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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals


Refugee status, humanitarian protection and discretionary leave to remain

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

Refugees are those granted refugee status after an asylum application or through one of the government programmes to resettle refugees in the UK (such as the Gateway Protection Programme).

Some people who apply for asylum are not given refugee status but may be given other forms of leave: exceptional leave to remain (not granted since 2003), humanitarian protection and discretionary leave. From July 6th 2018, there is a special programme for ‘Dubs children’, stranded unaccompanied in Europe, and any other children for whom they are responsible. They are given five years’ leave.

Most of these types of leave are time limited and must be renewed. After five, six or ten years they may also be changed to indefinite leave to remain (ILR). A refugee will keep his/her refugee status when they get indefinite leave to remain. But a refugee will lose their refugee status (but not ILR if they have it) if they return to their home country.

Refugees also lose their status if they become British citizens.

When anyone applies for leave to remain to be extended or changed to indefinite leave, they stay covered by their previous leave until they get a decision on the application, as long as they apply before their leave expires. This can take a long time.

There is more discussion of the legal meaning of refugee status on the Free Movement blog.

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland