The Home Office and National Passports: Resolving Validity, Expedition, Retention and Return Issues

A person may need to have a current, original  passport  to enable  submission of a valid  Home Office  application. There are however other reasons why such a document may be required including:

  • Needing a valid passport for identity purposes, for example in order to register to marry or in order to undertake a relevant English test;
  • needing to travel urgently.

The home office may have retained the passport following a refusal decision- a question might  then arise  as regards  under  what power the home office can do so. Where the home office have retained  a passport and are not willing to return the original document, are they able to send a certified copy of the document instead?

Where the passport retained  by the home office during the consideration of an application includes  also that of a Sponsor who is settled  here or  is  British, are there  avenues to seek expedition of a relevant application in order to enable  a quicker return of the passport(s) and other documents?  For example,   how and when can  an applicant take advantage of the  newly introduced upgraded  premium service  facility?

The clarifications below  might assist in appreciating the circumstances in which a  valid passport is required by the home office in order for a leave  application to be accepted as  valid  and also whether provision of a passport may also  be of benefit, for  example in relation to enabling a much  quicker  issuance of the “long”  version of  a Certificate of Application  that  confirms a persons’ right to  undertake employment whilst awaiting a decision on their EEA residence card application.

(1)Retention- Power by the Home Office  to retain valuable documents such as passports:

Section 17 of the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004 gives the Secretary of State power to retain documents, such as a passport, where the Secretary of State or an immigration officer suspects an migrant is liable to removal and the retention of the document may facilitate removal.

The 2004 Act does not allow for the indefinite retention of documents. Home Office policy states that where a person is later granted leave, in whatever capacity, the document must be returned to the holder unless it is a forgery.

Examples of valuable documents capable of retention include:

  • Passports
  • National ID cards
  • Driving licence
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Education certificate
  • Biometrics residence permits
  • Wage slips

The relevant  Home Office policy Guidance is “Retention of valuable documents, version 7.0 Valid from 30 January 2014”.

(2)Validity of leave applications- Requirement to  provide a valid passport with an application to the home office:

Paragraph 34 BB of the  Immigration Rules  provides that where an application for limited or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom is made, the supporting documents submitted  must be accompanied by an original, valid passport, travel document or national identity card issued to the applicant and to any dependents included in the application.

The requirement to provide an original, valid passport, travel document or national identity card is a mandatory requirement otherwise the application will be rejected as invalid.

The exceptions to the above requirements are :

  • for limited leave to enable access to public funds pending an application under paragraph 289A of, or under Part 6 of Appendix Armed Forces or section DVILR of Appendix FM to, these Rules; or
  • by a stateless person or the family member of a stateless person under Part 14 of the Immigration Rules; or
  • by a person in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection; or
  • the passport, travel document or national identity card of the applicant or (as the case may be) the dependent is held by the Home Office at the date of application; or
  • the Secretary of State considers that there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or (as the case may be) the dependent, given in or with the application, why an original, valid passport, travel document or (unless the applicant is a Points Based System Migrant) national identity card cannot be provided, e.g. where it has been retained by an employer or other person in circumstances which have led to the applicant being the subject of a positive conclusive grounds decision made by a competent authority under the National Referral Mechanism, or where it has been permanently lost and there is no functioning national government to issue a replacement. The Secretary of State may require the person to provide alternative satisfactory evidence of his or her identity and nationality.

Reasons beyond the applicant or any dependant’s control may include:

  • if there is no longer a functioning national authority to approach and provide a new document, or because there is no Embassy or consular service in the UK.
  • if there is a national authority to apply for a document but they have run out of documents, or they have made their application for a replacement document but the issuing authority cannot provide a document in time for the applicant to make their valid application before their leave expires.
  • if the applicant cannot obtain a document for reasons of national or personal security.
  • if the national authority is unreasonable and refuses to provide a document, for example: if the national authority will only provide a passport if they apply in person but there is no provision to apply in person in the UK of if the national authority puts unreasonable barriers in place based on unsubstantiated claims.

If the applicant has not enclosed a current, valid passport, travel document or national identity card, then they must provide alternative satisfactory evidence of identity which must include their full name, date of birth and nationality.

A reasonable alternative could include, but is not limited to, a:

  • full birth certificate
  • driving licence
  • national health card
  • national service document

The relevant Home Office Guidance, “ Specified application forms and procedures – version 18 Published for Home Office staff on 18 March 2016”,  provides further details.

