Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Immigration Corner: How do I complain?

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

In a previous column you had advised a reader of the grounds on which he could make a complaint. I would like you to provide some more detail on how to proceed when actually making the complaint.

- JL

Dear JL,

I presume you are referring to the complaints procedure. In pursuing the complaints procedure, a person can download and print the Home Office complaints form for UK Visas and Immigration.

Persons should be aware complaints do not affect the Home Office decision-making process. Making a complaint does not mean a person's application will be dealt with any quicker or slower.

Persons should provide the Home Office with as much information about themselves as possible. This will allow authorities to find information relevant to the case, and to contact them about it.

If a person is completing this on behalf of someone else, he/she should add his/her name to the complaint.

The information that the complainant ought to provide is as follows - contact details, including a phone number as the authorities may contact him/her to resolve the complaint by phone or request further information; the case names, if the form is being completed on behalf of someone else.

Please note the authorities must have written authority from the complainant, to disclose information about his/her case.

Other information needed include full details of the matter being complained about, including times, dates and locations. Also, the names or identifying numbers of any staff who the complainant might have dealt with; details of any witnesses to the incident, if appropriate; copies of the relevant letters or papers; and details of any reimbursement issues, including original papers and receipts that may support a person's claim.

The authorities will investigate the complaint and provide a response to the person complaining within 20 working days. The authorities will make contact with you if more time is needed to investigate a complaint.

If the complaint suggests serious professional misconduct a response will be provided within 12 weeks, following an independent investigation.

Pon receipt, the complaint will be managed by the correspondence team. This group is responsible for ensuring the complaint is resolved in a satisfactory and timely manner.

The group will send the person an automatic acknowledgement when the complaint is lodged, and may contact the person making the complaint, during an investigation, for further information.

Persons should be aware that they can read the complaints-management guidance for further information about how the authorities may deal with any complaints made.

It should be noted that if a person makes a very serious complaint related to the authorities' officers' use of police-like powers in England and Wales, it will be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC has a remit to oversee certain serious complaints relating to the exercise of the United Kingdom immigration, asylum and customs functions.

The IPCC's remit includes some contractors who carry out enforcement functions on the authorities' behalf.

If such a complaint about serious professional misconduct has been made, the investigators will advise of the outcome, and their letter will advise the person complaining as to who he/she may contact if still dissatisfied.

Please note that if a person does not think his/her complaint has been dealt with correctly, he/she can ask the authorities to review the matter.

At this point the correspondence team will undertake an independent review of the complaint to ascertain whether it has been dealt with properly. They will advise of their findings within 20 working days of the date when the review is requested.

Just for completeness, if a person is still not satisfied with the response, and he/she has already gone through the formal complaint procedure, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman may be able to assist.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.).