The process of forced immigration is a challenge for a person's sense of identity. The traumatic events that precede flight (e.g. torture or rape) may have an impact on the individual's sense of self. By the time the person arrives in the UK, their sense of identity may also have been affected by the significant loss of their homeland and, often, family members. On arrival, the person is given the ‘temporary’ label of asylum seeker. Although this status offers many the hope of refuge from persecution, there are significant constraints inherent in this role. Until recently, asylum seekers in the UK could be in limbo for many years as their case was considered. Although more recent legislative changes have attempted to speed up the process it can still be lengthy. This article outlines the multiple threats to an asylum-seeking person's sense of identity and associated mental health problems. Ways in which mental health professionals can support the person's sense of identity during this transition are discussed.