(3)Passports for EEA nationals and their Family members: identification document requirements for EEA documentation applications

To benefit from certain provisions of the 2006 EEA regulations, for example when applying for a document or seeking to appeal a decision, a person must present a valid:

  • identity (ID) card issued by an EEA member state
  • passport

Acceptable evidence of identity for a European Economic Area (EEA) national is a valid:

  • EEA identity (ID) card;
  • passport issued by an EEA member state

If the EEA national is applying as the family member of another EEA national, they must also submit acceptable evidence of identity for that EEA national.

Acceptable evidence of identity for a non-EEA national applying for a document is a valid:

  • passport for themselves;
  • EEA ID card or valid passport issued by an EEA member state for their EEA family member

There are certain limited circumstances where alternative evidence of identity can be accepted.

If the EEA national’s passport or ID card is not presented with their application, home office case owners cannot insist these are submitted unless there are good reasons for doing so. Such reasons may include:

  • no previous documentation issued (and so evidence of EEA nationality has not already been seen)
  • information suggests the EEA national has acquired another nationality which may have implications for their EEA status
  • information suggests the EEA national is no longer in the UK
  • there is suspicions that fraud has been involved in the application

This list is not exhaustive and there may be other reasons why the caseowner can request the EEA national passport or ID card. This follows the Upper Tribunal case of Barnett and Others (EEA Regulations: rights and documentation) Jamaica [2012] UKUT 142 (IAC). Home office Guidance states that this judgment does not affect the need for the non-EEA national family member to present evidence of their identity in the form of a passport. If this is not submitted, then the case owner is permitted to refuse the application in line with normal procedures.

There may be exceptional reasons why a person cannot provide such documentation and a home office caseowner can accept alternative evidence of identity and nationality if they cannot get or produce the required document due to circumstances beyond their control. This is set out in regulation 29A of the regulations inserted on 8 November 2012. This may be, for example, if they have been granted asylum in the UK and there would be a potential risk to the applicant in seeking documentation from the authorities in their home country, or their asylum claim has failed but there is an ongoing appeal against that decision. In such cases, a Home Office issued application registration card (ARC) can be accepted as alternative evidence of identity and nationality. Where such alternative documentation is accepted, this can also be considered acceptable for the purposes of an applicant’s appeal rights. Each case must be considered on its individual merits.

The following are reasons for not accepting alternative ID:

  • where the applicant claims cost or inconvenience as a reason for not supplying valid ID
  • if an ARC card is submitted but the asylum claim was refused and the applicant is appeal rights exhausted

Regulation 29A does not apply to applications for admission under regulation 11, as this already contains a provision allowing an applicant to establish their right to enter by other means.

Passports and identity (ID) documents must be originals. Copies of these documents will not be accepted. Other documents, such as marriage or birth certificates should be originals, as photocopies cannot be accepted unless there are valid reasons for not being able to provide the original document.

In these circumstances, home office caseowners can accept a copy certified by:

  • the body or authority which issued the original
  • a legal representative

If the applicant cannot submit these documents because they are being held by another department within Home Office, the home office case owner must make arrangements with the relevant department to have them sent to them.

The relevant Home Office Guidance, “ Specified application forms and procedures – version 18 Published for Home Office staff on 18 March 2016”, provides further details.

(4)Passports and issue of Certificates of Application: direct and extended  EEA family members

A family member of an EEA nation may apply for a residence card.

To be issued with a ‘long’ Certificate of Application(COA) confirming a right to take employment while their application is under consideration, Home Office policy guidance provides that the applicant must have submitted:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid EEA identity (ID) card or EEA passport for the EEA national
  • evidence of relationship to their EEA national (for example, marriage or birth certificates) and either:
  • evidence the EEA national has exercised free movement rights in the UK as a jobseeker, worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student
  • evidence the EEA national has permanent residence in the UK

The Guidance states that for an applicant who has not submitted all of the evidence listed, the case owner must issue a ‘short’ COA, which does not confirm a right to take employment. Anyone issued with a ‘short’ COA due to their failure to submit the required evidence cannot later be issued with a ‘long’ COA if they submit this evidence.

In relation to persons who have retained a right of residence, home office guidance states that case owners must issue a ‘long’ COA to anyone who applies for a residence card because they retain a right of residence under regulation 10, provided they submit the following evidence:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid EEA ID card or EEA passport for the EEA national
  • evidence of termination of relationship (for example, decree absolute, final order of
  • dissolution of a civil partnership, death certificate) and either:
  • evidence the EEA national exercised free movement rights in the UK as a jobseeker, worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or student at the date of the termination
  • evidence the EEA national had permanent residence in the UK at the date of the termination

The Guidance clarifies that in cases of retained rights, there may be some circumstances where the applicant is unable to provide either the EEA national’s identity or evidence they were exercising free movement rights at the date of the termination.

