHS.

    At present people from the EEA do not have to pay the IHS.

    Immigration judge

    An immigration judge is a person appointed by the head of the judicial system to listen to and decide on appeals to the first-tier and upper tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

    Immigration lawyer

    A lawyer is someone who knows and understands the law. An immigration lawyer knows the laws and policies that the Home Office will use to make a decision on an asylum or immigration application

    Immigration removal centre

    Immigration removal centres are detention centres – places used to imprison people under immigration laws. This can include people at any stage of the asylum process, not (as you might think from the name) just before removal.

    However, other than where someone is having their asylum claim dealt with via a ‘fast track’ procedure, detention is usually only allowed where there is a good prospect that they will be removed from the UK very soon.

    Immigration status

    For people who are not British citizens, immigration status means the kind of permission they have (or don’t have) to stay in the UK. Asylum seeker, appeal rights exhausted, refugee, recipient of humanitarian protection, student visa holder, and indefinite leave to remain, are all examples of immigration statuses.

    Immigration status document

    Documents that show the type of immigration status a person has are called immigration status documents. This includes visas and biometric residence permits.

    In the past, the Home Office would issue a document known as an ‘Immigration Status Document’ if a person did not have a passport in which their proof of status could be placed. These documents are no longer issued, and have been replaced by Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs), but there may be a few people who still have one.

    In-country asylum application

    Many people claim asylum at the port (airport, train station, sea port) when they arrive in the UK. A person who applies for asylum after they have entered the UK will need to go to the Asylum Intake Unit in Croydon, South London, to lodge their claim. This is called making an in-country asylum application.

    Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE)

    Indefinite Leave to Enter is a type of permission to stay in the UK which is given to people who apply to live in the UK from abroad. It means the person has no time limit on their stay and can stay in the UK as long as they want to, and forever if they choose. This permission is granted to people who are not yet in the UK, such as children joining their parents.

    Indefinite Leave to Enter can be taken back (or ‘revoked’) if the person commits a serious crime. Indefinite Leave to Enter can also be lost if the person leaves the UK and stays outside the country for 2 years or more.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a type of permission to stay in the UK which is given to people who are already in the country. It means the person has no time limit on their stay, and can stay in the UK as long as they want to, and forever if they choose.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain can be taken back (or ‘revoked’) if the person commits a serious crime. Indefinite Leave to Remain can also be lost if the person leaves the UK and stays outside the country for 2 years or more.

    Independent Reviewing Officer

    When a child is placed in the care of a local authority, an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will make sure that they are happy with where they’ve been housed, and that social services are doing all they should be doing. An IRO is independent and separate from social workers.

    An IRO should check that the child’s care plan is right for their future, that everyone listens to what they have to say and considers it carefully, and that everyone is keeping to their part of the plan. The IRO should meet with the child at least every six months. The child should tell their IRO if there are any problems with their care or if they feel their social worker isn’t listening to them.

    Informal care arrangements

    The UK authorities have to make sure there are suitable care arrangements for any child who is separated from their parents. Sometimes this means the child will stay with a foster carer, but sometimes a member of the child’s extended family, like a grandparent, aunt or uncle, provides the care. These are called informal care arrangements because they are not monitored as closely as arrangements like fostering.

    International protection

    When someone is unsafe in the country they are from, they can find safety in another country. This is called international protection. Countries like the UK give different types of international protection depending on the kind of danger that the person faces.

    Examples of international protection are refugee status and humanitarian protection.


    An interpreter is a person who can speak two (or more) languages well, and can therefore assist people who know only one of those languages to understand each other.

    An interpreter’s job is to make sure that all the words a person speaks are translated clearly exactly as they said them, and to translate all the words that are said to that person clearly into their own language, so that they can understand. An interpreter should not tell you what to say, or what not to say.

    There should always be an interpreter available to help at a formal interview such as an asylum interview, or a doctor’s appointment, for example.

    If you don’t understand your interpreter well, if you think they are not translating everything, or if you have any other worries then you must tell someone. In most cases there is the right to ask for another interpreter.


    An asylum seeker who applies for asylum as soon as they arrive in the UK may be granted temporary admission to the UK and given an IS96 letter. IS96 letters may also be given to people who are released from detention. The letter states the conditions of temporary admission, which will include a requirement that the person must report regularly to the Home Office, a requirement that the person must live at a particular address, and that they may not work.

  • J

    Judicial Review

    A judicial review is a special type of court proceeding where a judge looks at whether a decision or action made by a public body was lawful.

    In other words, a judicial review looks at the way in which a decision has been made and decides whether the way the decision was made followed the law and policy properly. It does not look at whether the conclusion reached was right or wrong. A Judicial Review is only possible when there is no other way to challenge the public authority that has made the decision that is alleged to be unlawful.

    Sometimes, if there is no right to appeal a decision made about an immigration or asylum case, it may be possible to bring a judicial review. Legal advice is always recommended because this procedure is very formal.

  • K

    Kinship Care

    When a child who cannot be looked after by their parent is cared for by a close relative, for example by a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or step-parent, this is referred to as kinship Care.

  • L

    Lawful residence

    Any time spent in the UK at a point when the person has or had permission to remain in the UK is considered to be lawful residence. This can include time spent waiting for a decision on an extension of leave to remain (provided that the application for an extension was submitted before the previous period of leave to remain ended), or an appeal against refusal of leave to remain (provided that both the application and the appeal were submitted within the applicable deadline).

    Lawfully present

    If someone has permission to remain in the UK, or is waiting for a decision on an application to extend their permission (provided that their application was submitted before their previous permission to remain ended), or if they are appealing a decision refusing permission to stay, that person is lawfully present in the UK.

    Leave to remain

    Leave to remain is another way of saying permission to stay in the UK. Sometimes leave to remain comes with a time limit, or with other conditions that say how a person should behave or what they are entitled to as long as they stay in the UK. For example, these conditions may say whether you can access welfare benefits, whether you can work, and if so for how many hours.

    Leaving care provisions

    If a young person has been in the care of a local authority for a certain amount of time as a child, they will receive support from the local authority even after they turn 18. This is called leaving care provisions, and it helps them to care for themselves, set future goals and enter into adulthood safely.

    Legal advice / Legal representation

    When a case goes to court, it is important that both sides of the case are heard. Speaking in support of one side is called representing that side.

    If you are going to court then you can represent yourself, or ask a lawyer to represent you. This is legal representation, and in most cases using a lawyer is the best idea they know more about the law and are more likely to win the case.

    Legal aid

    When someone has legal problems but cannot afford to pay a lawyer, they may be able to get free advice or representation from a lawyer that is paid for by legal aid. In the UK Legal Aid can only be given for certain types of cases. Legal aid is provided by the government, but this does not mean that lawyers who are paid through legal aid work for the government.

    Legal Aid Agency (LAA)

    The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is in charge of the money that the government provides for legal advice and assistance services for those who cannot afford to pay themselves.

    The Legal Aid Agency makes some of the decisions about who can get legal aid, and also decides whether or not to pay lawyers for the work they have done.

    Limited Leave to Remain

    When a person is granted permission to remain in the UK only for a certain time period (and sometimes with other conditions attached), this is called limited leave to remain.

    Live asylum cases

    An asylum case that has not yet been decided is known as a live asylum case.

    Local Authority

    Responsibility for the day-to-day running of services in a local area belongs to the local authority. Along with other things, the local authority is responsible for monitoring the welfare of children in the area, and they are responsible for looking after children who do not have a responsible adult to take care of them.

    Looked after child

    When a local authority has to provide a child under the age of 18 with somewhere to stay, even if only for one night, because there is no responsible adult who can look after them, that child is called a looked after child.

  • M


    Sometimes it is possible to stop a disagreement or conflict going to court by using mediation. This is when someone who is not involved in the argument steps in to help bring about a solution that both sides are happy with.

    Mediation is especially useful if the people involved in the conflict do not have a good relationship, because mediation helps them to communicate.

    Mediation is not used in immigration and asylum cases.

    Modern slavery

    If a person is transported to another country against their will, or if they are tricked into travelling, or if they are forced to work or to have sex, or if they have to work in poor conditions that do not meet legal requirements, or if they are working because they fear someone might hurt their family, they might be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking.

    Children, unlike adults, are not considered able to give ‘informed consent’ to their own exploitation, so in children’s cases it is not necessary to consider the means used for the exploitation such as whether they were forced, coerced or deceived into working or sexual activities, for example.

    The UK has a special set of laws to protect people against this kind of treatment. Call the Modern Slavery Helpline for advice at any time on 08000 121 700.

  • N

    National Asylum Allocation Unit (NAAU)

    After the welfare interview, a child’s asylum claim will pass to the National Asylum Allocation Unit (NAAU), who will decide what route the asylum application should take.

    National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

    The National Referral Mechanism or NRM is a system for identifying people who have been trafficked or victims of modern slavery, and for making sure that these people receive the protection and support that they need.

    After a person has been referred to the NRM, the case will be investigated and a reasonable grounds decision will be made. If the reasonable grounds decision is positive then the person can get legal aid to help with their case and they will be allowed to stay in the UK for at least another 45 days while the NRM makes more investigations. If the reasonable grounds decision is negative the NRM will close the case and there is no formal appeal.

    After a reasonable grounds decision, the NRM must then make a conclusive grounds decision. If this decision is positive then the person is recognised as having been trafficked, and they may be given 12 months leave to remain in the UK.

