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Asylum Registration: Screening Process

Asylum seekers must register their claim by giving information at a 'screening unit'. Check what happens at the meeting with an immigration officer and asylum registration.

ASYLUM SCREENING: All displaced persons need to register their claim for asylum. Many asylum seekers do this as soon as they arrive in the United Kingdom.

In these cases, the asylum screening process takes place at one of the UK borders.

But, you can also get screened afterwards if you meet the asylum eligibility criteria.

Several things will happen at the screening unit. An immigration officer will:

  • Take your photograph and keep a copy of your fingerprints.
  • Conduct an interview to determine who you are and which country you come from.

During the meeting with an immigration office they will ask you why you want to register for asylum. You should take any identification documents that you have to the screening unit.

You must inform the officers if you or any dependants are taking medication. Give them all the relevant medical information at your screening. You can also take any written evidence that supports your claim for asylum.

Note: The UK asylum rules and regulations allow you to ask for a male or female interviewer. But, they do not guarantee that your choice of gender will always be available.

Screening at United Kingdom Borders

A standard process occurs when visitors arrive at United Kingdom borders. But, asylum seekers must inform a Border Force officer that they want to claim asylum in the UK.

They will register your application and screen you. You can ask for an interpreter if you need one to understand the screening process.

Screening Units within the United Kingdom

Some asylum applicants may already have entered into the country. They will need to make an appointment with one of the asylum screening units in the UK. You must take certain documents with you, including:

  • Any documentation needed for your application.
  • Any dependants who are also claiming asylum with you (e.g. a partner and children under 18).

You can make a visit without an appointment. But, they may ask you to go back another day if you show up without an appointment.

Those who have nowhere to live do not need to phone for an appointment. You can visit the screening unit any week day from Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 4:00pm.

Go to the unit as early as possible to ensure there is enough time to complete the asylum screening process.

Phone for an Appointment at the Screening Unit

Asylum Screening Unit Appointments Line
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8196 4524
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 4:45pm
Friday: 9am to 4:30pm
Check the cost of phone call in the United Kingdom.

Note: The asylum screening unit does not offer any financial help for travel costs to or from the center.

They will call you back once you contact them by phone. They will then ask you a few simple questions about yourself and your family.

They will not ask why you are claiming asylum but it could be a 30 minute phone conversation. They will ask if you need asylum housing support. Let them know if you need an interpreter at your screening.

Note: Tell the appointment service if your situation changes before your appointment date (e.g. if you can no longer stay where you are living).

What Happens after Asylum Screening?

Lunar House Screening Unit for Asylum Seekers in the United KingdomThe case gets handed to a caseworker after you complete the screening process. At this point you will either:

  • Be given an asylum registration card (ARC) or standard acknowledgment letter (SAL).
  • Be detained.

The Home Office may not send an ARC straight away. If not, they will send an appointment letter instead which tells you what you should do next.

You may also receive a ‘preliminary information questionnaire’. You must fill it in and then return it before the deadline if you get one. The questionnaire contains the return address, phone number, and the deadline. Contact the Home Office asylum team if you are unable to fill in the form.

Note: Failing to return the preliminary information questionnaire by the deadline means the Home Office would assume you have already withdrawn your asylum claim.

Asylum Caseworker

Your caseworker will conduct an asylum screening interview with you. This part of the process helps them come to a decision about your application. Let your caseworker know if you have any special needs (e.g. for a disability or medication).

They will explain the rest of the asylum process to you and inform you what to do next. You must wait for an asylum decision but you will need to attend regular reporting meetings.

Note: Failing to attend your reporting meetings means you could get detained.

Asylum Registration Card

The ARC is proof that you applied for asylum in the United Kingdom. Remember to take your ARC or SAL with you any time:

  • You attend reporting meetings with your caseworker.
  • You collect asylum support money from a local Post Office.

Note: Those given a SAL will need to exchange it for the ARC within eight weeks. A letter will inform you where to exchange it.

Contact the Central Events Booking Unit if you do not get this information. You should call the Asylum Support and ARC appointments customer contact centre.

Migrant Help Centre
Telephone: 0808 800 0630
Monday to Friday: 9:30am to 3pm

Detention at Immigration Removal Centres

In some cases you may get detained at an immigration removal centre. It can happen while you wait for your application decision. In this case you will either:

  • Be released if you get permission to stay as a refugee in the United Kingdom.
  • Be held until you get removed from the UK for those who do not get permission to stay.

There are other reasons why you might get detained and removed. It can happen if they decide another country has the responsibility to offer you asylum.

Even so, in some situations you may be able to appeal appeal against a visa or immigration decision.

When Detention does not Take Place

As a rule you will not get detained at an immigration removal centre if you are:

  • A child, elderly, a family with children, or expecting a baby (pregnant).
  • Accepted as being a victim of human trafficking.
  • Able to provide some independent evidence of torture.
  • Suffering from an unmanageable mental or physical condition. The same applies if it presents a risk to other detained asylum seekers.


How to Apply for Asylum: A section with information on claiming asylum in the United Kingdom.
Asylum Screening Interview: Information on the asylum seeker interview and questioning process.
Decision Waiting Time: Your application usually gets decided within 6 following the interview.
Minor Applying for Asylum: A section for unaccompanied children who apply for asylum on their own.

Asylum How to Apply in the United Kingdom