This information is for people held in the UK under immigration powers in removal centres and prisons. It may also be useful for individuals and organisations supporting people in detention.
It will help you understand the consequences of both cooperation and non-cooperation with Home Office steps to document people for removal. It will also provide advice for those wishing to prove that they are cooperating with the documentation process and the steps that they can take to evidence their cooperation.
Home Office country returns guide
This document provides information on travel documentation processes for different countries, including timescales.
Are you intending to cooperate with the documentation process?
The advantages and disadvantages of cooperation
- If you cooperate with the documentation process you may be issued with a travel document that may mean the authorities can remove you from the UK.
- Where a person has evidence that they are cooperating with the documentation process they can use this to argue that they will not abscond if they are released from detention.
- Evidence of cooperation can be used to support a bail application.
- Evidence of cooperation with the documentation process may also be used to prove that continued detention has become unlawful.
If you intend to cooperate with the documentation process, please click here for more information.
The advantages and disadvantages of non-cooperation
- A time will come when people who do not cooperate with the documentation process must be released from immigration detention (even if the Home Office argues that they will abscond if released from detention).
- If a person does not cooperate with the documentation process, the Home Office will argue that this is evidence that they risk absconding if they are released from detention.
- The courts may sympathise with the above view, making a bail application or a claim of unlawful detention difficult to succeed.
- Some people who do not cooperate with the documentation process may be detained for a longer period, although they cannot be detained forever.
- There is a risk that a person may be charged with a Section 35 (under the 2004 Act) criminal offence of non-cooperation that carries a maximum prison sentence of 2 years.
Length of detention
The length of detention in all cases of non-cooperation or cooperation with the documentation process will depend on individual factors in each case including:
- Whether or not a person is cooperating with the documentation process
- How long it is likely to take for the Home Office to obtain a travel document to enable a person to be removed
- Whether or not there is a risk of a person offending or causing harm if released from detention and the assessed level of that risk
- Whether there are other factors that work in a person’s favour such as: good behaviour; a history of complying with reporting and residence restrictions; a family life in the UK; legal steps that may be being taken to help a person apply to remain in the UK.
Home Office obligations
Whether or not a person is cooperating with the documentation process, the Home Office must:
- Provide evidence that it is taking steps to obtain a travel document for a person to enable their removal.
- Show that the steps that it is taking are meaningful and likely to result in a travel document being issued.
- Show that a travel document is likely to be issued to the person facing removal within a reasonable period.
- The reasonable period or length of detention will then be assessed according to the individual factors in each case (see above under Length of Detention).
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