Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

Assisting with the new asylum questionnaires: OISC Level 1 caseworkers and volunteers


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As well as guidance for individuals receiving the new asylum questionnaires under the streamlined process, Refugee Action has produced guidance for unregulated or OISC Level 1 caseworkers, and guidance for asylum volunteers. The aim of these guides is to assist those who have been approached by or who are working with individuals who have been issued questionnaires. 

You can read more in detail about what to do with the questionnaire, how to fill it in, what to be cautious of when asking a friend for help filling the questionnaire in, and how to find legal support here.  

For volunteers in particular, it is important to establish whether the individual that seeks your assistance is eligible for the streamlined process by asking them these four questions:

  1. Have you been given an asylum questionnaire to complete and return?
  2. Are you a national of Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria or Yemen?
  3. Did you apply for asylum before 28 June 2022?
  4. Where you an adult at the time you made your asylum claim?

If they can’t answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, the streamlined asylum process should not apply to them. This does not mean that they will not receive a questionnaire. There have been reports of questionnaires being sent to other nationalities.

If they are from another nationality but you have received a questionnaire, they should still respond to it or you risk having your claim treated as withdrawn, which is bad. Other aspects of the streamlined process may not apply to them though, including the possibility of a quicker decision, or a decision without an interview.

No matter their nationality, you can assist them in requesting an extension to complete their questionnaire.

If an individual or their legal representative has not received a questionnaire but they think they should have (for example if they have received a text message reminding them to fill one out), they can requesting a copy from: asylumcustomercommunicationshub@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Where someone has legal representation, that representative should help them complete and submit the questionnaire. Where that is not the case, there are several things that an unregulated adviser or OISC Level 1 adviser can help with.

You can assist them in requesting an extension to the 20 working day deadline to submit their questionnaire. This could include providing them with evidence of local legal aid capacity to support the extension request, where your capacity permits you to gather this information. You can also signpost or refer them to a local solicitor or regulated advisor whilst their extension request is being processed.

You can provide standard information (such as in the guidance documents from Refugee Action) on the questionnaire’s purpose. It is important to outline the consequences of ignoring the questionnaire or the deadline.

You can read the questionnaire in a language that they understand. And you can provide translations of any relevant supporting material the individual might be submitting with their questionnaire. You could assist with access to technology to complete the questionnaire and communicate with the Home Office.

However, you should not do the following:

  • Explain the meaning of questions with reference to facts about their life
  • Discuss what information is relevant to include, or how best to present it
  • Help them to identify inconsistencies and other matters that require further explanation

These actions require regulation at OISC Level 2.

It would also be extremely risky to provide assistance completing the form in English through translation activities, as this may lead to you doing one or more of the things listed above.

It is important that the questionnaires are filled out, preferably with the assistance of a regulated legal professional. It is equally important for you and for the individual to remember that the information included may be referred upon by the Home Office at a later time in the decision-making process and therefore you should be careful about what assistance you are providing.

With thanks to Refugee Action and the coordination of legal aid lawyers across the country to produce and disseminate FAQ’s and regular updates on the progress of questionnaires and Home Office activity.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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