Are you destitute and at the end of the asylum process?

Has the UK Border Agency (UKBA) refused your asylum application? Have you been unsuccessful with your asylum appeals? If you have been relying on support from the government - UK Border Agency (UKBA) - then UKBA will have stopped supporting you. When asylum seekers have no more appeal rights they are considered by the UKBA as former asylum seekers.

Normally, the authorities expect you to either leave the UK voluntarily, or they will make arrangements to remove you. If the UKBA cannot remove you from the UK immediately, you may find yourself without accommodation and financial support.

If this is the case, you may be able to apply to UKBA for a very limited support package known as ‘Section 4 support’. This support is mainly for former asylum seekers without children. Asylum seekers with children under 18 continue to be supported until they leave the UK. 

What is Section 4 support?

If you are eligible for Section 4 support, then UKBA will provide you with self-catering accommodation and ‘Azure’ card for your food and basic items such as toiletries. You will not receive any cash. Your weekly support will be loaded onto an Azure payment card. The Azure card can be used in certain shops including Asda and Tesco to buy essential items, for example food, toiletries, cleaning items. For more information about the Azure payment card see leaflet entitled ‘Section 4 support Azure payment card’ at:

It is very likely that you will have to share accommodation with others. If there are exceptional reasons why sharing would not be appropriate for you, these reasons should be put in writing to the UKBA.

What are the criteria for Section 4 support?

UKBA has very strict criteria for deciding whether to give you Section 4 support. The first of these conditions is that you are destitute, which means that you don’t have accommodation and/or the means to buy food. You will have to explain how you have been supporting yourself so far and will need to provide some evidence demonstrating this.

You must also show that you meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • You must be taking reasonable steps to leave the UK or you are placing yourself in a position where you can do so.
  • Or you are unable to leave the UK because of a physical impediment to travel to your country, for example illness or late pregnancy.
  • Or you have applied and been allowed to go to the High Court for judicial review to challenge the UKBA refusal of your asylum application. applied for judicial review. You may also have outstanding representations with the UKBA such as a fresh claim for asylum.
  • Or you are unable to travel because there is no safe route available to return. According to the UKBA, there is currently no country to which this argument applies. Your legal representative or a One Stop Service adviser will be able to tell you if this has changed.
  • Or that the provision of accommodation is necessary to avoid breaching your human rights. For example, if you submitted a fresh asylum application and the information on this application is different from your original application, Section 4 support should be granted.

UKBA considers the individual merits of each application for Section 4 support and will ask you to give documentary evidence as to why you are unable to return home or unable to travel. This could be a letter from a doctor stating why you are not able to travel or written proof that you have permission for judicial review at the High Court.

How do I apply for Section 4 support?

There are two application forms for asylum seekers applying for Section 4 support. Application forms for Section 4 support are available at your local One Stop Service and they will advise you which form to use and will help you to fill in the appropriate form. An Asylum Support Service adviser will send your application form to the UKBA for consideration and will inform you about the decision. They can also give you information about other support you may need, for example travel expenses for your journey from your accommodation to a reporting centre.

 Apart from an Asylum Support Service, your legal representative, local law centre, Citizens Advice or refugee community organisation may also be able to help you to apply for Section 4 support.

 Please note that you need to apply for Section 4 support as soon as you have received the letter from UKBA terminating your previous support.

You will need to sign the application form to confirm that you understand the terms and conditions of getting Section 4 support:

  • Section 4 support consists of basic accommodation.
  • UKBA will regularly review whether you still qualify for Section 4 support.
  • If you get Section 4 support and the authorities make a reasonable request for information from you, you will need to comply with such a request.

How long will I be supported under Section 4?

UKBA will regularly review your eligibility. They will check if your circumstances have changed and whether there are still barriers that prevent you from leaving the UK.

What if my application for Section 4 is unsuccessful?

If UKBA refuses your application for Section 4 support, you are entitled to appeal against the refusal and an Asylum Support Service will help you with that appeal. You will need to appeal within a very short time limit.

You can re-apply if your circumstances have changed since you last applied for Section 4 support. You should also be able to re-apply if you have new evidence to support your asylum application. UKBA will check whether you are in fact destitute and ask you how you managed to survive since your last application.

What other support is available?

If you have physical or learning difficulties, hearing or visual impairments, mental health problems or chronic ill health, then you should find out if you can get help from your local authority social services department. You or someone else on your behalf should ask the local authority social services department for a community care needs assessment.

If you are at the end of your asylum process with no further appeal rights, you have been refused Section 4 support, and you have no means of supporting yourself, you can seek help from charities. In some cases, local community organisations such as refugee or faith groups may provide hot meals, food parcels, toiletry items or clothing.


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