LONDON: In a letter, attorneys warned that the UK government’s plan to use unanswered questionnaires to withdraw asylum applications could cause a historic backlog of claims.


As reported by The Independent, almost 170 lawyers, experts, and refugee groups have signed a letter expressing concern that the Home Office may be inundated with new claims from previously rejected asylum seekers who fear losing government support as a result of the scheme.

About 12,000 asylum-seekers have been sent questionnaires to replace interviews under the new system, which aims to speed up processing. These individuals hail from Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Eritrea.

The Home Office has launched the program in an effort to reduce the growing backlog of asylum applications.

The survey has to be finished within 20 working days, and it has 50 questions about persecution and human trafficking.

“A failure to return the questionnaire without reasonable explanation may result in an individual’s asylum claim being withdrawn in accordance with the published policy on withdrawing asylum claims,” it says.

“This proposed plan of withdrawing claims will only give the appearance of reducing the backlog, whilst in fact adding to the backlog of fresh asylum claims being made,” the lawyers’ letter, coordinated by the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, warns.

We request that the government revise its strategy and make the necessary adjustments.

Also, it was stated that those who apply for asylum but fail to fill out the questionnaire run the risk of losing government housing and services and may even be deported.

CEO of the International Law and Policy Association Jonathan Griffin said, “While the government’s aim of speeding up decision-making for those with manifestly well-founded claims is welcome, we are deeply concerned about the fairness of a process that requires a person without legal advice to respond to a long and complicated questionnaire, in English, in a short space of time, under threat of their asylum claim being withdrawn.”

“The questionnaire in its current form risks exacerbating the asylum backlog while jeopardizing the asylum claims of individuals unable to complete the form before the arbitrary deadline,” said Matilda Bryce, asylum policy and campaigns manager at the Freedom from Torture charity, which signed the letter.

A spokesperson for the Home Office stated that decisions regarding asylum requests would not be made based solely on the questionnaire.