I have just got out of a lorry, what should I do?
Without a passport or legitimate travel documents, your only option for obtaining citizenship is to claim asylum. It will be in your favour to claim asylum as soon as possible.
Whilst it is good to try and get a solicitor to represent you in the earliest instance, the priority is claiming asylum as soon as you can. Not claiming asylum soon after arriving to the UK can have a negative effect on your asylum claim. The Home Office will want to know where you have been staying since you have arrived.
When you get out of the lorry, try and establish where in the UK you are. You may be able to do this by looking at maps on your phone, or asking someone nearby. If you ask someone where you are, they may notify the police about you.
You could say something like:
“Excuse me. I don’t know where I am. Please could you tell me what area we are in?”
Then, to make an asylum claim, you will need to telephone the Home Office Screening Unit in Croydon, London. The number is 020 8196 4524. Calls cost 3-55p per minute. You will need to have a screening interview there.
The Screening Unit in Croydon may tell you to go to a police station first. You can find your nearest police station online https://www.met.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/find-a-police-station/ or by asking someone you see.
You could say something like:
“Hello. Where is the nearest police station?”
You may be picked up by an Enforcement Team, who may take you to a police station. The police may then signpost you to the Screening Unit in Croydon for your screening interview.
The interview can take up to four hours. Right to Remain have good advice page on what the screening interview will entail, https://righttoremain.org.uk/toolkit/screening/ it may be available in your native language. It is important to keep your story consistent between this screening interview and further discussions with the Home Office.
The Home Office interviewer will take notes on a screening interview form during the interview. It is very important that you get a copy of this screening interview record.
RISK OF DETENTION
As a person seeking asylum, you are liable to be detained at any point during this process. This risk would only be mitigated if you were to obtain to Right to Remain. There are certain points during the asylum process, however, where you are more likely to be detained. After your screening interview is one of them. More information on how best to prepare for detention can be found here: https://righttoremain.org.uk/toolkit/detention/
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Don’t be hesitant to claim asylum if you have used a false passport. Article 31 of the Refugee Convention acknowledges the need for people to use a false identification in order to leave their country of origin. This is especially important for people to remember who arrive to the UK via an airport.
Let any friend, family member or ‘volunteer/organisation’ know that you are about to arrive in the UK and that you have arrived. If you are then at risk of detention, they will know of your rough whereabouts and if they do not hear you for 48 hours are more likely to be able to raise an alarm and try to get legal assistance for you.
KEY CONTACT NUMBER
Migrant Help is a good number to keep handy. They can be of assistance to you in the UK.
Migrant Help: 0808 8000 630 / firstname.lastname@example.org