Passports seizures + ‘Refused Entry’ stamps related

You should before submitting a visa application, ensure that you contact your government’s passport ministry or embassy (by email best, as email’s could as legally valid documents) , to alert them to the fact that you are going to make a visa application to the UK immigration authorities.

That as your passport is an essential document for personal identification purposes, on many transactions where it is mandatory to provide, you are registering the fact that you on such and such a day providing your passport to the British immigration authorities, and have heard in the news on multiple occasions, or directly from others, that the latter sometimes do not return passports. Effectively confiscating them if a visa application is not successful, you should be prepared for this ad also that the Home Office may give you no explanation at all for the confiscation, or information about when and if it may be returned to you.  

See also UKVI formal application rejection letters —

Why under the Hostile Environment are passports retained? 

Without a passport (which is the principle form of ID) there are lots of activities of very important kinds that it is impossible or very difficult to carry out.  Passport seizures are therefore punitive in impact and intent, and deliberately so. 

Traditionally passports, which are your and the state you are a citizen of property, were only retained when a clear communication had been made that it was believed you may be involved in criminal or terrorist activity, etc.

Placing refused stamps in passports – a further criminalising method & strategy of Hostile Environment operational level implementation:

This practice comes under the FCO (NOT the Home Office) – the branch of Whitehall UK Government departments that covers embassies and overseas support and representation for British citizens and represents the UK in relations with other nations and states. 

Refused stamps, or ‘Signals’ as they are known, have until the implementation of the Hostile Environment, always only been used to place a ‘black mark’ against those submitting their passports with visa applications from overseas, and at UK passport control airports and ports for those whom the UK immigration authorities have knowledge about suggesting the individual has criminal activity (which of course covers all manner of definitions from genuine crimes, such as fraud, etc.) or terrorist activity. 

The technical term ‘Signal’ indicates the marks have the purpose of alerting/signalling to any passport control or immigration authority in the world, that the person has a ‘history which is at the least controversial’ and his/her admission to the country he/she is seeking to enter, may be not in the interests of the public good and the state of the given country.  A UK immigration ‘signal’ has particular significance and weight.  As such these signals de-facto criminalise the holder of a passport these have been put in.

The core ethos and direction at operational, implementation level of the Hostile Environment was from the outset and remains on an ever intensifying level by its civil servant/Whitehall implementers inside and outside (Home Office and its immigration & related agencies, and the FCO/British embassies and High Commissions overseas) the UK, one that criminalised immigration per se, and especially genuine applicants.

As with making asylum check-ins take place in police station ‘custody suites’ so here at much more direct and ‘for life black mark inflicting’ level, placing these stamps in passports of genuine applicants involves this criminalising phenomenon, which clearly must have been authorised and instituted at the highest levels in Whitehall.

However, we have knowledge of cases where such de-facto human rights abusive conduct has involved multiple (two, three or more) instances of putting these criminalising signals in the passports of genuine applicants for UK visas, who made those applications from overseas. Multiple ‘signals’ placed in passports by UKVI officials overseas — in this case (that of a gay man from a South Asian country outside of India) from ECOs in UKVI New Delhi*  — indelibly de-facto criminalize those who hold such defaced passports when seeking to travel overseas. 

Below we provide a scan of a Home Office official providing an official response on the Home Office position regarding explanation of this particularly serious Hostile Environment malpractice (letter date: 23rd May 2016).  It contains extremely important information, yet nowhere in any UKVI, Home Office, FCO immigration and visiting other countries/visas application online / and relevant forms, guidance notes provided electronically and in hard copy forms by the Home Office & FCO.

UKVI officials, especially those overseas, placing such refused stamps in passports, especially when multiple ‘refused entry Signals’ are applied to deface the passports of non-British nationals, naturally provokes the questions of who (in terms of their post/position within the UKVI Hostile Environment implementing hierarchy / UKVI organisation structure):

  • Who decides about and directly places these ‘black marks’ in passports?
  • Who authorises at Whitehall / Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office at the most senior levels?
  • What nationality are those who place the refused ‘signals’ in passports?

These very important UK government departments/Whitehall transparency and accountability, Hostile Environment implementation questions may have answers in an unredacted/non-summary, full untampered with version of the UKVI and Border Force ‘Operating Mandates’ (see our Hostile Environment implementing agencies page). However, the civil servants that developed these two documents have to date been very timid on allowing access to them. 

An LGBT note on placing refused ‘signals’ in the passports of LGBT community members:

The example above was the scan of a letter to a gay man, whose partner’s passport received THREE such signals at the BHC in New Delhi.  What we do know is that using the South Asian example referred to, that includes valuably the LGBT / LGBT human rights dimension, that the FCO employs through its Hostile Environment implementing overseas activity, ECOs and supporting the latter, Entry Clearance Assistances who are largely and in some cases may be almost exclusively non British nationals.  Namely, citizens of other countries, and that these may be of countries whose societies may be largely holding entrenched anti-LGBT human rights, and where serious anti-LGBT crimes against those nations LGBT citizens regularly take place. 

In this example, it is clear that through lack of monitoring from London/Whitehall, on non-British nationals employed by the UKVI overseas, in regard to respecting British laws on LGBT human rights and equality protections, that for example such ECOs & ECAs may act according to instinctive societal prejudices, in placing multiple ‘refused Signals’ in the passports of foreign nationals whom they have seen are gay. 

A further international dimension to such Hostile Environment implementation bullying:

It is understandable that those nations in receipt of often very large DFID (UK Department for International Development) budgets should ‘not want to rock the boat’ on FCO UKVI overseas Hostile Environment support, by taking up the cause of the human rights abuses of their nationals that may for example have their passports illegally & unjustly defaced with refused Signals, or be treated in humiliating ways such as in deportation attempts being dragged along the isles of commercial flight aircraft.   DFID, closely connected to the FCO, which itself is the lead UK government department under which the Hostile Environment is implemented outside of the UK through British embassies and High Commissions.