Immigration Corner | How to get assistance to return home after overstaying
Dear Mr Bassie,
My relative overstayed in the United Kingdom and has been informed that he may be able to get assistance to return home. Please advise if this is true.
Persons can apply for help to return to their home country. This is known as ‘voluntary return’. Those persons can still get help even if they are already making plans to return to their home country. Persons who are eligible for financial support 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.
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• They have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, their application to stay in the United Kingdom;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 that they are a victim of modern slavery).
The voluntary returns service can support persons after leaving the United Kingdom by helping them find somewhere to live, find a job, or start a business in their home country.
To be eligible, persons must apply before they leave the United Kingdom. They can apply for this support if any of the following are true:
• They are waiting for a decision on an asylum application but want to withdraw the 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 they have made have also been refused;
• They are part of a family group that will travel together, including someone under 18 years old;
• He/she is under 18 years old and travelling alone;
• They have a letter from UK Visas and Immigration confirming that 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.
Persons should contact the voluntary returns service if they are not sure whether they are eligible.
Voluntary returns service
Telephone: 011 44 0300 004 0202
Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 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: email@example.com