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What To Do If Detained By Immigration

If you are in the UK illegally then you run the risk of being detained by immigration officials. Even during this process, you still have rights and are entitled to legal representation. It is important that you have an action plan in place in case the worst happens, which if you're in the UK illegally, is highly likely to happen.

Unfortunately for many illegal immigrants, they often have little in the way of support or anywhere to turn to. In this article, we will provide some helpful advice for what to do if you have been detained, and give you some strategies to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of staying in the UK.

Where Am I Most Likely To Be Detained?

You could in theory be detained at any point during your stay in the UK as an illegal immigrant, but there are certainly times that you are significantly more likely to be detained. Of course this information is not likely to prevent you being detained in the first place, but could help in the preparation required when you are detained. The list below is of the most likely places you are likely to be detained in the UK if you're here illegally:

  • Entering the country for the first time
  • When claiming asylum at a screening interview
  • When you have been refused asylum (most likely at your home address)
  • When you visit an office for your regular sign in

Of course these are not the only occasions that you could be detained. You could be detained at any point and you should bear this in mind when it comes to preparing for detention.

How To Prepare For Being Detained

Of course it is difficult to give an exhaustive list of preparations that you should make if you are likely to be detained. There are significantly different circumstances that depend upon your situation and life. But underneath, we have laid out a checklist that we believe should be the minimum preparation that any illegal immigrant should make when there is a likelihood that they could be detained.

  • Have a list of emergency contacts - this could be vital, especially if you have family in the UK. It will need to contain a list of those who will need to be informed of your detention. These need to include family members and of course any legal representation that you may have already. You will need to ensure that you leave a copy with a friend/loved one so they know what to do
  • Medicines - if you are on medication, it is important that you keep these with you at all times. If possible, also take your prescription - if you are detained, it will help to ensure that you keep receiving the medication that you need
  • Copies of your documents - these may be required if you can get legal help. They should not be taken from you

There are many other things that you may wish to consider, but if you are detained, these will most likely be removed from you. So ensure that you have these things as a minimum to ensure that you can get access to the people and medication that you need.

Who Should Not Be Detained

There are several mitigating circumstances where illegal immigrants should not be detained. The Home Office set out the current policy in 2016 that prevents the detention of illegal immigrants in many at risk categories as laid out below:

  • Those suffering from mental illness or impairment - this depends on the seriousness of the condition - if you or a family member has a diagnosis, it is important to keep this documentation with you.
  • Victims of torture
  • Victims of sexual or gender based violence (including female genital mutilation)
  • Victims of modern slavery or human trafficking
  • Illegal immigrants who are pregnant
  • Those with serious disability
  • Those with serious illness
  • Those aged over 70
  • Transexual or intersex persons

Documentary evidence may be required to prove any of these circumstances, but if you have proof, you should not be detained. If you need help or have any queries on who should and should not be detained, you should speak to our immigration solicitors can help to establish whether you should be exempt from detention.

When Will I Be Removed From The Country

If you have been detained in an immigration detention centre then it is likely that the Home Office will seek to remove you from the country. That being said, the process for doing so can be painfully slow. There is no time limit for immigration detentions in the UK and it is possible that you could be held in an immigration detention centre indefinitely. It is for this reason that you need to ensure that you have legal advice in your corner. A copy of your emergency contacts should be left with a loved one or a friend so that they can contact your solicitor.

You may be extremely worried about being returned to your country of origin. In many cases illegal immigrants come from some of the world's most dangerous countries. It is the inherent danger of these countries that makes illegal immigrants take the risk to come to the United Kingdom in the first place and seek asylum. If your country of origin is dangerous, or you face persecution if you go back, please let our legal team know and we will do all that we can to ensure that you are not returned back to a country where you are likely to come to harm.

Where Can I Get More Advice?

If you need advice for yourself or a friend/loved one then please speak to one of our immigration lawyers. Get in touch today and we can start the process of trying to assist you during your/your loved ones detention. We have helped significant numbers of those whose plight seemed impossible, so please get in touch.

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I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

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I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

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As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

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"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

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"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

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"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

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Top Notch Immigration Service

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Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

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Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

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"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

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