How Will Brexit Affect Asylum Law?

The date of Brexit is aimed to be the 31st October 2019, whether a deal is negotiated or not. If the government successfully agree on a deal, then there will be a transition period. This means that the UK will not leave the EU immediately, but that nothing will change, during this time the UK will be able to slowly transition out of the EU. This will allow European migrants who want to establish themselves in the UK, to do so before the end of this period. So far, the transition period is set to continue until 31st December 2021.

On the other hand, in the case of a no deal Brexit, the UK will leave the EU automatically on the 31st October 2019. In accordance with the Benn Act, if Parliament have not agreed on a deal by the 19th October 2019, then the Prime Minister will have to write to the European Council to seek an extension to the 31st January 2020. This Act simply delays the leaving date, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has implied that he will not comply with this Act.

How will Brexit affect Asylum law?

The basis for Asylum law is a combination of domestic, European and International legislation; but it is primarily based on International law. Therefore, conventions such as the 1951 Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights, will not be affected. A regulation that will be affected is the Dublin Regulation.

The Dublin Regulation is a European Union Law that establishes which EU Member State is responsible to examine and process the application for an individual claiming asylum. According to this Regulation, an asylum seeker must have their application processed in the first European country they were registered in. This means that the UK could legally return this individual to whichever European country they first passed through, for them to deal with the process and the paperwork. The UK government has so far been relying on this regulation a great deal. A no-deal Brexit will result in the UK no longer being able to rely on this regulation. The Home Office will now be required to process each individual claim for each Asylum seeker, rather than being able to legally return applicants to other countries.

This will also have consequences for Asylum Seekers in the UK. Whilst an Asylum application is being processed, the Applicant cannot work and has to wait for the decision; and waiting times can be as long as 6 months. The Government therefore provides Asylum seekers awaiting a decision, with a weekly allowance of £37.75. If an applicant is awaiting the result for more than 12 months, they can apply for a job role on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, which is a list of skilled roles that the UK is unable to fill with UK citizens. With the number of Asylum seekers in the UK increasing, and with the UK no longer able to send these migrants to another EU member state, this allowance and the availability of occupations will undoubtedly decrease. This will gravely affect the conditions these applicants will be living in.

Overall, Brexit appears that it will have a negative effect on the UK government in terms of Asylum regulations.