Wed | Mar 29, 2017

I'm feeling uncomfortable

Published:Tuesday | September 9, 2014 | 9:00 AM
John Bassie
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Dear Mr Bassie,

I am seeking asylum in the United Kingdom and have been put in temporary accommodation, which has now become uncomfortable. I would like to be relocated but am afraid to mention this to the authorities as I would not like this to prejudice my case in any way. I would like to know under what circumstances could I possibly request to be moved and be successful.

- SY

Dear SY,

It is possible that an asylum seeker accommodated in asylum-support accommodation may ask to be moved to alternative accommodation. In order to qualify, applicants must be residing in initial, dispersal or spot-booked accommodation, and the request must be made in writing and signed by the applicant.

It should be noted that relocation is not normally permitted, except in exceptional circumstances. Usually, cases such as these are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In deciding whether to permit a change of address, the caseworker will use his/her discretion in deciding whether compelling or exceptional circumstances exist for a relocation. In reaching their decisions, caseworkers must have regard to the desirability of providing accommodation in areas where there is a ready supply of accommodation.

I will mention a few possible considerations that might be accepted, but these are not exhaustive. The applicant may, for instance, have close family ties in another area. Normally, such ties should have been mentioned in the applicant's support claim, and the applicant should provide supporting documentation. The caseworker should assess the evidence that has been submitted on a case-by-case basis.

Another area that may be considered is an applicant receiving medical treatment in a specific area/medical institution and relocation may be reasonable or the applicant may not be able to obtain the treatment he/she receives in another part of the country. The caseworker should consider the evidence provided before reaching a decision. In such a case, it may be necessary to forward evidence to the medical adviser for an assessment to be made as to the need for relocation.

Other scenarios may include where the applicant or his/her dependant have committed or been subject to domestic violence, racial harassment, public harassment or anti-social behaviour. In these cases, the caseworker will need to decide whether the case should be investigated by an investigations officer before reaching a decision as to whether the applicant should be relocated.

In such cases, the caseworker must contact the asylum-teams investigations officer who will investigate the case and make recommendations based on their investigation. The caseworker should carefully consider the recommendations of the police and investigations officer which may be to relocate the main applicant or dependent.

POSSIBLE SPLIT

If the family is to be split up, the caseworker will need to make it clear to dependants that they will not be eligible for asylum support unless they make an application for asylum in his/her own right. Where the applicant is being anti-social towards other asylum seekers on the same property, the caseworker must decide whether to refer the case to the asylum teams investigations officer, who will investigate the case and recommend the action that should be taken. The caseworker should take careful account of the recommendations made by the investigations officer in reaching a decision about what action should be taken.

It is possible that, given the findings, as it may relate to a case, the applicant may have to be moved urgently.

As previously stated, there may be other scenarios that a change of address/accommodation might be allowed.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email lawbassie@yahoo.com