Many refugees have been paying high costs and travelling considerable distances to provide biometric information as part of their applications for settlement in the UK, according to figures gathered by Public Law Project (PLP) and Migrant Legal Project (MLP).

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The research revealed that, until significant improvements were introduced by the Home Office and the company outsourced to run the system (Sopra Steria) in November 2021, the majority of MLP’s clients faced an unreasonable burden in applying for settlement in the UK; and faced significant barriers to integration contrary to the UK’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

PLP’s research showed that the majority of applicants were in difficult financial circumstances but, due to the lack of available free appointments to register their biometric information, many were required to either pay for expensive appointments close to home, or travel long distances for free appointments at considerable cost.

In one case, one of MLP’s clients incurred an estimated cost of £501 for a return car journey from Plymouth to Birmingham and four biometric appointments.

Since our research was conducted, pressure from ILPA, MLP and others in the sector has led to further improvements in the system by way of an increase in free appointments in more locations across the UK.

It essential however that steps should be taken by the Home Office to ensure this situation does not reoccur.

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MLP and PLP were funded by the Strategic Legal Fund to produce the report. Evidence was gathered from MLP’s experiences of assisting refugee individuals and families to apply for settlement in the UK.