Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Immigration Corner | Illegal immigrant leaving UK

Published:Tuesday | December 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I went to England on a student visa but had to drop out of college and was unable to support myself.

If someone is returning to Jamaica, having been in England illegally, are they able to get any assistance from the British authorities? I read somewhere that people in those positions may be able to get help.

- G.D.


Dear G.D.,

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

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they are in a family group with a child under 18 years of age and are in the United Kingdom illegally; they have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, the application to extend their leave to remain because they want to return to their home country; they have claimed asylum.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

Persons can get financial help and extra support but they cannot apply for assistance in the conventional way; they will need to apply in a different way if they are eligible for financial help and extra support.

They are eligible 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the decision; they have been refused asylum, and any appeals made have also been refused; they have never previously withdrawn an asylum application; they are part of a family group that will travel together, including someone under 18 years old; they are under18 years old and travelling alone; they have a letter from United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming they are a victim of trafficking; they need more help with their return - for example, because they have a medical condition; they were given temporary 'discretionary' leave to remain in the United Kingdom outside the Immigration Rules, but the leave has now expired.

This is known as assisted return. 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; have been told by UKVI that they are a 'third country case'; are a European Economic Area or Swiss national, unless they have a letter from UKVI confirming you are a victim of trafficking.

Persons can also get help if they are making their own plans to return to their home country. Those persons should contact the voluntary returns service to find out: what help is available; how long it'll take to arrange the arrangements to return; they might also be able to get help with the cost of the flight. However, persons should not make the reservation until they have contacted the team.

Voluntary returns service


Telephone: 0300 004 0202

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

Find out about call charges

Voluntary returns service

18th Floor

Lunar House

40 Wellesley Road



Persons will need to tell them: their Home Office reference, if they know it; their full name, date of birth and nationality; their telephone number and current address; details of the travel document held, for example, a passport or emergency travel document, and whether it is valid; if they have any dependents under 18 years of age.

If the person's passport or travel document is being held by the Home Office it will be returned at the airport when he or she is leaving the UK.

Persons can apply for assisted return if they are eligible. They can apply for: up to £2,000 which they can use to find somewhere to live, find a job or start a business in their home country; help applying for their travel documents; help booking their flight.

In order to complete the application persons must download and fill in the assisted return application form and send it to the Home Office, the address is on the form.

Persons can be forced to return to their home country if they withdraw their application or do not follow the application process.

Persons should contact the voluntary returns service if they need help with their application.

After completing and submitting the application the Home Office will contact the applicant within 14 days to confirm receipt of the application.

Persons might need to provide further information to support their application. However, the applications can be cancelled if the requested information is not provided and if this occurs they must leave the UK within three months of the date that the application is approved.

Please note that if persons have applied for asylum they must cancel their application by signing a 'declaration of withdrawal' when they leave the UK.

As such and depending on their circumstances, persons might qualify for Voluntary Departure - they will get some help with arranging and paying for their journey; Assisted Voluntary Returns - they will get some help arranging and paying for their journey, and building a life in the country to which they are returning.

I hope this helps.

- 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:lawbassie@yahoo.com.