Asylum Support

Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help provides advice and support to asylum seekers in a range of areas. Our service is for new asylum seekers and for those supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). We also provide guidance to asylum seekers who have been refused asylum and wish to make an application for continued support, and to those who require additional support because of exceptional circumstances.

Section 95 (NASS) Support

Section 95 support is provision of Home Office Accommodation and subsistence (financial) support through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) system. The NASS system also includes the provision of Healthcare and Education for children. New asylum seekers can avail of this support, if needed. It is also called NASS support and is provided if an asylum seeker meets specific Home Office destitution criteria.

A person is ‘destitute’ if they do not have adequate accommodation or enough money to meet living expenses for themselves and any dependents now or within the next 14 days. The Home Office will run credit and other checks to assess eligibility for support. While these checks are being undertaken, Initial Accommodation and financial assistance (£5 per day) are provided to asylum seekers who are destitute. This is known as Section 98 support.

Section 95 support can take the form of subsistence only (i.e. cash only support) if the asylum seeker has somewhere to stay pending their asylum claim. Most people require accommodation and subsistence support. Section 95 support is only available while asylum applicants are waiting for a final decision on their asylum claim.

At Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help, we assist in writing Section 95 support applications (ASF1) and sending them to the Home Office. The application is usually completed on the first day the asylum seeker arrives to our office and states a need for support. The Home Office usually takes 3-6 weeks to decide on Section 95 support. If the application is successful, the applicant will move from Initial Accommodation to Dispersal Accommodation (also called NASS Accommodation). People who claim asylum in Northern Ireland are accommodated in Belfast.

Accommodation is provided by the Home Office under the COMPASS (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services) contract. In Northern Ireland NASS Accommodation is provided by the service company, Serco, on behalf of the Home Office, and administered through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), in the private rental sector.

The level of cash support provided is a fixed rate which is significantly lower than income support levels. It is currently £36.95 per week per person (from July 2016 adults and children now receive the same). New asylum applicants moving on to Section 95 support will receive a prepaid Aspen payment card, which can be used to purchase essential items and collect their weekly allowance. It is issued at Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We are also the main point of contact should the Aspen card be damaged, lost, stolen or payment issues are identified.

Section 4 Support

Some people whose asylum applications have been refused are detained and removed from the country, but others may not be. In such cases, they may be eligible for short-term support.

If an asylum seeker’s claim has been refused and any appeal has been fully determined, they will not be eligible for Section 95 support, but may be eligible for Section 4 support. This is short-term support provision of emergency accommodation and non-cash allowance. It is issued while the asylum seeker is preparing to return to their country of origin or because specific reasons exist which mean they are unable to return home.

Strict requirements must be met to qualify for Section 4 support. The applicant must be destitute and satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • All reasonable steps are being taken to leave the UK or you are placing yourself in a position where you can do so; or
  • You or a family member cannot leave the UK because of a physical impediment to travel or for some other medical reason; or
  • You cannot leave the UK because, in the Secretary of State’s opinion, no viable route of return is currently available; or
  • You have applied for a judicial review of your asylum application and have been given permission to proceed with it; or
  • Accommodation is necessary to prevent a breach of your rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998.

A legal representative should be able to assist if a refused asylum seeker has new evidence available explaining why they cannot return home. Advice and guidance is also available via Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We will assist with the completion of an application for Section 4 support.

The following information is required (if applicable) before a Section 4 Subsistence and Accommodation application can be made:

  • Proof of fresh claim submitted (this needs to have been accepted by the Home Office)
  • Proof of Assisted for Voluntary Return (AVR)
  • Medical evidence for being unable to travel due to medical reasons, e.g. MATB1
  • Proof of Judicial Review
  • Evidence of no viable route to home country 
    • any one of the above could trigger access to Section 4 support
  • Destitution letter – A letter confirming destitution which may be from the person you are staying with who can no longer provide support or may be from someone you previously lived with and who supported you. This must be signed, dated and addressed. It may also be a personal statement from yourself if you have stayed with multiple friends, for example. All addresses will be required and any gaps explained
  • 6 months bank statements of all accounts held
  • Details of how you have supported yourself since your last support stopped
  • Letters from friends/family/charities that have supported you in the past and are now no longer able to (in addition to the destitution letter from the last place of residence)
  • P45 and 5 recent payslips if applicable
  • Original Birth Certificate of children.

Section 4 support is different from the support which may have been receiving during the asylum claim (Section 95 support). It includes non-cash entitlement of £35.39, given in the form of an Aspen payment card.
This card can be used in all retail outlets which accept Visa, and for the purchase of specific items (usch as food, essential toiletries, clothing and credit for mobile phones).

Section 96 Support

Section 96 support is an additional payment option for asylum seekers who experience ‘exceptional’ circumstances or need and are currently in receipt of Section 95 support. To qualify for Section 96 support, applicants must evidence that their circumstances or needs are indeed exceptional, and that additional costs incur because that need cannot be met under their current Section 95 payment.

Needs which can be met under Section 96 are those for accommodation or for ‘essential living’ only. If it is considered that further support is necessary, this may be provided in a variety of ways, including:

  • in cash
  • in kind
  • by changes to accommodation arrangements
  • by changes to other arrangements.

Supported persons who believe, because of their particular circumstances, they have a need for further support, must apply using an application form (ASF2) setting out:

  • the details of their need
  • the details of their particular circumstances
  • the details of the further support needed
  • its cost
  • its likely duration

Documentary evidence must be provided wherever possible to support the application. Applications for Section 96 support are made through Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We will assist in completing an ASF2 application form and advise on the necessary documentary evidence required.

Additional Support

At Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help we also assist with guidance and applications for support in the following areas:

Maternity payments: A single, one-off maternity payment may be provided to new mothers receiving asylum support to help with the costs arising from the birth of a new baby. The application must be made in writing no earlier than eight weeks before the baby is born or six weeks after the baby is born. We can make this application on the person’s behalf.

  • The application must include evidence of the date of expected birth (MATB1 form), or the child’s full birth certificate. Payment should be made to the value of £300 per child, so if twins are due, £600 will be paid.
  • If the applicant is receiving Section 4 support, payment of £250 per child may be requested.

Children aged under three years: All women who are receiving asylum support and who are pregnant or have children under three years of age are entitled to additional payments.

  • An additional £5 a week is available for babies under the age of one.
  • Pregnant women and children between one and three years are entitled to an additional £3 per week on top of their basic asylum support cash payment.

Change of circumstances: The Home Office must be notified if an asylum seeker experiences a change of circumstances regarding themselves or their dependents. These changes may influence entitlement of support. We will assist in informing or applying to the Home Office on their behalf. Change of circumstances may include:

  • A chance of name
  • Receiving or gaining access to money that has not been previously mentioned
  • Moving to a different address
  • Being hospitalised
  • Getting married, divorced, separated
  • Forming a civil partnership or deciding to live with a partner
  • Becoming pregnant or having a child
  • Being imprisoned
  • Anyone else joining or leaving NASS Accommodation
  •  Any other family member joining or leaving in the UK.