Quick facts and figures about UK immigration and asylum

Unheard Voices has teamed up with a number of leading asylum and migration organisations to find the answers to frequently asked questions about asylum, refugees and the immigration system in the UK and the world.

Asylum Seeker Facts & Figures

  • Between 2002 & 2006 the UK received 4.3 asylum applications per 1,000 of its inhabitants. It rated sixteenth out of a list of fifty European and non-European industrialised countries. The figure of 4.3 was slightly above the average of 3.75 asylum applications per 1,000 inhabitants.


  • Europe as a whole only takes 19% of the world’s refugee population. Asia and Africa have accepted 45% and 30% respectively. The developing world bears the greatest burden in offering shelter to refugees. Iran and Pakistan between them have taken in over 4 million refugees.


  • Asylum seekers coming to the UK are not entitled to mainstream welfare benefits. A single person aged 25 or over who qualifies for support via the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) must survive on £41.41 per week, 30% below the official poverty line. If such a person received full-board accommodation from NASS then they would only get £10.00 per week.


  • Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the United Kingdom. A 2007 opinion poll carried out by ORB found that two thirds of UK adults supported giving asylum seekers and those overstaying their visa the possibility of working in order to support themselves.


  • By definition there is no such thing as an “illegal asylum seeker” or an “illegal refugee”. By signing the 1951 Convention on Refugees the UK must allow new arrivals the right to apply for asylum and to remain here until a final decision on their application is made.


Facts & Statistics from The Migrant Helpline and UNHCR, Human Rights Watch, European Council on Refugees & Exiles, Opinion Research Business.

Find out more about the asylum system from a former immigration solicitor here


About The Author

Multimedia Web & Video Journalist

I am a Multimedia Web and Video Journalist, enthusiastic mountain biker and lover of nature. I am passionate about communication and its power to improve a person's life. My dream is to expose injustice and give a voice to those who are largely ignored. I am the senior video journalist and director at multimedia production company Humbledinger, which I run with my husband, filmmaker Joe Bream. Joe and I spend our 'free' time making short documentaries and films that will give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

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