Please see the below NACCOM briefing note on appointment times at the Further Submissions Unit (FSU)

Over the last couple of months, the waiting time for an appointment to submit evidence to the Further Submissions Unit (FSU) has grown significantly. NACCOM members have reported that clients are regularly being offered appointments in April 2020 – a five-month wait.

The lack of available, timely appointments has a significant impact on those applying for Section 4 support. People who believe they have additional evidence that could change their case decision are left without support and are at risk of homelessness and destitution.

The current Further Submissions process, which requires all people submitting further evidence to travel to Liverpool to simply hand over paper files during a five-minute appointment is an unnecessary stress for people seeking asylum. Applicants must travel from across the UK and NACCOM is aware of cases of people sleeping outside overnight in Liverpool whilst they wait for their transport. The applicant must pay for travel themselves, meaning that people who are not allowed to work and are not in receipt of support must borrow money or rely on friends or charity.

On a policy level, NACCOM will raise this directly with the Home Office in the National Asylum Stakeholder Forum and we will continue working with other national NGOs to argue for a wider change to the FSU process.

Practical steps that NACCOM members can take

In case of FSU appointments being made with a significant wait, Section 4 applications can still be made as long as confirmation of an anticipated appointment is included. The Asylum Appeals Support Project (ASAP) has produced a factsheet on evidence for Section 4 appeals, which can be found here[1]. They recommend that;

“Confirmation of an appointment to attend the FSU on a future date may be acceptable, if there is also evidence that the further representations will raise a new, relevant matter and be finalised imminently.”

In submitting the Section 4 application with the appointment confirmation, the further submission should also be included, or a letter from the solicitor setting out how it constitutes new evidence. ASAP and others have confirmed that the Home Office is likely to refuse these applications but the majority are successful on appeal to the asylum support tribunal.

We’d welcome your feedback on this issue and encourage members to contact Jessie Seal, NACCOM’s Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, with your thoughts and experiences.