Who is a Refugee?

The definition of a refugee has varied according to time and place, but increased international concern for the plight of refugees has lead to a general consensus as defined in the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. As described in the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is defined as a person who:-

“owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country or return there because there is a fear of persecution…”

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, was the first international law to define the term ‘refugee’, and to outline how refugees should be treated.

It was drafted in response to the horrors of the Holocaust, when fleeing Jewish refugees were denied asylum by many countries, and because of the millions of people who became refugees in Europe during and after World War II.
One hundred and thirty four countries signed the agreement stating that anyone, from anywhere, who is forced to flee persecution in their own country will have their claim to asylum heard fairly, and receive protection if they need it.

Who is an Asylum Seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has lodged an application for protection on the basis of the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the Status of refugees or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

What’s the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

An asylum seeker is someone who has asked the British government for protection under international law and has not had a decision on their case yet. A refugee is someone who has proven that they need protection under international law and the government has granted them refugee status in Britain.

Internally Displaced Person

If someone has fled their home in fear of their life but has not crossed the borders of their country, they are known as an ‘internally displaced person’

To be acknowledged as Refugee, the reasons for persecution must be because of one of the five grounds listed in article 1 A(2) of the Refugee Convention: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Persecution based on any other ground will not lead to a grant of Refugee status but may lead to other types of permission to stay in the UK being granted by the Home Office.

Race is used in the broadest sense and includes ethnic groups and social groups of common descent.

Religion also has a broad meaning, including identification with a group that tends to share common traditions or beliefs, as well as the active practice of religion.

Nationality includes an individual’s citizenship. Persecution of ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups within a population also may be termed persecution based on nationality.

A particular social group refers to people who share a similar background, habits or social status. This category often overlaps with persecution based on one of the other four grounds. It has applied to families of capitalists, landowners, homosexuals, entrepreneurs and former members of the military.

Political opinion refers to ideas not tolerated by the authorities, including opinions critical of government policies and methods. It includes opinions attributed to individuals (i.e., the authorities think a person has a certain political opinion) even if the individual does not in fact hold that opinion.

Individuals who conceal their political opinions until after they have fled their countries may qualify for refugee status if they can show that their views are likely to subject them to persecution if they return home.

If you have come to the United Kingdom and you fear returning to your Country for a reason described above, we can assist you to prepare your claim for Asylum in the UK.


We always begin by ensuring that you are aware of the process and procedures for making a claim for Asylum in the UK We are aware from our vast experience of dealing with clients who have made a claim for Asylum from many countries all over the world how important it is to understand the way in which the Home Office will assess your claim.

We can guide and support you through each stage of your claim for Asylum in the UK and we can advise you on what documents and/or any other evidence you would wish to rely on to prove your claim to the Home Office. This will help to ensure that the Home Office have the full facts of the basis of your claim for Asylum in the UK.

In some instances, we can attend your interview with your caseworker at the Home Office and we can also ensure that your documents and/or other evidence that you may have are translated from any language into English. This will ensure that your caseworker at the Home Office is fully able to understand the basis of your claim for Asylum in the UK.

We can also make legal representations to the Home Office on your behalf setting out the facts of what is happening in the Country from which you have fled or fear returning to based on our vast experience and knowledge of world events as they effect the displacement of people and/or the persecution you may be subjected to upon your return.

Our staff speak a wide range of languages and are skilled and experienced at dealing with clients who are frightened and traumatised by their experience and fears.

We also offer women only appointments if you prefer to be advised by a female.

We will continue to advise and support you until the Home Office has made their decision on whether you should be granted Asylum, Humanitarian Protection or Discretional Leave allowing you to remain in the UK.

If the Home Office decides to refuse your claim for Asylum in the UK, we can appeal on your behalf to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber and we can represent you in your appeal before the Courts.

In the event that your application for Asylum is refused by the Home Office , then don’t despair, our services and expertise can extend beyond the initial decision made by the Home Office or Entry Clearance post of the British High Commission.

We can continue to assist and support you and advocate on your behalf in the various Courts and specialist Immigration Tribunals up to and including the European Court of Human Rights as set out below:

  • Immigration appeals, including appeals against decisions to refuse entry, refuse asylum or deport someone from the UK
  • Challenges in the High Court (judicial review)
  • Challenges in the Court of Appeal
  • Challenges in the European Court of Human Rights

We hold an Asylum Legal Aid contract and we are therefore able to offer Legal Aid to clients who are eligible and for those clients who are not entitled to Legal Aid we offer fixed fee packages as an affordable alternative.

For your convenience we provide a free initial consultation to enable us to assess your eligibility for legal aid and provide you with an affordable alternative where legal aid is not available.