There have been and will continue to be changes to the way that services for asylum seekers and refugees are running due to Corona Virus (Covid-19).
We will keep this page updated with information as and when new updates become available.
For information and updates about the organisations offering support in Newcastle please see resources page.
For information about how services can redesign and deliver services during the Covid-19 outbreak please see Refugee Action Coronavirus handbook.
Home Office Services:
Asylum Accommodation and Support:
On 27th March 2020 the Home Office announced that it would not ask people to leave asylum accommodation, or end their asylum support. This applied to people who are granted status, and to those that are refused.
Update August 2020: Those who have received a positive asylum decision will now be required to Move-on from asylum accommodation and asylum support. Anyone in Newcastle who has received a positive decision should contact YHN Move-on team for support.
ASAP produced a new factsheet setting out changes in eligibility for asylum support as a result of covid-19, in particular for Section 4 for people who do not have fresh claims. Read more about this here.
On the 15th June the Home Office confirmed that they plan to resume substantive interviews from the end of June 2020 using existing Video Conferencing facilities in Home Office (UKVI) buildings and VFS (the company that runs some of the Video Conferencing facilities); some of the interviewing officers will be working from home but they can make use of Home Office technology. The resumption of substantive interviews will be rolled out in three phases and eventually the Home Office intends to return to pre Covid-19 practice.
Some reporting centres will re-open from 20 July for limited hours, outside of peak travel times. People will get a text message, email or letter when with information about their new reporting date. Further details can be found here.
Anyone who has been advised to self-isolate or is demonstrating symptoms of Corona Virus or indeed any other communicable disease should not be reporting even if they are asked to do so by text.
Further Submissions / Fresh Claims:
The Home Office have confirmed that they have suspended the requirement to attend the Further Submissions Unit in Liverpool in order to lodge a further submission.
It is now possible to send further submissions by post or email
Further Submissions Unit
The Capital Building
Old Hall Street
E-mail address: [email protected]
The Home Office have confirmed that they will be resuming Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR) from 13th July 2020. The AVR service had previously been put on hold due to Covid-19.
Individuals and families who are in the UK without leave and who wish to return home, are now able to contact the Voluntary Returns Service to discuss the support options available to them using the details below:
Telephone: 0300 0040 202 Opening hours 09:00-17:00
Online form: https://www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily
Mears Asylum Accommodation:
Mears are responsible for asylum accommodation and if you need to self-isolate, you need to contact your Mears Welfare Manager to discuss this and seek advice. You should also notify Migrant Help.
Any actions undertaken in relation to this should be fully explained by Mearns, ensuring that you understand the importance of self-isolation. Mears will use interpreters, where required.
If you are in self-isolation Mears should keep in regular contact and provide food; sanitary products; anti-bacterial cleaning products etc for the period of time you are expected to be self-isolated
NRPF and homelessness:
People with NRPF (no recourse to public funds) who are sleeping rough and are usually not eligible for housing assistance can request support from the Council to access appropriate accommodation. This is looked at on a case by case basis. Please contact the Housing Advice Centre for more information.
The Migrant Help free national phone line continues to operate as usual for asylum queries: 0808 8010 503
Migrant Help will gather as much information over the phone so that where face to face work is essential, it can be as short as possible. This is intended to reduce contact to a minimum and also provide adequate space for appropriate distancing.
Corona Virus Health Information:
There is information available about Coronavirus in different languages:
- Doctors of the World has translated the latest NHS guidance about Covid-19 into 49 languages.
- Public Health England also published Covid-19 guidance in different languages.
Health Care Charges:
There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of Corona Virus. This includes those living in the UK without permission who may have been refused asylum,
No charges will apply to testing for Corona Virus, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for Corona Virus if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
No immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for Corona Virus.