Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Immigration Corner | Can my friend get help?

Published:Tuesday | March 7, 2017 | 12:03 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

My friend is in the United Kingdom illegally and would like to return home. Is it true that although she should not have been there, the British authorities may still be willing to assist her to return home?

- L.L.

Dear L.L.,

Persons must return to their home country if they are in the United Kingdom illegally or if their leave to remain has expired.

Persons can get some help to return to their home country if they are over 18 years of age and any of the following apply: they have been refused leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom; they are in a family group with a child under 18 years of age and are in the United Kingdom illegally; they have withdrawn, or want to withdraw their application to extend their leave to remain because they want to return to their home country; or they have claimed asylum. This is known as 'voluntary return'.

Persons are eligible for financial help and extra support if: they are waiting for a decision on an asylum application; they have been refused asylum and have appealed, or are appealing, against the decision; they have been refused asylum, and any appeals made have also been refused; they have never previously withdrawn an asylum application; they are part of a family group that will travel together, including someone under 18 years of age.




Persons may also be eligible if they are under 18 years of age and travelling alone; they have a letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they are a victim of trafficking; they need more help with their return, for example, they may have a medical condition.

Persons may also be eligible if they were given temporary 'discretionary' leave to remain in the United Kingdom, but the leave has now expired. This type of return under these circumstances is known as 'assisted return'. Persons cannot apply for this assistance if they: are currently being investigated by the police or detained by the Home Office; have been given a prison sentence of 12 months or longer; have been convicted of an immigration offence and given a deportation order; or have already been given humanitarian protection, indefinite leave to remain or refugee status.

Persons can get assistance if they are making their own plans to return to their home country. Persons should contact the Voluntary Returns Service to find out what help they can get and how long it will take to arrange their return. Persons might also be able to get help with the cost of the flight. Persons should not book their flight until they have contacted the team. The contact details are as follows:

Voluntary Returns Service (VRS)

Telephone: 0300 004 0202

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

- 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 (UK). Email