The words: Know your rights spray painted on white painted brick


People’s rights and responsibilities help to make our society operate fairly and equitably. Rights are freedoms that are protected by our laws, while responsibilities are duties that, as members of society, we should do. Rights and responsibilities are not universal, so each country could have different rights and responsibilities for their citizens and residents. When we move to a new country, it is important to understand our rights and responsibilities as this helps us all to be an integral part of our community.

What are our rights?

Knowing your rights is essential, particularly when you arrive in a new country. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 14 that “everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”. The Refugee Convention built on this, establishing a regime of international refugee protection, ratified by the UK in 1954. In addition, the Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Amongst other things, it prohibits torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and slavery and forced labour. It also provides for a right to liberty and security and a right to private and family life. Find out more about the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in the UK.

It is also essential to understand the terminology used for migrants and refugees.


According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in international law and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk.


According to the UN, while there is no formal legal definition of an international migrant, most experts agree that an international migrant changes their country of residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status.

Rights and Responsibilities

Many sites set out the rights and responsibilities of people living in the UK, whatever their status.

  1. Citizens Advice is a handy site, with separate links for people living in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. They provide good quality, independent advice.


    1. Local Councils will have region-specific support for migrants and refugees. To find a local council, use GOV.UK and access the council sites to determine area-specific entitlements and rights.
    2. NHSNational Health Service
  • For all information on rights, and how to, access UK’s multiple health and dental services. You can also see the TGIUK Practical Information “Healthcare in the UK”.
    1. Library

      • As well as providing services such as book loans, CD rental, and internet access, libraries provide access to health and social care information and signpost customers to online information and specialist agencies.
      • To find the nearest library.
      • To find local library services.

    Finding independent support agencies.

      • Many charities and organisations provide free advice on a confidential basis; however, avoid sites that ask for money before they give any information.
      • TGIUK has listed organisations that work nationally, but there are also regional organisations, so check on the internet or at local libraries.
      • TGIUK also recommends using sites that are updated regularly and reflect current policy and procedures.


    Legal advice

    If legal advice is required, there are options available.

      • Legal Aid – depending on the issue and personal circumstance, legal aid may offset some costs. The Law Society has a helpful site on Legal Aid and how to determine if you are entitled.
      • Pro-bono legal advice – if you are not entitled to legal aid or cannot afford legal fees, some solicitors take on pro-bono work, free legal advice. Again, the Law Society has a very useful site to explain pro-bono work and how to find solicitors.


    Further information and helplines

    Other independent sites which have information for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

      • Right to remain:
        • An independent registered charity that provides information, resources, training, and assistance to help people to establish their right to remain.
      • Refugee Action:
        • An independent registered charity providing guidance on navigating the asylum system, offering practical advice.
      • Refugee Education UK:
        • A charity that supports all areas of education in the UK to refugees and asylum seekers.
      • Migrants Rights Network:
        • Provides a resource pack on your rights and how to assert them.
      • Legal Aid advice – NRPF network on Legal Aid
        • A national network safeguarding the welfare of impoverished families, adults and care leavers who cannot access benefits due to their immigration status.
      • The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
        • Campaigns for a fair immigration systems and deals with all areas of asylum and immigration law.
      • Refugee Council
        • A charity that works with refugees and asylum seekers.
      • Migrant Help
        • An agency that supports people affected by displacement and exploitation.
      • Rainbow Migration
        • Supporting LGBTQI+ people through the asylum and immigration system.
      • Together with Migrant Children
        • Provides support to all children and young people impacted by immigration.
      • The Children’s Society.
        • A national charity, supporting young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect.
      • Welcome – a guide for refugees – while aimed at adults recently granted refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in England after claiming asylum, it contains useful information for anyone moving to the UK.


    Last updated August 2023