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Voluntary Returns Service (VRS)

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

The Voluntary Returns Service’s (VRS) role is to offer support to foreigners in the UK who want to return to their home country. The Home Office recognises that there are people who have no means of doing so, or who need assistance, depending on their personal circumstances.

Am I eligible to apply for the VRS?

It is important to read the information regarding your eligibility for this VRS before applying. If any of the following apply, you may be eligible if you:

● Are in the UK illegally;

● If you have overstayed your visa or permission to stay;

● Have withdrawn, or want to withdraw, your application to stay in the UK;

● Have made a claim for asylum;

● Are a victim of modern slavery.

How can I be sure that I am not eligible?

You cannot apply for this service if you:

● Have permission to stay in the UK;

● Have been given a prison sentence;

● Have been convicted of an offense;

● Have been given a deportation order;

● Have Humanitarian protection;

● Have indefinite leave to remain;

● Have Refugee status in the UK;

● Are a Service Provider with a Swiss visa;

● Have a Frontier Worker permit;

● Have an S2 Healthcare Visitor visa;

● Have settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme.

Is it possible to receive financial support through the VRS?

You may also be eligible to apply for financial support from £1,500 up to £3,000, which you can use to find somewhere to live, find a job or start a business in your home country.

How do I know if I am eligible to receive financial support?

You may be eligible to receive this financial support if:

● You are returning to a developing country;

● Your claim for asylum in the UK has been refused;

● You are a victim of modern slavery;

●You are part of a family group that will travel together, including underage family members;

● Are under 18 and traveling alone;

● Are under 21 and a care leaver;

● You have no shelter;

● Need more help with your return.

What is the difference between the Voluntary Return and the Assisted Return?

An Assisted Return (AR) is a specific type of voluntary return to assist those who require more help to return home. For example, those returning to a developing country, those with complex needs, or those in a vulnerable situation. This includes supporting resettlement in the country of return by providing financial support and guidance from an overseas provider to sustain their return.

What do I need to apply for the VRS?

The online application is quite simple, you will only need your address in the UK and an email address.

Can the VRS buy me a ticket home?

If you need the VRS to buy a flight for you then they will make all the arrangements and help you get to your place of departure. However, you must be eligible for this service.

I have already bought my ticket; can I still apply to get other types of support?

You can still get help if you are funding the return yourself. However, do not apply for the VRS if you have booked a flight to leave the UK in the next 7 days or have already applied for voluntary return and are waiting to hear if your application was successful.

How does the VRS work?

The process to begin the VRS begins by applying online or via a phone call to 0300 004 0202.

I am not confident applying online, can I get help?

You can get help completing the online form if you do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device, or if you do not have access to the internet or a device.

You can contact the voluntary returns service by calling 0300 004 0202, from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm (UK time).

I have applied online, what happens next?

The Home Office will contact you within 3 working days to let you know they have received your application and if you have been successful.

Do I need a valid passport to apply for the VRS?

Ideally, you should have a valid passport before applying for the VRS. However, it is also possible to apply for the VRS without a travel document if you are not sure how to obtain one. In this case, the VRS can help you get a one-way travel document.

I have a medical condition; can I get assistance to travel through the VRS?

Yes. You may need to visit a doctor and explain your situation in order to obtain a fit-to-fly certificate or provide confirmation of what medical support you will need during your journey home.

The VRS can hire a specialist medical escort to assist you in case of physical limitations which restrict your capacity to travel. The medical contractor can supply hoists to help you onto the plane, and a door-to-door pick-up from your place of residence to the departure port.

Can I get support for accommodation?

The VRS does not provide accommodation, except for accommodation due to asylum or modern slavery. If this is the case, then you will continue to receive this accommodation until you leave the UK.

If you currently receive accommodation through another provider, such as a local authority, the VRS can work with them on a possible short-term extension while arrangements are made for you to leave the UK.

Alternatively, the VRS suggests charitable organisations which may be able to help you with short-term accommodation.

Will the VRS support me to take my pet back with me to my home country?

If you have a support animal, the VRS can work with you to accommodate your pet on your journey. However, you will have to access PetAir UK to provide additional support.

In most cases, your animal will need to be documented in order to return with you. To obtain a pet passport, your pet will need a microchip and a vaccination against rabies.

How has the VRS helped Brazilians in the UK?

The VRS shares case studies about their services. One of these case studies is about a Brazilian family who got help from the VRS to return to Brazil during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To read more about the VRS case studies, including this case, visit the GOV.UK website.

Can you help me to use this service?

Yes. Suppose you would like more information about this service, in addition to the British Government website, you can also contact our specialist, Fernanda Ellis, who is a UK Citizenship Council (CCRU) Legal Adviser to clarify any questions free of charge. Please complete the form on our website and we will be in touch.

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