If the applicant provides a reasonable explanation for the missing information (for example because the applicant was the victim of domestic violence by the EEA national), then a ‘long’ COA can be issued.

In relation to applications from an extended family member of an (EEA) national under, home office guidance clarifies that extended family members, including durable partners, of EEA nationals do not enjoy an automatic right of residence in the UK until they have been issued with a document by the Home Office confirming such a right. Home office case owners must issue a ‘short’ COA to extended family members who have submitted an application for a residence card regardless of the level of evidence submitted with their application.

Relevant Home Office policy Guidance is “ Processes and procedures: EEA documentation applications v3.0 Published for Home Office staff on 08 October 2015”.

(5)Passports and issue of Certificates of application: Derivative  Residence Card  Applications

Home Office Case owners are required to issue applicants for a directive residence card with a ‘long’ COA confirming a right to take employment while their application is under consideration if they submit the following information:

  • a valid passport
  • a valid passport or EEA identity (ID) card for the person they claim to derive a right from
  • evidence of relationship to the person for whom they claim to be the primary carer

If any of the above evidence is not submitted with the application, the caseowner must issue a ‘short’ COA.

Relevant Home Office policy Guidance is “ Processes and procedures: EEA documentation applications v3.0 Published for Home Office staff on 08 October 2015”.

(6)Requesting the return of a passport or other documentation:

Having regard to home office policy guidance, where an individual requires their documentation to return voluntarily and where there are no reasons to doubt the individual genuinely intends to travel and the individual has produced proof that travel tickets have been purchased for a specific date of travel,   home office caseworkers must send the passport to the port of departure and then notify the migrant of the contact details and arrangements for collecting their passport at the point of departure.

Home Office policy guidance states that travel documents must not be handed back to the subject or their representative before they arrive at the port, as this is the main and easiest method available to find out whether or not the subject actually leaves the UK and prevents them destroying documents to frustrate removal.

Where the home office receive a request for a document to be returned for any other reason, the case owner must tell the holder this is not possible, but the Home Office can provide them with a certified copy. Policy guidance states that there is no agreed standard wording for this certification, but it is advised it should include the fact the Home Office is holding the document and contact details in case a third party such as a bank wish to confirm this fact.

The relevant Home Office policy Guidance is “Retention of valuable documents, version 7.0 Valid from 30 January 2014”.

Relevant   is the Home Office, “ Getting visa, immigration or citizenship documents back”  information leaflet at https://www.gov.uk/visa-documents-returned.

A person can ask for their  passport and other documents to be returned if they sent them with  their  application but need them urgently. How to   do this depends on whether they applied in the UK or not, and what type of application they have made.

If a person applied outside the UK, they can contact the visa application centre where they  applied. A person cannot get a refund if  their  application has been processed.

If a person applied in the UK, they can complete the online form to get their documents returned.. This form cannot be used  if a person has  applied for asylum or  their  application has been refused. A  person will  usually get  their  documents back within 10 working days.

A person   can get their  documents back quicker if they  ask for a faster decision their application. This costs £400, in addition to the application fee they have  already paid.

A person can use a cancellation form if they  no longer need their  documents returned. They are  however unable  to  cancel their  request if it has already been processed.

(7)Request for return of documents and withdrawal of application:

The Home Office have made provision for an on- line form to be used to withdraw applications made in the UK or ask for documents to be returned. The form cannot be used if a person :

  • wants to enquire about the progress of their application.
  • has applied for a visa from outside the UK. They must contact the visa application centre where the application was made.
  • Has applied for asylum in the UK. They must contact their case owner.
  • has been notified that their application has been refused. They should follow the instructions on their refusal notice or contact the Central Voluntary Departures team on 0300 0040202 or voluntarydeparturequeries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.
  • their documents have been lost in the post. They must contact the courier concerned directly.

Although the home office state that they will aim to return the documents within 10 working days, they also state that this may not be possible in certain circumstances.

The Home Office may also refuse to return the requested documents if:

  • They have refused the application.
  • There is an outstanding criminal prosecution against the applicant.
  • The applicant has applied for Citizenship; their Knowledge of Life certificates will not be returned if the application is successful.

If a person does not want to withdraw the application, then the on line form clarifies that they can only use a returned passport to prove identity. Where the home office later identify that the applicant has used a returned passport to travel outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the on line form states that the home office may withdraw, void or refuse the application. If the applicant does travel they may also be unable to re-enter the UK.

Where  an applicant indicates that they are requesting the return of the main applicant’s passport for travel, they are informed that they must withdraw their application if they wish to use the passport for travel outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The applicant is informed that withdrawing their application will also withdraw any applications for dependents linked to the application. All documents submitted will be returned to the applicant. The application fee will not be returned. The applicant is informed that if their leave has expired while they were awaiting a decision, they will become an overstayer on the date the application is withdrawn and any subsequent in country application that they make will be out of time.

(8) Expediting an application and enabling return/retention of passport: appointment at a premium service centre:

An applicant may be able to apply in person at a premium service centre where they are in the UK and want to extend their stay or apply for settlement. A person must have an appointment to visit a premium service centre.

Not all types of application can be made in person as persons wishing to use this service must be eligible to do so.

A person must pay the following fees per person when booking their appointment:

  • £500 application fee which includes the £100 booking fee
  • the fee for their visa type
  • the healthcare surcharge (if they need to pay it)

A person will have to pay an extra £63 fee at their  appointment if they  make a booking outside normal office hours.

Biometric information  such as fingerprints and a photograph will be taken at the  appointment.

Any dependents named on the application must come with the  applicant to the  appointment.

An applicant will be told on the day:

  • how long it will take to process their application (most applications are processed within 2 hours 30 minutes)
  • whether their application can be processed that day – and, if it cannot what the options are

If the application can be completed that day:

  • the applicant’s documents will be given back to them
  • their   biometric residence permit will be ordered (it will take 7 to 10 days to arrive)

The biometric residence permit will be sent to the applicant’s home address unless the premium service centre is asked to send it somewhere else.

An appointment may be cancelled and the applicant will not receive  a refund of the £100 booking fee if they:

  • applied to use the service but were not eligible
  • did not  bring the right documents or a completed application form
  • cancelled their appointment too late – unless there were exceptional circumstances, eg a medical emergency or severe weather
  • did not pay the correct fees
  • did not   pay the healthcare surcharge (or didn’t pay the right amount) and they were not exempt from paying

Where an applicant booked an appointment as part of their  online application, they  must withdraw their application to cancel their appointment . They will  need to apply again for a new appointment. They will not get a refund if they  withdraw  their application.

If an applicant booked to apply in person at a premium service centre, they  can cancel or reschedule their  appointment if they  booked to apply in person at a premium service centre. They must cancel at least 5 working days before their  appointment for a full refund,  reschedule at least 48 hours before their appointment

They will not need to pay the fees again if they  reschedule their  appointment.

Refunds for missed appointments and cancellations can take up to 4 weeks and are paid onto the credit or debit card used to make the original payment.

A person automatically gets a full refund if they  cancel at least 5 working days before their appointment. This includes the:

  • £500 application fee which includes the £100 booking fee
  • fee for       the visa type
  • healthcare surcharge (if they need to pay it)
  • £63 fee if they booked an appointment outside office hours

A person will not get the £100 booking fee back if they miss their  appointment or cancel less than 5 working days before their  appointment, unless there are exceptional circumstances, eg:

  • a medical emergency
  • a family emergency
  • severe weather
  • travel disruptions

If there are exceptional circumstance, an email can be sent asking for a full refund to, PSCAppointmentRefunds@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

(9)Expediting an application and enabling  return/retention of passport: Super Premium Service

The super premium service is a mobile service for those applying whist in the UK to extend their stay or apply for settlement. A courier will collect  an applicant’s application forms and documents. Premium service staff will visit the applicant  to get their  biometric information (fingerprints and photo) and their  signature.

An applicant will usually get a decision on their  application within 24 hours.

An applicant can choose the location and time of the visit.

The fee for this service is £8,750 per visit, plus the premium service fee for their application type.

An applicant can contact the mobile coordinator, (ADC_MobileEnrolmentT@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) to check if they  eligible to apply and to book an appointment.

(10) Expediting an application and enabling  return  of passport- application to transfer a standard route (postal) application to premium service

On  19 May 2016, the Home Office published a Premium visa upgrade request form ie  an application form to transfer a standard route (postal) application to premium service.

Completed forms can be emailed to premiumupgrade@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. There is provision within the form to explain why an applicant wishes to use the premium service.

