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Home Office voluntary return

The Home Office can fund and arrange travel for people who wish to return to their country of origin and may be able to provide additional financial assistance in some cases.

Assistance with a voluntary return can be provided to a person who does not have any immigration permission or has been refused permission to enter or stay in the UK, or a person with a pending immigration or asylum application that they want to withdraw.

The Home Office can organise and fund the flight but will usually expect the person to arrange their own documentation if they do not already have this. The Home Office may provide additional support in obtaining documentation when a person has a vulnerability, which means that it would be difficult for them to obtain documents by themselves.

A person may qualify for additional reintegration assistance of up to £2000 to help them set up a home or business when they return if they are in one of the following groups:

  • They have a current asylum claim or appeal that they intend to withdraw, or are Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) following an asylum application
  • Families with a child under 18
  • A child under 18 who will be travelling alone
  • A victim of trafficking or modern slavery
  • They have a medical condition
  • They were previously granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK outside the Immigration Rules, which has expired

The Home Office may be able to assist an EEA national to return if they are without status or leave in the UK. Depending on their circumstances and immigration history, the Voluntary Returns Service may be able to arrange and pay for their flight home and they may be eligible for financial support in their country of origin.

A person will usually only have one opportunity to apply for assisted return. An application can be made online or the Voluntary Returns Service can be contacted by telephone. The Home Office provides more information about returning home voluntarily.

When a person is considering whether to return to their country of origin, they would need to be signposted to get legal advice from an immigration adviser so that they are clear about the implications of this.

A non-EEA national who undertakes a voluntary return that is funded by the Home Office (with or without a reintegration package) will be subject to a re-entry ban two or five years, depending on how long they were in the UK after being issued with a liability to removal notice or becoming Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE).

An EEA national who is considering returning may wish to find out how this may impact on their future residence rights in the UK and whether they may also need to make an application for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.  

Immigration terms

Appeal rights exhausted (ARE)

The status of a person whose asylum or immigration claim has been refused when they have come to the end of the appeal process without success or have no further right of appeal.