UNHCR response and recommendations to UK asylum proposals

Proposals by the UK to overhaul its asylum system risk breaching international legal commitments, undermining global refugee cooperation and triggering damaging effects on asylum-seekers who arrive irregularly. 

UNHCR has published a legal opinion, drawn up after examining the government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’ presented 24 March, and  included in the May 11 Queen’s Speech.

Read: UNHCR Observations on the New Plan for Immigration policy statement of the Government of the United Kingdom


UNHCR recommends states have well designed, fair and fast claims procedures. UNHCR has made initial proposals to the UK to improve its system, drawing on best practice, including simplified processing. Greater investment upfront could address issues identified in the plan, for example around appeals and backlogs. Asylum applicants arriving irregularly without legitimate claims and no other legal residency options should be assisted to return home. Such returns are complex and require concerted international cooperation.

“It is entirely possible for the UK to protect its borders, and security, while implementing fair, humane and efficient policies towards asylum-seekers in line with the 1951 Convention. These are not mutually exclusive.”

Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR Representative in the UK