Reasons can include:

  • Urgent travel
  • Needing documents to prove identity
  • For an employer or third party
  • Wanting a quicker decision
  • For other reasons

If the request to transfer to premium service is accepted, an applicant  will  be contacted  by 5pm on the same day. If they  are not accepted, they  will not receive a response.

After assessing the  initial request to transfer  the  application to premium service, it may be necessary for an applicant  to attend a Premium Service Centre in person which attracts a fee of £500 per person as it will require an appointment. If this is necessary,  the home office  will contact an applicant  as soon as possible.

The form has another accompanying form and  Guidance, “ Payment arrangements for transferring a standard route (postal) application to premium service”. An applicant must  ensure they are applying under an eligible category before proceeding with  their  request. Any requests to transfer applications to premium service for application routes not currently accepted by this service will not be dealt with.

The Home Office will take payment using the credit/debit card details provided on the  form. The application will not be processed until  payment has been confirmed. When payment has been confirmed,  the home office will send  the applicant  a payment reference via email.

For single applicants transferring a  postal application to the premium service, the fee is £400.00 if not attending in person  or £500.00 if attending in person. For an applicant transferring  their  postal application to the premium service  with one  dependant, the fee is £800.00 if not attending in person  or  £1000.00  if attending in person. The fee increases with each additional dependant.

(11)Expediting an  EEA National’s application and enabling  retention  of passportapplications considered by the Premium Service Centre

EEA national qualified persons can arrange to attend the PSC in Croydon to have their application for a registration certificate considered in person and dealt with over the counter. They must book an appointment in advance.

Only EEA nationals applying for a registration certificate as a qualified person will be dealt with by the PSC. All other applicants must apply by post.

Relevant Home Office policy Guidance is “ Processes and procedures: EEA documentation applications v3.0 Published for Home Office staff on 08 October 2015”.

(12)Expediting return of passports/Documents: Utilising the home office Complaints procedure:

If an applicant is dissatisfied with the service they  receive from the home office, they  can contact the Home Office. The Home Office defines a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction with the services provided by the Home Office. This is not the same as general correspondence from members of Parliament, the public expressing disagreement with a policy, or requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

A person can send an  email to public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

A person can write to the home office:

Home Office Direct, communications unit,  2 Marsham Street,  London,  SW1P 4DF .

The Home Office fax number is: 020 7035 4745.

A person can also telephone the government switchboard on 020 7035 4848.

If a person complains in writing,  the home office  aim to respond within 20 working days. If it is not possible to give  a full reply within this time (for example, if the  complaint requires more detailed investigation),  the home office state that they  will inform  what is being done and when a person  can expect a full response.

The home office state that they will acknowledge where things could have been done better, and tell a person what will be done to avoid the same thing happening again. Equally, if they  do not uphold  they complaint, they  will let  a person know why.

The home office also state that their response will include details of what to do if a person  believes their  complaint has not been dealt with properly. The person  should start by contacting  the home office  again and asking for their  complaint to be passed on to a more senior member of staff.

If a person remain unsatisfied,  they can also ask  their  member of Parliament to refer  their case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Other areas of the Home Office have their own complaints procedures:

If complaining  about UK Visas and Immigration, a person can email or write if:

  • They have a complaint about UKVI service or professional conduct
  • the incident happened within the last 3 months. Complaints should be made no later than 3 months after the date of the incident unless there are exceptional circumstances.

An person can email  at: complaints@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk if they  have a complaint about UKVI  service or professional conduct.

Alternatively a person can write to:

Complaints Allocation , Hub Central Point of Receipt,  11th Floor,  Lunar House,  40 Wellesley Road, Croydon,  CR9 2BY

It is also possible download and print the Home Office complaints form for UK Visas and Immigration.

Complaints are stated not to affect  UKVI decision-making process and making a complaint does not  mean that  a person’s  application will be dealt with more quickly or more slowly.

UKVI state that they will investigate  the  complaint and reply to  within 20 working days. They also state that they  will contact a person  if they  need more time to investigate the  complaint. If  the  complaint suggests serious professional misconduct they  aim to respond within 12 weeks, following an independent investigation.

The complaint will be managed by their correspondence team. A person   will be sent  an automatic acknowledgement when they  lodge a complaint and they  may be  contacted during an investigation for further information.

Where a person does not think their complaint has been dealt with correctly,  they  can ask  for a  review  of the matter.

The correspondence team will undertake an independent review of the  complaint and whether it has been dealt with properly. They will tell  the person of  their findings within 20 working days of the date when a person  asks for a review.

If not satisfied with the response, and a person has  already gone through the formal complaint procedure, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman may be able to assist.

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