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Applying social work law to asylum and immigration
Applying social work law to asylum and immigration

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Applying social work law to asylum and immigration


In this free online course, Applying social work law to asylum and immigration, you will hear from social work practitioners, lawyers, advocates and advice workers about the ways in which social work practitioners can support people with insecure immigration status, people with refugee status and people seeking asylum more effectively.

Photograph of a demonstration with the Scottish flag and a placard which reads ‘Refugees Welcome Here’.
Figure 1 Scotland welcomes refugees

Given the professional commitment by social workers to support vulnerable and excluded people, and to promote social change and social justice, it would be logical to assume that social workers would also have significant obligations to provide services to asylum seekers and refugees, who seek refuge from human rights abuses, disasters, wars and other forms of persecution in their homelands. Asylum seekers and refugees are often among the most vulnerable and the poorest sectors of society. However, statutory social work is limited by law, and in some respects, in its ability to address the obvious needs of this group.

Legislation relating to immigration and asylum issues often intentionally restricts access to services and public participation on grounds of nationality − for example, section 21 of the Care Act (CA2014). Social workers must work within the constraints of relevant legislation; in some instances this will place them in a difficult position, but these moments can also be regarded as opportunities for social workers to educate, explain and lobby for legal change.

As political turmoil, wars and natural disasters seemingly continue to unfold, so does the need for people to seek refuge. At the time of preparing these OpenLearn course materials the War in Ukraine started to unfold and an estimated 2.6 million people had fled the country. As a result, the UK Government instigated the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme to allow individuals, charities and community groups across the UK to offer a room or home rent free in return for a compensation payment of £350. Also, whilst preparing this course, the Nationality and Borders Act (2022) was introduced, which brings changes to support provided to asylum seekers and also puts into statute the ability to remove people to a ‘safe third country’. Rwanda has entered into agreement with the UK government to receive asylum seekers whose claims are inadmissible in the UK. However, legal challenges continue in the European Court of Human Rights and (at the time of writing) there have been no removals to Rwanda. This highlights the need for social workers to keep themselves informed about humanitarian crises and up to date with changing policy.

In this course, you will find out more about the realities of asylum and immigration in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland today and understand the ways social workers interact with the law in this area of practice.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course K271 Social work law [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .