Zimbabwean Returnees: What you need to know about the current Emergency Travel Document application process

The Country Returns Guide contains Home Office guidance on the documents required and processes for returning those subject to removal to their country of origin.

Country returns guide: February 2020, currently provides as follows in relation to the ETD application process for Zimbabwean returnees:

“All ETD applications should be submitted to the Returns Logistics Team 1.

A mandatory face to face interview will then be arranged through RL Country Liaison and Documentation team 1. This will be through interview schemes at IRC’s, Reporting Centres and prisons. Interview outcomes will be notified via CID.   

Only voluntary cases can be interviewed at the High Commission in London. In such cases the ETD application should be signed by the subject and submitted direct to the HC. RL team 1 will arrange an interview”.

In relation to intended returnees who will be made to face Zimbabwean Embassy officials, where an expired Zimbabwean passport already lies on the Home Office file, ETD’s are likely to be issued fairly quickly.  This much is evident from the outcome of disclosed Home Office Minutes/Case Notes following  Subject Access Requests.

In one instance, a subject attended at Becket House for a nationality interview on 11 December 2019, was met by an Embassy Official and by 17 December 2019, an ETD Agreement had been received from Zimbabwe House.

Returnees have had the following recorded on their Home office files on receipt of  an agreement to issue a travel document:

“ETD Agreement received 17/12/2019.

Confirmed Name:

Confirmed DOB:       

PLEASE NOTE: Returns Logistics Team 1 will send out communications to the business once Removal Directions can be set. PPT quality  photos required. 

When  Removal Directions can be set, please inform Returns Logistics team 9 giving 10 clear working day notice.

Regional spreadsheet updated & will be disseminated tomorrow”.                                                                                                                                                                   

Invitation letter to Nationality Interview

Invitation letters from the Home Office in relation to nationality interviews, will run along the following lines:

You are requested to attend and interview at Becket House Reporting Centre, 1st Floor, St Thomas Street, London, PE6 0E2, on 15 March 2020 at 3.00pm.

You must attend with any dependants such as your husband/wife, dependant children or dependant adults. You should contact  the headmaster/mistress of your children’s school to notify them of the children’s requirement to attend this interview; this should enable the absence  to be recorded  as an authorised period of absence.

The interview is required to collate and verify  personal data about you and your family. You are required to bring with you any documents which can confirm yours and your family’s nationality such as:

  • National Passports(old/expired ones or new ones)
  • Birth Certificate ( UK ones for UK born children/spouse and any from your country of origin)
  • National Identity Cards
  • Military Service Cards
  • Military Service Cards/completion Certificates( from your country of origin)
  • Driving licenses ( from your country of origin ( expired or current)
  • Educational certificates, and
  • Letters from family in your home country

If you are unable to attend the appointment for any reason such as sickness, you should contact this office immediately, as failure to do so my affect any outstanding claim you may have with the Home Office.

Please bring this letter with you together with the documents detailed above and any other documentation you have received from the Home Office”.

As is known, mandatory face to face interviews are being carried out, without any prior notice given that Zimbabwean Embassy officials will be present.

Prior to the nationality interview taking place, Home Office Minutes/Case Notes will usually have recorded as follows:

“Criminal Casework Review

ETD IS THE CURRENT BARRIER TO REMOVAL

Returns to Zimbabwe are starting to resume. Foreign National Offender to be considered for future interview scheme.

Currently appeal rights exhausted, holds original expired passport.

Compliant with reporting

Zimbabwe ETD Interview Scheme

This case has been included on the Interview Scheme taking place at Becket House on 11/12/2019”

Following the nationality interview, all that the  Home Office Minute/Case Notes will record is the following:

“ZWE ETD Interview Scheme

Subject was interviewed by ZWE official at Beckett House RC on 11/12/2019.

CID will be updated when an outcome is received”.

No written record of that interview, or what was asked by the Embassy official and the returnee’s responses will be volunteered by the Home Office within the disclosed Subject Access Request outcome.

ETD Application Checklist

The Home Office appear to have an ETD document Checklists and that from Criminal Casework  Leeds is to the following effect:

  • Detention status? Released- – Subject reports every month on the 20th  at Becket House.
  • Current case status? Subject has been issued with a notice of Deportation order, and  his appeal was refused in 2017.
  • Have you checked to see if there are any outstanding applications/barriers to removal?
  • New photographs included and uploaded to CID? If not taken within last 6/12months  please
  • Has CID been checked to confirm whether a travel document is held or has previously been requested?
  • Has CID been checked for landing card  details?
  • Have all files been checked for Foreign National Offender’s original/copy of passport or evidence of identity or nationality?
  • Have CRS checks been done & included  where relevant?
  • Have the Foreign National’s fingerprints been taken?
  • If applicable, have the pre-verification checks been carried out through the RLO & are the results attached?
  • Has a negative immigration decision been served?
  • Have you confirmed that there is no evidence on file to indicate the Foreign National Offender has a fear of return to their own country, which has not been considered?
  • Have you confirmed  there is no ( implied) mention of asylum in ETD application?***
  • Have the correct travel document forms been completed?
  • Do the biodata  & other relevant forms state the correct Home Office reference, name, nationality, aliases, place and date of birth, last address in the country of origin, passport details?
  • Have all details been checked & verified  on internet, ie schools, hospitals etc?
  • Have you provided any other country specific nationality forms?
  • Do we have supporting evidence of identity/ nationality for the Foreign National Offender, ie passport, birth certificate, ID card?
  • Have files of family members been obtained and checked?
  • Do we have any supporting evidence for family of identity/nationality passport, birth certificate, ID card?
  • Has any supporting evidence been translated?
  • Have the minimum requirements for travel document as per nationality been completed?
  • Submission letter completed  correctly?
  • Country Guidance printed and attached to checklist?
  • Does the application need sending to Returns Logistics or mission?
  • Does the Foreign National Offender need an interview?

Note, the question: Have you confirmed there is no ( implied) mention of asylum in ETD application?

The Home Office will of course  indicate in the Checklist that there is no such mention however the underlying issue, self-evidently, even in the absence of documentation or information within the disclosed file, will be whether it is possible  to mount a fresh claim for asylum  on the basis that by her own actions, the Secretary of  State, in inviting  an official from the Zimbabwean Embassy to an interview  at the Home Office, might have brought an applicant to the direct adverse  attention  of the Zimbabwean authorities.

Submission letter to the Zimbabwean Embassy

The Home Office will need to send the submission letter to the Embassy with the ETD application and such letters are written as below:

Returns Logistics ( RL)

Immigration Enforcement

15th Floor, Lunar House

40 Wellesley Road

Croydon

CR9 2BY

Tel: +44(0) 208 196 0151

Zimbabwe House

429 Strand

London

WC2R 0JR

Application for a travel document- Non detained

Applicant’s Name: Ms Salllle Alllle

Date of Birth:00/00/1900

Our Reference: A0000000

The above named does not have/qualify for leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, does not hold a valid travel document and authority to remove them from the United Kingdom has been granted.

 Please find enclosed a travel document application. I would be grateful if you would issue a travel document as soon as possible so that the Home Office can arrange removal.

Should you require any further information, the contact details and telephone number for the Returns Logistics unit are at the top of this letter. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours Faithfully,

Country Manager

Country Returns, Operations and Strategy

Bio Data Information

The Bio Data Information contains responses to the following questions:

  • Home Office reference number
  • Port Reference Number
  • Family name
  • Nationality
  • Other names
  • Male or Female
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Nationality
  • Last known address in country of origin: Telephone number
  • Passport number
  • Issuing Government or Authority
  • Place of Issue
  • Date of Issue
  • Valid until
  • Mother’s name
  • Place of birth
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Father’s name
  • Place of birth
  • Date of birth
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Last employer in country  of origin
  • Address
  • Date of employment
  • Schools attended in country of origin
  • Name and address of family doctor
  • Name and address of place of worship
  • Name and address of local police stations
  • Name and address of local hospitals

Documents Submitted to Zimbabwe House

As per  the Country returns guide: February 2020,  the following minimum requirements in relation to an application for an ETD are:

  • submission letter
  • bio-data form
  • 4 photographs of passport standard, cut to size
  • supporting evidence, if available
  • full UK birth certificate must be provided for children born in the UK  
  • all supporting evidence accompanying an travel document must be translated into English
  • Fee £80. To be submitted to RL team 1, 15th Floor Lunar House

The Home Office will submit the ETD application to the Zimbabwean Embassy with the above mentioned submission letter.

Home Office Minutes/Case Notes will usually record as follows in this regards:

“ETD pack checked contains submission letter, interview letter, photos, bio data, copy of passport”.

Subject Access Request: absence of relevant disclosure

The online subject access request form requires clarification of the purpose for which  disclosure is required.  

A suggested format to be improved upon, may state the purpose as below:

“To ascertain whether Home Office actions  have placed the Applicant at risk and/or breached his confidentiality. All communication to and from the Home Office and the Zimbabwean Embassy authorities in relation to this Applicant. All interview records and Minutes/Case Notes as regards the meeting of 11 December 2019 between the Applicant and Zimbabwean Embassy Officials. Minutes/Notes/communication between the Embassy and Home Office & between Home Office staff  after 11 December 2019 are also required”.

As above, the Home Office will likely not volunteer disclosure of an interview record or Minute/Case Notes in relation to the face to face interview with the Embassy official. Apart from the submission letter to the Embassy, neither will they likely offer any other documentary communication  that may exist between the Home Office and  the Zimbabwean Embassy before or after the nationality  interview. The ETD Agreement received will also likely not be disclosed.

Instead the Home Office may respond as follows:

 “Unfortunately, there were no records of the minutes of and after the meeting of 11 December 2019 with the Zimbabwean Embassy on our file”.

In  the absence of the requested documentation and information, it is not apparent how such a  response can be  relied upon to sustain a position that  there has been no mention(implied) to the Zimbabwean Embassy of an asylum or other breach during the travel document application process.

If not satisfied with the response to the Subject Access Request, consider writing to the following address within 3months, expressing dissatisfaction with the response:

Customer Service Team

Subject Access Request Unit

UKVI, 11th Floor

Lunar House

40 Wellesley Road

Croydon, CR9 2BY                                                            

Additionally, consider sending a complaint to the Home Office Complaints Unit.

Where relevant disclosure is still not forthcoming, send a letter before claim setting out reasons why judicial review action is appropriate in the circumstances.

Leave a Reply