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Immigration Corner | A stateless person can apply to stay in the UK

Published:Tuesday | March 16, 2021 | 12:12 AM
John Bassie
John Bassie
John Bassie
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I would like to know who is considered a stateless person and can such a person apply to stay in the United Kingdom?

– F.Z.

Dear F.Z.,

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, establishes the legal definition for stateless persons as ‘individuals who are not considered citizens or nationals under the operation of the laws of any country’.

A person’s citizenship and nationality may be determined based on the laws of a country where an individual is born or where his/her parents were born. A person can also lose citizenship and nationality in a number of ways, including when a country ceases to exist, or a country adopts nationality laws that discriminate against certain groups.

Persons can apply to stay in the United Kingdom as a stateless person if both of the following apply:

• He/she is not recognised as a citizen of any country;

• He/she is unable to live permanently in any other country.

However, persons must currently be in the United Kingdom to apply. If they cannot return to another country because they fear persecution there, they should claim asylum first.

Persons who have already claimed asylum or have an outstanding human-rights claim, must wait until they have a decision. They can apply to stay as a stateless person if it is refused.

leave to remain

Persons can normally stay in the United Kingdom for five years if they are given permission to stay and this is known as ‘leave to remain’. Please note that persons can apply for settlement, or further leave, when the leave expires.

Persons must include their partner and children under 18 (their ‘dependents’) in the application if they are already in the United Kingdom with them. If they are outside the United Kingdom, they can apply for permission to go to the United Kingdom (‘entry clearance’) once the application has been approved.

Persons must provide the following documents, if they have them, for themself and their dependents:

• Current passports and other travel documents, such as visas;

• Official letters confirming their immigration status (with the reference number ASL.2150, ASL.2151 or ASL.2152);

• Birth certificates;

• Marriage certificates.

They will also need to provide as many documents as they can to prove that they are stateless. They should also provide documents for their dependents as well if they are stateless.

These can include:

• Identity, immigration and travel documents;

• Documents that prove where they lived before going to the United Kingdom; for example, school certificates, medical records or sworn statements from neighbours;

• Documents from their applications for citizenship or requests for proof of nationality in other countries.

If persons think that they have the right to live in a country that is not the United Kingdom, they will also need to show that they have tried to get nationality of that country.

Persons should read the application form for a full list of documents that they can provide. Persons must apply online, and it does not cost anything to apply. Persons will be asked to make an appointment at a Service and Support Centre to provide their biometric information, that is their fingerprints and a photograph, and have their supporting documents checked.


Please note that persons may be able to get housing and money to support themselves and their families while they are waiting to find out if they will be given leave to remain.

Just for completeness, it should be noted that persons can appeal the decision if their application is refused. Those persons can ask for an administrative review if they are not given leave to remain.

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