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This fact was correct when it was created on 10 Sep 2021

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has formally applied in a country other than their own for protection from persecution and human rights violations. They have not yet been legally recognised as a refugee – rather they are waiting for a decision to be made on whether to grant them refugee status. 

It is a human right to ‘seek asylum’. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out that ‘everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’. It goes on to add that ‘this right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’.  

The UK’s asylum system has changed since it left the EU. You can read our explainer on the UK’s post-Brexit asylum system here

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