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The challenges faced during home office interview when seeking asylum in the United Kingdom: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Prof Cornelius Katona
Rebecca Chaffelson, Jonathan A. Smith & Henry Clements
Ethnic and Racial Studies


Accounts by those seeking asylum are often challenged by the Home Office (HO) because of apparent inconsistencies and lack of credibility. Yet the ability to disclose everything at initial interview can be impacted by many factors. This study explores how applicants experienced interviews with the HO and its effects.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants who had been through the UK asylum process. Transcripts of interviews were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four Superordinate themes were identified; “Confronted by a Hostile System”, “Intra and Interpersonal Barriers at Interview”, “Moments of Reprieve”, “A Destructive Process”.

Participants identified experiences of a system that felt overtly and intentionally hostile. Psychological, practical and institutional factors were identified as affecting what they were able to disclose. Participants identified deterioration to their mental health because of the experience, which for some was not alleviated once leave to remain was granted.