If you're going to be deported from the UK
If you’ve broken the immigration rules, for example by living in the UK illegally, the Home Office can make you leave. Most people call this being deported, but it’s technically called administrative removal.
You’ll get a chance to provide evidence that you should be able to stay in the UK.
If your evidence is rejected you can:
- appeal (if you have appeal rights - this information will be on your letter from the Home Office)
- choose to leave
If your appeal isn’t likely to succeed you should leave voluntarily, because you’ll be banned from the UK for 10 years if you’re deported.
If you choose to leave you can return to the UK in between 1 and 5 years, depending on your circumstances.
If the Home Office want to deport you, they’ll tell you in writing. You can respond to their letter with reasons you should be able to stay in the UK. How to do this, and the deadline, will be explained in your letter.
An immigration specialist will help you respond with reasons that the Home Office will accept, for example if:
- you have strong connections and family in the UK (deporting you would go against your human rights)
- returning to your home country would be dangerous (you can apply for asylum)
You’ll either be allowed to stay in the UK, or the Home Office will begin the process of deporting you.
If your argument to stay in the UK is rejected
The Home Office will send you a letter with information about leaving the UK. It’ll say whether or not you can appeal.
If you can’t appeal
If you can’t appeal, your only option is to take your case to a judicial review. You’ll need to do this within 3 months of receiving the decision.
Judicial reviews are not a good option for most people because:
- they’re only successful if there’s been a legal or admin error, which doesn’t happen very often
- not everyone is allowed to make one - it’s up to a judge
Errors don’t happen very often so it’s best to leave voluntarily, unless your legal adviser thinks you have a good chance of success.
If you can appeal
An appeal will succeed if:
- you have strong connections and family in the UK
- the original decision racially discriminates against you
- going back to your home country would be unsafe
- the decision breaks the law or immigration rules
A specialist immigration adviser will be able to decide whether any of these factors apply to you.
You can still leave voluntarily if your appeal fails.
You can contact your MP for help if you decide to appeal.
- get your case looked at again if you think a mistake has been made
- ask the Home Office to look at your appeal quickly
You can also get in touch with your MSP for help.
You can appeal again if your first appeal fails, and ask for a judicial review. A specialist immigration adviser will tell you whether another appeal or judicial review might succeed.
If your situation changes and you have new evidence showing you should be able to stay in the UK, you might be able to make a new appeal.
When you can’t make any more appeals and do not leave voluntarily, you’ll be deported. You can’t apply to return to the UK for 10 years.
If you leave the UK voluntarily
If you pay for your journey home, you can apply to return to the UK in 1 year.
You should tell the Home Office in writing that you’re planning to leave.
You can get help from the government if you can’t pay for your journey home. Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for:
- 'voluntary departure' - you’ll get some help with arranging and paying for your journey
- 'assisted voluntary returns' - you’ll get some help arranging and paying for your journey, and building a life in the country you return to
You can apply to return to the UK:
- in 2 years if you leave within 6 months of being told to leave
- in 5 years if it takes you longer than 6 months to leave
Voluntary Departures and Assisted Voluntary Returns
Telephone: 0300 004 0202
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm
Calls cost up to 12p per minute from landlines, 3p to 45p from mobiles
Being deported from the UK
You won’t be deported immediately - it usually takes a while for the Home Office to arrange your documents. During this time you’ll have to visit an immigration reporting centre - usually every 2 weeks or once a month.
You’ll only be taken to a detention centre when you’re going to be deported in the near future, unless the Home Office thinks you might try to avoid it.
You’re most likely to be taken into detention when you visit the reporting centre, but it can happen any time. If you have children they’ll be detained with you, so it’s important to prepare them.
Once you’re in detention, you won’t be deported for at least 72 hours.
You should be given information in your own language explaining your rights while you’re there. If you don’t receive this, you should ask for it.
The information will explain your rights while you’re in detention, eg you can:
- have visitors, receive post and telephone calls
- apply for bail
- keep your personal property
- communicate with the outside world - for example to tell people in your home country that you may be returning
- live in accommodation with your family, if they are detained with you
You can ask to see a legal adviser while you’re in detention. They'll help you apply for bail and make further appeals if new information about your situation is found.
If you decide to avoid being deported
It’s illegal to hide from the Home Office. Life will be difficult if you do, because you’ll:
- be removed from the UK if you’re found by the Home Office
- be unable to work legally in the UK
- be unable to open a bank account or rent a house
- find it difficult to live in the UK legally in the future