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Immigration Corner | Can I get my documents back?

Published:Friday | August 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am preparing to make a visa application, but I am being told that I must send in my original documents with the application. I am a little apprehensive as these are hard and expensive to replace. Will I be able to get these back?

- A.B.


Dear A.B.,

It is possible for persons to get their visa, immigration, or citizenship documents back. Persons can also ask for their passport and other documents to be returned if they have sent them with the application but need them urgently. How this is done will depend on whether they have applied in the United Kingdom and what type of application they have made.

In some cases, persons may have to cancel their application, but they will be told if this has to be done and when they should ask for their documents to be returned to them.

If persons have applied from outside of the United Kingdom, they should contact UK Visas and Immigration. However, they will not get a refund of their application fees if their application has been processed.

If persons have applied from within the United Kingdom, they can complete the online form to get their documents returned. Please note that this form cannot be used if they have applied for asylum or if their application has been refused.

Persons will usually get their documents back within 10 working days. Persons can get their documents back quicker if they ask for a faster decision on their application. This costs £400, in addition to the application fee that would have already been paid. If persons have applied for asylum, they should contact their caseworker to ask for the return of their documents.

If an application has been refused, persons must follow the instructions on their refusal notice or contact the Immigration Compliance and Enforcement team in their area. Persons may report that they have not received their documents if they have not been returned after 10 working days. It should be noted that if persons have applied for British citizenship before 1989, then their passport would have been sent to their country's embassy in the United Kingdom.

With respect to cancelling requests, persons must use the cancellation form if they no longer need their documents returned. However, they cannot cancel their request if it has already been processed.

- 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: