Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers
Produced in partnership with Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers
Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers

The following Immigration guidance note Produced in partnership with Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers
  • Premises
  • The power to enter and search premises for persons
  • The power to search for and seize evidence
  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to immigration officers and designated customs officials in England and Wales) Order 2013
  • The power to conduct examinations
  • Enforcement power
  • Access to legal advice

Immigration officers (IOs) have a number of statutorily-conferred powers to enter premises to search for persons and evidence and, on entry, to arrest persons and seize evidence. These powers have increased significantly with the entry into force of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to immigration officers and designated customs officials in England and Wales) Order 2013, SI 2013/1542, and again with the enactment of the Immigration Act 2014 (IA 2014) and the Immigration Act 2016 (IA 2016).

Premises

'Premises' are any place and, in particular any:

  1. vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft

  2. offshore installation

  3. renewable energy installation, or

  4. tent or moveable structure

The power to enter and search premises for persons

An IO can lawfully enter a premises in four different ways:

  1. entry to search and/or arrest with a warrant

  2. entry to search and/or arrest without a warrant

  3. Assistant Director (AD) letter (for business premises), and

  4. informed consent

IOs have the power to enter, by force if necessary, premises for the purpose of searching for, and arresting persons suspected of a wide range of ‘relevant offences’ as set out in the Immigration Act 1971 (IA 1971, s 28B(5)), including:

  1. illegal entry

  2. overstaying

  3. breach of conditions

  4. failing to report a medical examination

  5. unlawful disembarkation

  6. entry or remaining by deception

  7. employment in breach of a condition of entry

  8. failure to co-operate with