25 Sep New asylum process and withdrawal of claim
Question to Home Office
The guidance I am referring to states claimants who fail to complete an asylum questionnaire as requested within the time frame agreed without reasonable explanation may have their asylum claim treated as withdrawn under para 333C.
We receive many calls from asylum seekers without solicitors, who are unable to obtain a legal aid solicitor and are in limbo as they also cannot afford a private client solicitor. These new rules on the withdrawal of asylum claims will continue to impact such individuals heavily.
Does para 333C apply to the PIQ only?
Is para 333C operating in all live asylum cases, or is there a date from which it applies?
Is the PIQ to be served on all clients and their representatives if appointed at a screening only, or can it be issued post screening?
Are the Home Office aware that many clients are finding it difficult to instruct a legal aid solicitor and will not be a position to complete the questionnaire in a timely fashion. If there are attempts made by the caseworkers to remind applicants to complete these steps, what does this looks like? For example, is contact made by telephone or email? Are any accommodations made for those who do not speak English i.e. an interpreter or have disabilities affecting their ability to read?
If applicants that are unable access legal aid solicitors make their requests in written form, are you sending theses requests in their native language too, as they will not have access to interpreters to help them understand the consequences of their failure to comply with para 333C which may lead to the unexpected withdrawal of their claim.
Is it compulsory to complete the One Stop Notice as it asks that an applicant’s additional reasons for remaining in the UK be brought to the attention of SSHD, but in most instances these will be known to the SSHD from the screening interview.
Reply from Home Office
Thank you for your letter of 07 July 2023 about regarding your client’s claim for asylum and the processes applicable to your client. A Preliminary Information Questionnaire (PIQ) is a document that is available on Preliminary information questionnaire for asylum claims – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), however it is no longer issued to claimants as a matter of course. It is not mandatory to complete a PIQ, although asylum claimants have the option to submit a completed PIQ to the Home Office., Asylum decision-makers carefully consider each claimant’s protection needs by assessing all the evidence provided by the claimant in light of published country information guidance. An asylum claim will not be withdrawn solely if a PIQ is not submitted.
The Home Office, in certain circumstances, has been requesting claimants to complete an Asylum Claim Questionnaire (ACQ) in order for them to provide information about their asylum claim to help make decisions more efficiently and omit interviews where there is sufficient information to grant protection status. If a claimant is one of the eligible cohorts to receive a questionnaire, then they will receive specific correspondence with instructions on how to complete this. ACQ are in English, as is generally the case for immigration paperwork across the Department. Claimants issued an ACQ have 30-working days to return this questionnaire. Instructions explain how to complete the questionnaire and the consequences for failing to return it to the Home Office. Extensions can also be requested if required. Any explanations for non-return will be considered and asylum claims will not be withdrawn if there is a reasonable explanation. If an ACQ is not returned an asylum claim may be treated as withdrawn under Paragraph 333C of the Immigration Rules. For further information, please see the Withdrawing Asylum Claims guidance. Withdrawing asylum claims (publishing.service.gov.uk) During their screening interview claimants are served with an IS 75.
The section 120 notice is in the IS 75. Where a person is served a section 120 notice under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, section 120 (2) requires them to provide a statement setting out (a) the person’s reasons for wishing to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, (b) any grounds on which the person should be permitted to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, and (c) any grounds on which the person should not be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom A statement under section 120 does not need to repeat reasons or grounds already set out in a protection or human rights claim. Where a section 120 notice has been served, 120 (5) states that where a person’s circumstances have changed the person must as soon as reasonably practicable, provide a supplementary statement setting out the new circumstances and the additional reasons or grounds. Where a claim or application is made after the service of the section 120 notice that should have been, but has not been raised under 120 (2) or (5) and in the opinion of the Secretary of State or immigration officer there is no satisfactory reason for the ground not having been raised earlier, the claim may be certified under section 96 which prevents an appeal under section 82 from being brought. For further details on certification see Late claims: certification under section 96 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 late claims, certification under section 96 (publishing.service.gov.uk)
If sufficient information is available from sources such as an ACQ, PIQ or section 120 notice, decision makers may be able to make a positive asylum decision without conducting a substantive interview in line with Paragraph 339NA of the Immigration Rules.
PEO Home Office 16 /08/2023