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Share of successful asylum claims reach a 30-year high, new Home Office data reveal

26 May 2022

The proportion of asylum seekers receiving a positive decision on their application reached 75% in the year ending March 2022, showing that the government determines a large majority of people who arrive in the UK and claim asylum to be refugees with valid claims for protection, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today. 

The data show that 76% of asylum claims among young men aged 18-29—a group often singled out in policy discussions—were also positive in the year ending March 2022.  

Data released today also showed that the UK’s asylum backlog has continued to grow, reaching almost 110,000 people at the end of March 2022. The backlog has been driven both by a decline in the number of decisions in 2020 and 2021 and an increase in applications, particularly during the summer of 2021.  

Dr Peter William Walsh, Senior Researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “The government has recognised three quarters of asylum applications as valid over the last year. This is a significant shift compared to a few years ago, when the majority of asylum applications were initially refused (even if many of these were later overturned on appeal). We now see majorities of positive decisions across a range of groups, from young men to older women. This highlights that policies targeting asylum seekers will inevitably affect some people who would be granted refugee status if their claim was processed in the UK”.  

The increase in the success rate for asylum applicants comes at a time when the Government is implementing a range of policies designed to deter them from seeking protection in the UK.  

New data also showed that 123,000 British National Overseas (BNO) status holders have applied under the scheme launched in January 2021 that allows them to live and work in the UK. In the first quarter of 2022, 19,500 BNO status holders applied, which is larger than the number of asylum seekers in that quarter (15,450). 

By the 24th May, 136,000 people had applied to one of the Ukraine visa schemes, of whom 115,00 had received visas and 60,000 had arrived in the UK. 

The post-Brexit immigration system continued not to attract substantial numbers of EU citizens in the first quarter of 2022. Only 7% of skilled work visa applications were from EU citizens. The share was particularly low for health and social care roles (1%).  

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “So far, the post-Brexit system has not attracted many EU citizens. The new system is much more restrictive than free movement and many low-wage roles are not eligible. But we also see low take-up of skilled work visas, which suggests that applicants are perhaps being deterred by the costs and bureaucracy these visas require.” 


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