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Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Asylum seekers and refugees should contact the British Dental Association. They will be able to give them a newsletter and put them in touch with other dentists or groups who are able to offer assistance.

Asylum Seekers

An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for asylum and is awaiting a decision from the UKVI. Asylum seekers do not usually have the right to work in the UK and may only be employed if the UKVI has lifted restrictions on them taking employment.


Refugee status is granted when an asylum seeker fulfils the criteria for recognition under the terms of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees. Refugees and those who have been recognised as requiring humanitarian protection will have no restrictions on the type of work they can do in the UK as long as they continue to hold this qualifying status. Dentists who are also refugees have the same registration requirements with the GDC as other overseas qualified dentists.

The language requirements to sit a registration examination are also the same for refugees as all other applicants. The British Dental Association provides free membership for two years to refugee dentists. This allows valuable access to books, journals etc which is valuable for those sitting the registration examination.

Refugee Academic Dentists

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) makes small grants to refugee academics to assist them to rebuild their lives and careers in the UK.

In order to qualify for assistance, applicants must meet two key criteria:

  • They must have been employed in an academic position at a university (or equivalent higher education institute in their country of origin or another country, excluding the UK). Qualifying positions include lecturer and researcher.
  • Hold one of the following: UK refugee status, leave to remain (indefinite, exceptional or discretionary) or humanitarian protection. (In exceptional circumstances, they might also assist asylum seekers.)

CARA council members take all decisions regarding applications.

View the website for further information.

Other immigration status

Exceptional leave to remain

This is granted to someone who has not been recognised as a refugee but who has been allowed to stay in the UK for compassionate reasons.

Indefinite leave to remain

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you're eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.

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