Immigration Corner | In need of help to come home
Dear Mr Bassie,
I have a relative who has overstayed while visiting England. He now wants to come home but cannot afford to pay for his airfare and other travel expenses. I was told that the British authorities may be willing to assist with these type of expenses in certain circumstances. Any advice would certainly help.
Persons are able to get help to return home if they are a migrant in the United Kingdom. Persons can apply for help to return to their home country, and this is known as 'voluntary return'. Please be aware that persons will still be able to get assistance even if they are already making their own plans to return to their home country.
If they are eligible for financial support, they can apply for up to £2,000, which can be used to find somewhere to live, find a job, or start a business in their home country.
Persons are eligible to get help to return to their home if any of the following are true: they are in the United Kingdom illegally or have overstayed the allotted time on their visa or permission to stay; they are in a family group with a child under 18 years old and are in the United Kingdom illegally; they have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, their application to stay in the United Kingdom; they have claimed asylum in the United Kingdom but now want to withdraw that claim.
Persons cannot apply for voluntary return 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 in the United Kingdom; have been told by United Kingdom Visas and Immigration that the matter is a 'third country case'; are a European Economic Area or Swiss national unless they have a letter from United Kingdom Visas and Immigration confirming that they are a victim of modern slavery.
CRITERIA FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Persons can apply for financial help and extra support if any of the following are true: they are waiting for a decision on an asylum application but want to withdraw their application; they have been refused asylum and have appealed, or are appealing, against the decision but want to withdraw the appeal; they have been refused asylum, and any appeals made have also been refused; they are part of a family group that will travel together, including someone under 18 years old; they are under 18 years and travelling alone; persons have a letter from United Kingdom Visas and Immigration confirming they are a victim of modern slavery; they need help with their return, for example, because they may have a medical condition.
Another reason may be that they were given temporary (discretionary) leave to remain in the United Kingdom outside of the immigration rules, but the leave has now expired.
It should be noted that if persons made an asylum application in the past but withdrew it, they cannot apply for financial help.
Persons should contact the voluntary returns service if they are not sure whether they are eligible. The following are the contact details:
Voluntary returns service
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:firstname.lastname@example.org