Immigration Corner | Overstayer seeking assistance to return home
Dear Mr Bassie,
I have a relative who is in the United Kingdom on a visa and he has overstayed his allotted time. He is fed up and wants to return home. Is it true that he can get assistance from the British authorities to return home?
He needs advice desperately, but is afraid to ask. I am hoping that you can shed some light on this for us.
Persons can get help to return home if they are migrants in the United Kingdom. That is, persons can apply for help to return to their home country and this is known as ‘voluntary return’ and they can still get help if they are already making their own plans to return to their home country.
If eligible for financial support, persons 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.
Who Are Eligible for Help:
Persons can get help to return home if any of the following are true:
• They are in the United Kingdom illegally or have overstayed 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• They have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, their application to stay in the United Kingdom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 UK Visas and Immigration that they are a ‘third-country case’
• are a European Economic Area or Swiss national (unless they have a letter from UK Visas and Immigration confirming they are a victim of modern slavery)
Obtaining financial assistance and extra support
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 their appeal
• they have been refused asylum, and any appeals they have 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 old and travelling alone
• they have a letter from UK Visas and Immigration confirming they are a victim of modern slavery
• they need more help with their return - for example, they may 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
Please note that if persons had made an asylum application in the past but withdrew it, they cannot apply for financial help.
Persons who are not sure whether they are eligible should contact the voluntary returns service over there at:
Voluntary returns service
Telephone: 0300 004 0202
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It is best for persons to apply online for help to return to their home country. Those persons will need to have their address in the United Kingdom and an email address. Please be aware that persons cannot apply if they have booked a flight to leave the United Kingdom in the seven days following the date of the application.
Persons can also get help using a computer to apply online. That is, they can get help with accessing a computer or the internet and finding the right information online. Persons cannot get advice on which visa should be applied for; what information should be included in the person’s application; or an application that has already been submitted. If persons cannot apply online, they should contact the voluntary returns service. The contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 03333 445 675
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Find out about call charges
Text: ‘VISA’ to 07537 416 944
After the application has been submitted the Home Office will make contact within three days advising that they are in receipt of the application. Please note that further information in support of the application may need to be provided and the application can be cancelled if this is not done.
If the person’s passport or travel document is being held by the Home Office, it will be returned to him/her at the airport when leaving the United Kingdom.
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