An analysis of asylum statistics and trends in the UK and other EU countries. Statistics on asylum seekers and refugees in the UK are published by the Home Office, while statistics on asylum in EU28 countries are published by Eurostat. These statistics contain data on the number of people applying for asylum and the outcomes of asylum applications.Jump to full report >>
Asylum is protection given by a country to someone fleeing from persecution in their own country. An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for asylum and is awaiting a decision on whether they will be granted refugee status. An asylum applicant who does not qualify for refugee status may still be granted leave to remain in the UK for humanitarian or other reasons. An asylum seeker whose application is refused at initial decision may appeal the decision through an appeals process and, if successful, may be granted leave to remain.
Asylum seekers were around 6.0% of immigrants to the UK in 2016.
The number of asylum applications to the UK peaked in 2002 at 84,132. After that the number fell sharply to reach a twenty year low point of 17,916 in 2010, before rising again to reach 32,733 in 2015. The number fell in 2016, to 30,747.
The percentage of asylum applicants refused at initial decision reached its highest point at 88% in 2004. After that, the percentage of applicants refused at initial decision fell to 59% in 2014, before increasing to 66% in 2016.
In the period from 2004 to 2016, around three-quarters of applicants refused asylum at initial decision lodged an appeal, but only around one quarter of those appeals was allowed.
In 2016, 37% of asylum applicants were nationals of Asian countries, 29% were nationals of Middle Eastern countries, 23% were nationals of African countries, and 7% were from Europe.
In 2016, there were six asylum applications for every 10,000 people resident in the UK. Across the EU28 there were 25 asylum applications for every 10,000 people. The UK is therefore below the average among EU countries for asylum applications per head of population, ranking 17th among EU28 countries on this measure.