Bail is a way of being released from immigration detention. Bail can be granted by a Chief Immigration Officer or an Immigration Judge at a hearing of the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
In this section, we look at bail applications to the First-tier Tribunal. Whilst we hope you find this information helpful, we recommend that you visit Bail for Immigration Detainees' (BID) website, here, if you require more detailed information. You can also contact BID on 020 7247 3590.
How can I apply for bail?
Anyone detained under immigration powers has the right to apply for bail if they have been in the UK for at least seven days.
If you have an immigration solicitor he or she can make the application for you and arrange for representation at the hearing. If you do not have a solicitor, or the solicitor cannot help you, then you can make the application yourself.
First of all, you must get the bail application form. Staff at your prison or detention centre should be able to give you the form. It can also be downloaded from here. Alternatively, it can be obtained by ringing the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal on 0300 123 1711 and asking for the form to be faxed to your place of detention.
At the same time, you can ask for the details of the Immigration Court that will hear your application. You can also find this out from any immigration staff who work in your prison or detention centre. Once you have filled in the form, this should be faxed to the relevant court; following this, you should be sent a date for your bail hearing by the court within three working days.
For a successful bail application you will usually need an address to stay at and one or two people to act as sureties. Sureties are people who will keep in touch with you and try to ensure that you do not break any conditions of release that might be made. They should also offer some money (called a recognisance) that may have to be paid to the court if you run away. Anyone with valid immigration status can act as a surety.
It will be up to the judge to decide on the conditions of release. The law does not say that you must have an address or sureties, but your application may be weaker without them.
Do I really need a solicitor to apply for bail?
No. But it may make your case stronger if you are represented.
I don't have a solicitor - how do I fill out the bail application form?
The form has 8 sections. It is not too difficult to fill out. All of the sections except 5 (grounds on which you are applying for bail) and 7 (representation) ask for information about yourself and your sureties which you should already have. If you are making your own bail application, leave section 7 blank.
Section 5 is where you need to say why you should be released. You should mention why detention is unreasonable or unnecessary, your ties to the UK and why you will not run away. If applicable, you should explain that you have always kept in touch with the authorities when asked.
You should also refer to the following factors: the length of your detention, reasons why you cannot be removed, the speed and effectiveness of steps taken by the UK Border Agency, the effect of detention upon you and your family, and the risk that you will commit criminal offences if released. You can read the Bail Guidance for Immigration Judges, which judges must refer to when making a decision about bail, here.
It is also worth considering the UK Border Agency's policy on detention. In chapter 55 of their Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, it says that detention "must be used sparingly, and for the shortest period necessary". It also says that a person who has an appeal or representations outstanding is more likely to comply with any conditions of release (and therefore be given bail), than one who is just awaiting removal. You can download chapter 55 on detention and chapter 57 on bail from the UK Border Agency website, here.
What will happen at the hearing?
The bail application will be heard by an Immigration Judge. If you have sureties, you must make sure that they come to the hearing. They will need to bring evidence of their identity, and bank statements or work payslips for the last three months to show that any money that they are offering is available.
The Home Office will have someone there to oppose bail and will produce a document called a bail summary which gives the reasons why they do not want you released. You should be given a copy of this and be able to challenge anything in it which you think is incorrect or unreasonable. UK Border Agency policy says that the bail summary should be faxed to the applicant (you) and the applicant's representative (your solicitor) the day before the hearing. It also says that if you do not have a solicitor representing you at the hearing, the bail summary should be sent to you at your place of detention before 2pm on the day before the hearing.
The judge may question anyone present and, when each side has put their case, will then make a decision.
What will happen if bail is granted?
There will be conditions attached to your release. You may be asked to report regularly to the police or to Immigration. You may have to live at a particular address. You may be electronically tagged so that a curfew can be imposed. If you break any of the conditions of release then you may be detained again straight away.
What happens if bail is refused?
You will remain in detention. You should receive a written statement of why bail was refused and this can be very useful in future applications. You can make another bail application after 28 days; if your circumstances change, you can apply sooner than this.
Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) is a registered charity that works with migrants and asylum seekers to secure their release from detention, and provides free information and telephone support to detainees to help them make their own bail applications.
BID has produced a useful handbook on applying for immigration bail, which you can download from here. You can also find out more about immigration bail by visiting BID's website, here, or by calling them on 020 7247 3590.