UK Visas and Immigration (P-001040)

  • 1.	Based on the information we have seen, we have found that Mr H told VRS he wanted to fund his own travel back to Pakistan for himself and his family. Because of this, VRS allowed him to do so which works in line with Home Office’s guidance. We therefore are not upholding his complaint.  
  • 2.	Mr H complains that Immigration Enforcement did not properly consider his application to the voluntary returns service (VRS) team for funding to return back to Pakistan on 1 May 2019 (as he wanted to withdraw his application because he says he was not satisfied with the treatment he had received).
    3.	He says the experience was very stressful and he lost out on his own finances to fund his return flights back to Pakistan.
    4.	He would like service improvements, an apology and a financial remedy. 
  • 5.	Mr H and his family arrived in the UK on 27 March 2019 and claimed asylum at port. They were allowed to enter the UK while their application for asylum was being considered. 
    6.	On 9 April 2019, Mr H and his family were provided emergency housing. They remained there until Mr H applied for voluntary assisted return to Pakistan on 1 May 2019. 
    7.	Between 1 May 2019 and 3 May 2019, VRS and Mr H were in discussions about how he would return to Pakistan (if the Home Office would fund this or if Mr H would fund his family’s expenses). We have considered this in greater detail below in our ‘findings’ section. 
    8.	Mr H and his family funded their own travel back to Pakistan and left the UK on 16 May 2019. 
  • 9.	In reaching our views, we have carefully considered the following evidence:
    •	Mr H’s original complaint to us and following correspondence;
    •	Home Office’s complaints file;
    •	Call notes and emails between VRS and Mr H from 1 May 2019 until 3 May 2019.
    10.	We use related or relevant law, policy, guidance and standards to inform our thinking. This allows us to consider what should have happened. In this case we have referred to the following guidelines:
    •	Home Office, Returns, Enforcement and Detention policy, Voluntary and assisted returns guidance, September 2019 (the guidance). 
  • 11.	The guidance explains that “When an individual, or family, who is liable to removal from the UK, requests to leave voluntarily at their own expense (self-funded voluntary returns), this should generally be approved”. The exceptions to this do not fit Mr H’s situation. 
    12.	The guidance also explains that “you must refer family groups …. for a Voluntary Return Family return if they don’t wish to take reintegration assistance”. 
    13.	This means that if an individual or a family requests to leave the UK on their own expense, VRS should allow them to do so. It should however refer them onto the Voluntary Return Family to aid in organising travel back at the individual’s expense. 
    14.	We have seen evidence that Mr H phoned VRS on 3 May 2019 (two days after submitting his request for assisted voluntary return) informing it that he could fund his and his family’s travel back to Pakistan. On the same day, he also sent an email clearly explaining that he wants to cancel his application for voluntary assisted returns so he could leave the UK quickly at his own expense.
    15.	After receiving this correspondence from Mr H, his application for voluntary assisted returns was changed to non-assisted returns and VRS then helped him with booking his and his family’s travel to Pakistan at his own expense. 
    16.	Based on the information we have seen, Mr H expressed that he wanted to fund his own flights, his application for financial assistance was correctly changed to a non-assisted application and VRS help with arranging his own travel to Pakistan. This follows the guidance and we would not have expected VRS to have diverted away from this. We have not seen any failings in the service provided, as VRS correctly amended his application from assisted to non-assisted voluntary returns, as per his request, so he was able to fund his own flights.  
    17.	Therefore, we are not upholding this complaint.