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Migrants and Refugees

Question for Home Office

UIN HL5374, tabled on 12 January 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their definition of (1) a refugee, and (2) a migrant; and what are the practical consequences of the distinction between them.

Answered on

26 January 2022

Refugee status is granted when an individual has a well-founded fear of persecution under the Refugee Convention. Those who are not in need of protection are required to leave the UK or apply for leave to remain on another basis.

Paragraph 334 of the Immigration Rules sets out the circumstances in which an asylum applicant will be granted Refugee Status in the UK. 334(ii) confirms that an individual must be a refugee as defined in regulation 2 of The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006.

The 2006 Regulations refer to individuals who fall within Article 1(A) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees done at Geneva on 28 July 1951 and the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967 and to whom regulation 7 (Exclusion) does not apply.

The Nationality and Borders Bill is aiming to make the definition of a refugee even clearer, improving the consistency of decisions across all decision makers (including the Courts).

The conditions of refugee leave which a person will be granted if they qualify for refugee status under the Immigration Rules is broadly five years’ limited leave, access to the labour market and welfare support, and a route to apply for settlement after five years.

The term migrant is not routinely used in legislation – it is more common to refer to “a person subject to immigration control”. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002A does include a definition of a migrant for the purposes of section 59(3)(a) being “a person who leaves the country where he lives hoping to settle in another country (whether or not he is a refugee within the meaning of any international Convention)”. However, that definition is used in a specific context and not more broadly in terms of legislation.

In practical terms, an individual subject to immigration control requires specific permission to stay in the UK and will usually be subject to conditions attached to that permission. These conditions vary depending on the type of leave for which an individual applies.

Answered by

Home Office