    National Transfer Protocol

    The national transfer protocol is a system for local authorities to send unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to a different local authority if they already have a lot of children to look after. The local authority that the child is to be sent to must agree to the transfer and be properly prepared to receive the child.

    No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

    Public funds are benefits like welfare, unemployment and housing payments, that are usually available to British nationals, EEA nationals, refugees, people with humanitarian protection and people with indefinite leave to enter or remain. Sometimes people who are allowed to stay in the UK on a visa are not allowed these benefits. This is called having Òno recourse to public funds.Ó

  • O


    If someone was given permission to stay in the UK for a certain amount of time, but they have remained in the UK for longer than this, then they can be described as an overstayer. Overstaying is a crime and could stop you from being able to stay in the UK in the future.

  • P

    Points Based System (PBS)

    For some immigration cases, the UK uses a points-based system to decide who should be allowed to live here. Under this system, points are awarded to the person based on things like their, education, work experience and the amount of money they have. If they have enough points, then they are allowed to work or study in the UK and will be granted a visa.

    Port of Entry

    The place where a person first enters the UK is known as their port of entry. This could be a ferry port like the one in Dover, or an airport. The Home Office expect asylum seekers to make their asylum claim as soon as possible at the port of entry but this is not always possible.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    Some people who have gone through very frightening, stressful or painful experiences may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a mental health condition It can negatively affect how they feel, their sleeping patterns, and their everyday activities. It can also sometimes make them re-live their experiences in the form of flashbacks.

    People suffering from PTSD are likely to need to access specialist health services to help them to recover and manage their symptoms.

    Private fostering

    When a child under the age of 16 (or 18 if they have a disability) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative, this is known as private fostering. This is a private arrangement made between the parent and the carer for 28 days or more.

    Protection needs

    If the health, welfare, safety or development of a child is under threat, then they have protection needs.

    Public Funds

    Public funds means money that is given to people to make sure that they can look after themselves (to pay for things like housing, childcare, and living costs if they do not have a job for example). Discounts on their tax bills (tax credits) are also known as public funds. A full list of public funds can be found here:–2/public-funds

  • R


    The most common meaning of refugee is someone who has left their home country because they are afraid of being persecuted (this means they fear being killed or other serious harm) for one of five reasons: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group. Such a person can be recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees.

    There are other definitions of refugee under different international treaties which can include people who have left their country because they fear serious harm – which does not have to be for any of the five reasons listed above.

    Different countries recognise different types of refugees, but under international law all countries should ensure that 1951 Geneva Convention refugees are not returned to their home country and should give them certain rights.

    Regularise stay / status

    When someone living in the UK without permission to stay there applies successfully permission to stay, we can say that they have regularised their stay. If their application to stay is refused then their stay will remain ‘irregular’.

    Responsible Adult

    When a child is interviewed by the police or the home office a responsible adult (also called an appropriate adult) should be there with them. Their role is to protect the rights of the child, making sure they understand the legal process and are able to communicate with the interviewer. A responsible or appropriate adult might be a parent, foster parent, social worker, refugee support organisation worker, or a guardian, but they should also be someone the child knows and trusts.

  • S

    Section 3C leave

    If a person is given permission to remain in the UK for a limited period of time, they will need to apply to the government for permission to stay longer if they want to stay longer than their residence permit allows. Any application must be made before the previous period of permission finishes. UK Immigration law says that when a person makes a valid in-time application (this means that they apply before their previous period of permission ends) then their permission to stay will automatically extend until a decision is made on the new application (and any appeal, if applicable).

    This is known as section 3C leave because it is named after s.3C of the Immigration Act 1971 which is the source of this law.

    This means that the rights and entitlements of their original permission are held in place until the application, or any appeals against a decision made about the application, have been processed.

    Although s.3C leave was designed to prevent people who were awaiting a decision from experiencing problems, unfortunately there are lots of practical difficulties, because the Home Office does not issue any documentation to a person with s.3C leave, and therefore employers and service providers do not always understand what it means and think that the person no longer has permission to stay, because they cannot provide any documents to prove that they are in the UK lawfully at that point, or what their rights and entitlements are.

    Separated child

    A person under 18 who is not living with their parent or main caregiver is known as a separated child.

    Social Services

    Social services is the phrase used to describe services provided by the government (or local government) for the benefit of the community, and to try to ensure that everyone has an equal chance in life regardless of their financial situation. Social services include education, healthcare, employment support and childrenÕs services, among others. Social Services are particularly important for those who are vulnerable (because of their age, ill-health or disability) and who do not have anyone else to care for them.

    Social Worker

    Social workers are people whose job is to help individuals and families or groups. They are employed by the local authority. They try to protect vulnerable people from harm and support them to live independently and improve their lives. In the case of children and young people who are looked after, the social worker is responsible for managing their care plan.

