Members of parliament (MPs) can raise your case with the Home Office or, if appropriate, the Immigration Minister or Home Secretary directly. This could be if you have received a negative decision, have been waiting a very long time for a decision and want a response, if you are detained, or if you are facing removal/deportation.
You can find out who your local MP is, and how to contact them, at TheyWorkForYou.com
Your MP will depend on the constituency you live in or have strong connections to. A constituency is an area of the UK where the voters elect one MP.
It’s never too early to start thinking about meeting your MP. If they already know you, they will be more likely to want to help if you go to speak to them when something has gone wrong in your case. It can be more effective to meet them in person than to phone or email. You can meet your MP during their “surgery” where they meet members of their constituency face-to-face to talk about local issues. You may want to consider trying to agree a meeting in advance to ensure that the right people are there – for example, it may be a member of the MP’s staff who does most of the work on immigration matters.
If you’re in detention, you can ask a supporter to go and see the MP.
Try to research your MP – have they got involved in asylum and immigration issues before? Do they have a known anti-immigration or pro-deportation stance? If they have a generally negative stance on immigration, it’s still worth trying to engage them on an individual case. The willingness or otherwise of an MP to get involved in your case is probably not going to depend on their political party – there are some very active MPs on individual cases whose party have a negative stance on immigration. You can find out more about your MP’s interests at the UK Parliament website.
Linking your story to an area of the MP’s interest may encourage them to get involved in your case. Think about what an MP can realistically do, and try and talk in a language they can respond to. Clearly set out your objective, what it is the MP can do about it, recognise the obstacles there may to them getting involved but explain why it is worth them doing it. Be polite, but do not be intimidated.
Remember that, while an MP has no obligation to take up your case, they have a duty to respond to their constituents.
If your MP does take up your case, it’s likely that most of your dealings will be with a caseworker or other office staff rather than the MP directly.
Tips for speaking to your MP
- Look at the reasons why the Home Office refused your case and see if you can address those reasons for refusal or produce new evidence to support your argument. This will help your MP to see that your case is strong, making it easier for them to advocate for you.
- Have all your documents and letters with you when you see the MP or a member of their staff. Put the documents in order so that you can find the right paper when asked.
- If your case is not urgent then it can take the Home Office a few weeks to respond to your MP – be patient.
- The Home Office often work very slowly and progress on your case can take many months. Lots of people are experiencing similar delays – it isn’t just you.
What your MP can do
Your MP can raise your case with the Home Office.
This can be very useful, as the Home Office have to respond to the MP’s query (although the response time can be very long).
An MP might just email the Home Office about your case, and be told the stage your case is at, or that you are “appeals rights exhausted” and there is nothing that can be done. Encourage your MP to do more than that!
If there has been a long delay in a decision, your MP can push for a decision to be made. Make sure you want a decision, however, and be prepared for that decision being negative. If you have a lawyer, always ask them first before involving an MP.
Don’t let your MP be brushed off by the Home Office saying you have exhausted all your legal options – there may be actions you didn’t know about, or have not been explored properly.
There will have been barriers to getting justice in your case. Explain what these barriers are, point out the relevant failures of the asylum/immigration system, and tell the MP what they can do in order that justice is done in their constituent’s case.
In some cases, MPs have managed to meet with the Immigration Minister or Home Secretary to discuss the case. This is the most effective use of political engagement – encouraging your MP to have direct contact with the Minister who has the power to make a positive decision. This is likely to be far more successful than asking supporters to write to the Home Office directly (see below).
If your MP is unwilling to get involved, think about whether supporters live in other constituencies and could approach their MP.
If you are in detention (probably in a different constituency from the one you lived in), you and your supporters may be able to lobby the MP for the detention centre constituency to look at your case. Friends, family and supporters who live in the area where you used to live before you were detained can also go and speak to your old MP and ask for their support.
Note – if someone other than the person seeking the right to remain contacts the MP, the MP may ask for written consent to discuss the case with that other person. Try to get a consent letter written in advance, before a crisis happens.
A family was trying to get their local MP to help them with their immigration case – the husband’s human rights application had been refused, and he was facing detention and deportation.
The family kept emailing their MP but got no reply.
They explained the problem they were having to their children’s school, and to their local GP who was a figure of some standing in the community.
The school’s headteacher and the GP emailed and phoned the MP, asking them to respond to the family’s emails.
The MP then contacted the family, met with them, and contacted the Home Office on their behalf.
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