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Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Section 94: Interpretation of Part VI

270.Subsection (1) defines an asylum seeker as someone who has made a claim for asylum under the Refugee Convention, which has not yet been determined, or for protection under Article 3 of the ECHR, and whose claim has not yet been determined. Dependants of asylum seekers are supported alongside the asylum seeker, and a dependant is defined as an asylum seeker’s spouse or any dependent child of the asylum seeker or spouse who is under the age of 18. There is a power to add to this list by means of regulations. This subsection also defines a supported person under the terms of the Secretary of State’s scheme so that it includes both the principal asylum seeker or his dependants. This reflects the ability of the Secretary of State to provide support for an asylum seeker’s dependants even though he may not be supporting the principal asylum seeker, for example, because he is detained.

271.Under section 95 support may be provided to an asylum seeker by the Secretary of State, or through arrangements made by him with another party. The Home Office proposes to contract with local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords and the voluntary sector for the provision of accommodation and subsistence for asylum seekers. Subsection (2) of section 94 clarifies that throughout Part VI of the Act, references to support provided under the main power in include support provided under arrangements made with others.

272.Subsection (3) of section 94 defines when an asylum claim is to be treated as having been determined for the purposes of the support arrangements. A claim would be determined a prescribed number of days after either the Secretary of State’s decision on an asylum application, or (where there has been an appeal) the final determination of the appeal. It is expected that this period will not be less than 14 days; this period of grace would allow a former asylum seeker time to make other arrangements before his stay in accommodation provided under Part VI ends. This provision would only apply to single asylum seekers or childless couples; the effect of subsection (5) is that families with dependent children will continue to be eligible for support for as long as they remain in the country. Subsection (6) makes it clear, however, that they would cease to be eligible for support under the Secretary of State’s scheme if the asylum seeker was recognised as a refugee or otherwise granted leave to enter or remain (because he would be entitled to transfer to the main benefits system).

273.Subsection (7) gives the Secretary of State power to reach a decision on the age of a person claiming support. This provision is necessary, for example, because some asylum seekers claim to be minors when they are not.

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