Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Introduction to Immigration Status

Many different terms are used when discussing migrants. This page outlines the key status definitions referred to.

Last updated

on 15.03.2018

  1. Everyone in England is entitled to free primary care, regardless of immigration status
  2. Asylum seekers and refugees are entitled to free secondary care, others are charged
  3. Understanding these terms can help doctors advocate for their patients

A refugee:

  • someone who has a “well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion,” and it is not safe for them to return to their country of origin
  • The UK government will grant refugees and their dependents asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection.
  • new refugees often do not have any proof of ID, and they may be living in temporary accommodation or with friends so don’t have proof of address

An asylum seeker:

  • someone who has made a claim for protection on the basis of the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights and is waiting for the outcome of their claim
  • often live in temporary accommodation or with friends so don’t have proof of address
  • they also might not have any proof of ID because it was lost during a gruelling journey or has been sent to the Home Office as part of their asylum application.

A refused asylum seeker:

  • someone whose asylum application has been unsuccessful
  • some refused asylum seekers voluntarily return home, others are forcibly returned and for some it is not safe or practical for them to return until conditions in their country change
  • many refused asylum seekers are destitute so do not have a fixed address or proof of address
  • they are at high risk of immigration enforcement and may not want to provide their address

An undocumented migrant: