Aren’t most asylum claims fake?

I’ve been writing a little this week about asylum, responding particularly to arguments about the UK’s policy of removing asylum seekers arriving across the channel to Rwanda for processing. One of the assumptions I frequently hear is that the vast majority of claimants are not genuine that they are really economic migrants using the asylum system to jump the queue.

It’s worth observing that if they are jumping the queue that they’ve chosen a particularly bad way to go about it.  The reality is that many claimants will find themselves waiting a long time for a decision during which time they will receive a small living allowance and accommodation, hardly benefiting from our great economic bounty.

In any case, the Government’s own data shows that it simply isn’t true to claim that the vast  majority of applications are fake.  Rather, in 2021, 64% of applications were decided in favour of the asylum seeker at initial decision. This compares with 49% in 2020.  Remember that this is just at first hearing.  Many claimants go on to appeal with 48% of appeals being allowed in 2021.[1]

I’m cautious about using the language of “genuine v not genuine” to describe those people who have been through the process.  All we can say is that the majority eventually receive a positive decision in their favour. Those making the decision are fallible. However, far from the process being primarily abused by false claimants, the system tends to work against the claimant. Hence, even if someone fails in their claim, I’m reluctant to conclude that they were not genuine.  In my own experience, I’ve seen:

  • The Home Office attempt to return someone to their home country where this would put their child at risk of FGM.
  • Applicants advised that they could simply move to another part of their home country to be safe or to take their abuser to court when there are known problems with corruption and bribery among the police and judiciary.
  • Applicants informed that the UK accepts that they have faced torture, abuse, persecution, intimidation but that there is no reason to presume that their tormentors will still target them if they return.  It may be that those responsible have forgotten about them.
  • Applicants who profess Christian faith asked to prove this by answering questions which do not necessarily prove faith one way or another.
  • A lack of awareness that even if the person’s Christian faith is uncertain in terms of theological understanding that their very act of professing faith puts them at risk of persecution.

Therefore, many asylum seekers go through multiple appeals and re-applications and there is often a need to use Judicial Review to get the process reset.  Because of this, we cannot assume that they are not genuine claimants.

The actual data refute the claims of those who suggest that the majority of applicants are not genuine. This includes the Home Secretary who has claimed that 70% of those coming across the channel are false claimants.[2] Rather, the opposite is true. The majority of those seeking asylum have their claims accepted eventually.

[1] How many people do we grant asylum or protection to? – GOV.UK (

[2] Most people who risk Channel boat crossings are refugees – report | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian

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