Retention of documents by the Home Office
Produced in partnership with Christopher R. Cole and Nathan Woodcock of Parker Rhodes Hickmotts
Retention of documents by the Home Office

The following Immigration guidance note Produced in partnership with Christopher R. Cole and Nathan Woodcock of Parker Rhodes Hickmotts provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Retention of documents by the Home Office
  • Primary legislation and Home Office guidance
  • Options available where the applicant wishes to make a further application
  • Options available where the applicant wishes to leave the UK
  • Other potential issues arising from the retention of documents

The Home Office has a policy of retaining valuable original documents where an in-country application has been refused or has been deemed to be invalid in circumstances where the applicant has no leave other than statutory leave under sections 3C or 3D of the Immigration Act 1971 (IA 1971). Note that IA 1971, s 3D was deleted with effect from 1 December 2016. For further information, see Practice Note: Dealing with curtailment and cancellation. This has led to a number of difficulties in situations such as submitting a new application for leave to remain or arranging voluntary departure.

This Practice Note deals with the following aspects of retention of valuable documents:

  1. the primary legislation and relevant Home Office guidance

  2. the options available where the Home Office has retained documents following a refusal and the applicant wishes to make a further application

  3. the options available where the Home Office has retained documents following a refusal and the applicant wishes to retrieve these documents to leave the UK, and

  4. other potential issues arising from the retention of documents and how these may be addressed

Primary legislation and Home Office guidance

The Home Office’s power to retain documents stems from section 17 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004. This provision states:

'Where a document comes into the possession of the