Sun | Jan 21, 2018

My nephew wants to come home

Published:Tuesday | April 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have a nephew who is illegally in the United Kingdom. I believe that he is not working but he wants to return home. I was told that, in certain circumstances, the British authorities are willing to assist people to return home. Would you please let me know if this is true?

- J.C.

Dear J.C.,

Persons must return to their home country if they are in the United Kingdom illegally and their leave has expired. Persons are able to get some help if they are over 18 and any of the following apply - they have been refused leave to remain in the United Kingdom; they are in a family group with a child under 18 years old who includes someone who is in the United Kingdom illegally; they have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, their application to extend their leave to remain because they want to return to their home country, this is known as 'voluntary departure'.

Persons will need to apply in a different way if they are eligible for financial help and extra support. Persons are eligible if they are waiting for a decision on an asylum application; if they have been refused asylum and have appealed, or are appealing, against the decision; they have been given temporary 'discretionary' leave to remain in the United Kingdom; entered the United Kingdom illegally and not claimed asylum, but are victims of human trafficking or smuggling.

Persons may also be eligible for financial help and extra support if they are part of a family group that will travel together; are under 18 years old and were not accompanied by an adult when they arrived in the United Kingdom.

This type of assistance is known as 'assisted voluntary return' (AVR). However, it should be noted that persons cannot apply for this if they are currently being investigated by the police or detained by the Home Office; have been given a prison sentence that is 12 months or longer; have been convicted of an immigration offence and given a deportation order; have already been given humanitarian protection, indefinite leave to remain or refugee status; or if they are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national.

Persons may also get help if making their own plans to return to their home country. Such persons should contact the voluntary departures team to find out what help is available and if eligible how long it will take to arrange their return. It may also be possible to get help with the cost of the flight. However, it is advisable not to book the flight until contact has been made with the Voluntary Departures Team. Contact details are as follows:

Voluntary Departures

Telephone: 0300 004 0202

Monday to Friday, 9a.m. to 5:30p.m.

Fax: 0870 336 9544

When contacting the Voluntary Departures Team, persons will need to tell the team their Home Office reference (if known or if any), their full name, date of birth and nationality; their telephone number and current address; details of the travel document that they might hold, for example a passport or emergency travel document, and whether it is valid and whether they have any dependents under the age of 18 years. Also, whether their passports or travel documents are being held by the Home Office and, if so, it should be noted that they will be returned to the airport when leaving the United Kingdom.

If a person is successful having applied for the AVR programme, he/she would be eligible for up to £2,000, which can be used to find somewhere to live, find a job or start a business in that person's home country; receive help in applying for his/her travel documents; help in booking his/her flight; and also help at the airport.

To make the application persons will need to download and fill-in the AVR application form and then send it to the Home Office. Please be aware that persons can be forced to return to their home country if they withdraw their applications or do not follow the application process.

Persons should contact the Assisted Voluntary Returns team if they need help with the application. The team's details are as follows:

Assisted Voluntary Returns

Telephone: 0300 004 0202

Monday to Friday, 9a.m. to 5:30p.m.


Assisted Voluntary Returns

18th Floor

Lunar House

40 Wellesley Road



After a person has made the application the Home Office will contact the applicant within seven days to advise that the application has been received. An applicant should be aware that he/she may need to provide further information to support the application and that the application can be cancelled if this is not provided. Also, the successful applicant must leave the United Kingdom within three months of the date that the application is approved.

- 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.). Email: