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

Permission to work for fresh asylum claimants


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

I recently wrote a post on fresh claims for asylum explaining what they are and summarising the criteria. New on this subject this week is ZO (Somalia) v SSHD [2009] EWCA Civ 442, in which the Court of Appeal holds that the same law on permission to work that applies to initial claims for asylum also applies to second or subsequent claims for asylum by the same person.

The Court of Appeal finds that the EC Reception Directive provides a right to work if an asylum claim is outstanding with the Home Office for more than a year. Time waiting for completion of an appeal does not count, it has to be a Home Office delay. The Court decides that there is nothing in the Directive to suggest that the rule does not apply to later claims for asylum, and that such an application need not have been found by the Home Office to be a ‘fresh claim’ within the meaning of immigration rule 353: a one year delay on a second or subsequent application for asylum is sufficient to trigger the right to work in the Directive.

Right to workThe case is a follow up to the earlier case of Tekle, covered on the blog back in December 2008. I warned then that this does not automatically mean the right to work for Legacy cases, but as explained below this new case is a little different. The Home Office may pursue an appeal to the House of Lords, and even if they do not their appalling record at implementing judgments they lose suggests a long wait before anyone gets given permission to work in a form that would be accepted by an employer.

In fact, ZO (Somalia) is now the law unless overturned. It rather appears that anyone who can prove they made an asylum application to the Home Office — including a second or subsequent claim — and has been waiting for over a year for a decision now has the right to work in the UK. This must apply to thousands of people given the atrocious delays at the Home Office and the whole five year Legacy clearance exercise. It is arguable that the right to work is automatically imparted to them by the Reception Directive and European Community law. It is not something that the Home Office can grant or refuse, although the Home Office is obliged to decide the conditions for entry to the labour market. Nevertheless, the practical reality is that any person without a piece of paper from the Home Office to prove they have a right to work will have difficulty persuading an employer to give them a job.

If you are in this position, I’d suggest getting legal advice about your situation.

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Free Movement

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


3 Responses

  1. Excerpt from the ZO(somalia) judgement:

    Article 11 provides for entitlement to seek employment:

    3. Access to the labour market shall not be withdrawn during appeals procedures, where an appeal against a negative decision in a regular procedure has suspensive effect, until such time as a negative decision on the appeal is notified.

    Is the HO interpretation of the above correct? The HO would take away permission to work from asylum seeker when the normal appeal process is finished (refusal of asylum from HO and then appeals). However, some people applied for ILR under the HO one-off family amnesty and had JR pending at the time when HO took away their work permissions and also some had a HR claim (pre Human Rights Act refusals) pending to be decided by the HO, and their permissions were still taken away. I would see the above applications as related to the asylum claim and those that have suspensive effect?

    Also, what’s happening with Tekle case? The HO has not announced their change of policy yet and it’s more than 3 months since the decision now.

    1. I’m not going into your detailed first query, but Article 11 looks fairly clear in this respect. Once an application and appeal is no longer pending, there’s no obligation for permission to work to be continued. As to Tekle, the ZO (Somalia) case IS the Tekle appeal, but with additional parties.