You must apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee.
To be eligible you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you fear persecution.
Apply for a visa (external link) if you want to come to the UK for another reason (for example to work, study or remain with family). If you are already in the UK and want to remain with family living here, apply for a family of a settled person visa (external link).
You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.
After you apply you will have a meeting with an immigration officer (external link) (known as a ‘screening’) and then an asylum interview with a caseworker.
You will usually get a decision on your application within 6 months.
You can get up to 2 years in prison or have to leave the UK if you give false information on your application.
Waiting for your decision
You will be told after your screening what you must do while you are waiting for your asylum decision, for example report to a caseworker regularly (known as ‘reporting meetings’).
You must tell the authorities if your situation changes.
You will not usually be allowed to work while your asylum claim is being considered (external link).
Help you can get
You can get help with:
getting legal representation for your asylum claim
living in the UK while you wait for your decision
Children applying on their own
You can apply as a child on your own if you do not have an adult relative who is also claiming asylum.