    Statement of Evidence Form (SEF)

    After a person has made an asylum claim at the port of entry or at the Asylum Intake Unit (AIU) in Croydon, they will be asked to fill in a form that explains why they are asking for asylum. This form is called the Statement of Evidence Form or SEF.

    This form is usually only given to children, who should be helped by an interpreter, legal representative and/or social worker to complete the form. Confusingly, the main asylum interview for adults is sometimes called the SEF interview, although adults are no longer asked to complete this form.

    Statutory agencies

    The UK government often asks organisations to carry out work on their behalf. The government writes laws (legislation) to ensure that these organisations do the right thing. Any organisation that carries out such work is known as a statutory agency.

    Staying Put arrangements

    Sometimes, people who have lived in foster care during childhood will want to continue to stay with their foster parent after their 18th birthday – just as many young people living in birth families continue to live with their parents after they become 18. People who have lived in foster care can make arrangements, known as staying put arrangements, to do this. Their foster carers must agree to the arrangement.

    Subject Access Request

    If a person wants to find out what information is held about them by the Home Office, they can make a subject access request to see any documents that refer to them. In order to make such a request, they must be able to prove their identity and pay a fee of £10. This can be done online.

    The person can choose whether to obtain all of their records or only electronic records. It is usually better to request the full file as this should provide a better picture of what information the Home Office holds.

    Supported under section 17 Children Act 1989

    By law (the Children Act 1989), local authorities must take steps to protect the welfare and development of any child in need living in their area, and try to make sure that they are brought up by their families where possible. Children supported under section 17 Children Act 1989 and their families may receive advice, counselling, care or supervised activities, accommodation and sometimes financial help, depending on the needs of the child. Whatever their immigration status, no child can be excluded from s.17 support. Even those families who have no recourse to public funds may be eligible for support under section 17 if they have dependent children whose welfare might be affected if no support is provided.

    Supported under section 20 Children Act 1989

    The law says that local authorities must provide a place to live for children who do not have any parent or responsible adult to take care of them. Children who are lost or abandoned, or whose parents or carers cannot provide them with a suitable home, or who are over 16 and living separately from their parents but would be at risk if they do not have a home will be supported under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. Children who are cared for by the local authority under section 20 are often known as looked after children.

  • T


    A therapist (or psychotherapist) is a person who helps people deal with stress or other problems when they are going through difficult times. Through therapy, people learn about themselves and discover ways to overcome difficulties or make changes in themselves or their situations. Often, it feels good just to have a person to talk to.

    Trafficking (in persons)

    Trafficking (in persons) means moving a person either inside a country or between two or more countries, by using threat, force or lies, so that they can be exploited. Exploitation means using someone for example to make money by forcing that person to have sex or to work, or to remove their organs.

    The rules for children are different. If a child has been moved for exploitation then they are a victim of trafficking no matter whether the child was threatened forced or lied to in order to make them move, regardless of whether threats, force or deception were used.

  • U

    UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a document that describes the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child. There are 54 special articles in the UNCRC. Each describes a different right or freedom and suggests what governments should do to make them all available to all children. Every country in the world but three (Somalia, South Sudan and the US) has agreed to the UNCRC.

    Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC)

    A child who is under 18 years, does not have any parent or responsible older adult to look after them, and is making a claim for asylum can be described as an unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC). The local authority will be responsible for their care and providing them with a home if the childÕs age is accepted as being under 18.

    An unaccompanied minor whose asylum claim has been finally refused can only be returned to their country of origin if arrangements to care for them are in place in the country. If no arrangements are possible then the child will be given limited leave to remain until they are 17 and a half years old. Often the child will be given limited leave to remain even though they can still appeal a refusal of their asylum claim.

    Unaccompanied minor or unaccompanied child

    This term is used a lot in relation to refugees and asylum seekers. A child who is under 18 years and does not have any parent or responsible older adult to look after them can be described as an unaccompanied minor or unaccompanied child. The local authority will be responsible for their care and providing them with a home if the child’s age is accepted as being under 18.

    Undocumented child

    Any person under 18 who is not able to show documentation that proves their identity or their right to stay in the UK (whether or not this documentation exists) can be described as an undocumented child. The fact that a child does not have any documentation to prove their immigration status or identity does not always mean that they are unlawfully present in the UK

    Unlawfully present

    A person who does not have any permission to enter or remain in the UK is likely to be ‘unlawfully present’ in the UK. The exception to this is (arguably) children born in the UK who do not have permission to remain. A child born in the UK has not entered the country illegally and so is not unlawfully present even though they don’t have any formal permission to be here.

  • V


    A visa is an endorsement (a stamp or document) on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a certain period of time in a country. They are usually issued before the person travels, and should show how long they are allowed to stay and other rules like whether they are allowed to work.

  • W


    Welfare means a person’s emotional, physical and social state of being.

  • Y

    Young Person/People

    Young Person/PeopleA young person generally means anyone aged 18-24.