Permission to work & Volunteering for asylum seekers

Those who claim asylum in the UK are not normally allowed to work whilst their claim is being considered. They are instead provided with accommodation and support to meet their essential living needs if they would otherwise be destitute.

The Home Office may grant permission to work in accordance with this policy to asylum seekers whose claim has been outstanding for more than 12 months through no fault of their own. Those who are allowed to work are restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list published by the Home Office. Any permission to work granted will come to an end if their claim is refused and any appeals rights are exhausted because at that point they are expected to leave the UK. Those who are granted leave have unrestricted access to the labour market.

Asylum seekers are encouraged to volunteer whilst their claim is being considered. Volunteering involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives. By volunteering for a charity or public sector organisation asylum seekers can support their local community, and this will also assist with their integration if they are granted leave to remain in the UK.

Applications for permission to work by asylum seekers awaiting an initial decision only need to be considered where a decision by the Home Office on their asylum claim is still pending and has been outstanding for more than 12 months. This requirement is set out in Part 11 B ofthe Immigration Rules in Paragraph 360. Following the Supreme Court judgment in ZO (SomalIa) [2010] UKSC 36 the Rules were amended on 9 September 2010 so that failed asylum seekers whose further submissions have been outstanding for more than 12 months can also apply for permission to work.

Newly issued guidance ( V7) with effect from 12th January is updated to include reference to criminality and delay ( pg 8 ) when considering permission to work applications and clarity on what is required when making an application with updated information about the difference between working for a voluntary organisation and volunteering to make it clearer that asylum seekers are able to volunteer ( pg 13 ) .