Fri | Aug 14, 2020

Immigration Corner | Returning original documents during visa application process

Published:Tuesday | December 3, 2019 | 12:33 AM
John Bassie
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I recently made an application for British citizenship. I have sent in some of my original documentation with the application, but I need to retrieve these documents urgently. Please advise me on how I can get them back.


Dear TN,

Persons might be able to ask for their passports and other documents to be returned if they had sent them with the application and now need them to be returned urgently. How this is done will depend on whether the application was made in the United Kingdom or outside, and what type of application was made. Please be aware that persons might have to cancel their applications. If the application needs to be cancelled, those persons will be told when they ask for the return of their documents.

Please also note that if the application was made from outside the United Kingdom, then persons must contact UK Visas and Immigration. However, persons will not get a refund if their application has been processed.

If persons made their applications from within the United Kingdom, they might be able to use the online return of documents form. The form explains who can use it and how to get their documents back.

Persons cannot use the online form if:

• They no longer have permission to stay in the United Kingdom, that is, their ‘valid leave to enter or remain’ has expired

• They want to cancel the application to extend their stay in the United Kingdom because they now plan to leave

• Their application to stay in the United Kingdom (‘leave to remain’) has been refused or rejected

• They have applied for asylum

If persons are eligible, they will usually get their documents back within 10 working days. If they do not have permission to stay in the United Kingdom and want to leave voluntarily or cannot use the online form, they should contact the Voluntary Returns Service as stated below. Those persons will get their documents back at the airport.

Voluntary Returns Service

Telephone: 0300 004 0202

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

Find out about call charges

Please note that persons may be removed from the United Kingdom if they do not have permission to stay in the country and do not leave voluntarily. In addition, if an application for asylum was made, persons should contact their caseworker or the Voluntary Returns Service to ask for their documents back.

Just for completeness, if persons would like to cancel their requests to have their documents returned, those persons can use the cancellation form to do this. However, please be aware that persons cannot cancel their request if it has already been processed.

Good luck.

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: