Home Office role within and outside the NRM – immigration aspects related to the current process
Last updated 23/09/2021
This section of the guidance provides more information about the Home Office’s immigration role within and separate to the NRM where a persons claims to be a victim of human trafficking or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
The Home Office is one of the Competent Authorities that processes cases through the NRM. Most of the cases are handled in UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) within the Home Office.
Home Office staff, for example within Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and UKVI, also identify and refer cases to the NRM.
The Home Office is the only Competent Authority which also performs immigration functions, eg the decision whether to issue a residence permit for reasons set out in the Convention after someone has had a positive conclusive grounds decision.
- The Home Office also performs functions which are separate to its role as a Competent Authority but which relate to that role. For example:
applying its policy to release potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery from immigration detention unless there is a public order reason not to do so
- processing asylum claims where a person claims to be a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery after they have had their final decision from the NRM
- processing other immigration claims where a person claims to be a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery
- supporting voluntary returns where a person claims to be a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery
Home Office Immigration role in the NRM process
There are some immigration functions which the Home Office may perform during the NRM process.
Assistance with evidence gathering via interviews
Asylum/modern slavery interviews
NRM decisions and Asylum decisions are 2 distinct and separate decisions. However an asylum interview may provide information that is also of relevance to the NRM decision where trafficking or modern slavery issues are clarified and investigated as part of the asylum process. There may therefore be good reasons to conduct a single interview in asylum claims relating to a person within the NRM process but this is not always possible.
Where the Home Office is the Competent Authority UKVI staff may be asked to conduct an asylum interview for cases where there is an ongoing National Referral Mechanism (NRM) consideration.
Where a potential victim of human trafficking or modern slavery has made an asylum claim, the Home Office should carry out the asylum interview according to normal procedures. Potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery who have claimed asylum are entitled, as other claimants, to have a quick resolution to their asylum claim.
An asylum interview for a person within the NRM process may be conducted before a conclusive grounds decision is taken unless there is a good reason not to do conduct an interview at that time. This might for example be due to trauma or a medical condition. The Competent Authority will consider any request to delay an interview.
However the Home Office should not take an asylum decision unless the potential victim has had a negative reasonable grounds decision and should not take a negative asylum decision until the potential victim has had a conclusive grounds decision from the NRM.
There is information on conducting asylum interviews on Horizon.
Those conducting an asylum interview with a person referred to the NRM need to be aware of the following in respect of modern slavery:
- they must ensure that the applicant’s future fear which can be multi faceted in cases involving human trafficking or modern slavery, is fully established and understood including fear of past traffickers, fear of being trafficked by new traffickers, a fear of being ostracised by society or disowned by family or any other future fears
- they must ensure that all significant inconsistencies are put to the applicant at interview
- interviews must also explore issues such as establishing nationality, and fully address sufficiency of protection and internal relocation where appropriate and ensure that this consideration is tailored to the situation faced by victims of trafficking or modern slavery and ensure the obtain sufficient information about those involved in trafficking the applicant or facilitating modern slavery
Where the Home Office is the Competent Authority they may interview potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery to establish identity and immigration status.
If a potential victim of human trafficking or modern slavery is not known to the Home Office, the Competent Authority must arrange for an initial status interview to be conducted by a warranted immigration officer to establish the person’s:
- nationality or citizenship
- immigration status in the UK
When it is decided that there are reasonable grounds of human trafficking or modern slavery, temporary admission can only be granted if the person’s identity is confirmed and they have been logged on the Home Office system (CID). In such cases, the Home Office must prioritise the status interview so it doesn’t delay the reasonable grounds decision.
Conducting the status interview
Where the Home Office conducts a status interview they must keep the tone of the interview relaxed and conversational and limit their questions to those necessary to establish the person’s identity, method of entry and immigration status. The issues surrounding the subject of human trafficking or modern slavery may arise at this time but as this is not the purpose of the interview, they must not ask specific questions about the exploitation suffered. Where it is appropriate to serve illegal entry papers, they must emphasise that the potential victim:
- is not about to be removed from the UK
- is being considered within the NRM process
- will not be considered for removal until that process is complete
In exceptional circumstances, the Competent Authority may issue a reasonable grounds decision before a status interview has taken place. Staff at the Competent Authority must only do this where there are particular circumstances where it would be appropriate to do so and after discussing with their Competent Authority lead.
Assistance with evidence gathering (other)
At any time in the NRM process Home Office staff may gather evidence from Home Office records on immigration history.
However initial checks would usually be done before a reasonable grounds decision is taken as it will be relevant to establish a person’s identity and immigration status before considering a grant of Temporary Admission (TA) or Temporary Release (TR). It will also assist if not yet known to establish that a person is in immigration detention, or has a pending immigration or asylum claim or whether there is no live immigration issues in the case.
Checks on immigration history may also be needed at any time during the process to check facts.
Not detaining or removing potential modern slavery victims
If a potential victim of modern slavery has an existing immigration case which concludes that they cannot remain in the UK, no removal action will be taken by the
Home Office before a conclusive grounds decision has been made on their human trafficking or modern slavery case within the NRM process and they will not be detained save in limited circumstances i.e. where their detention is necessary on grounds of public order.
Assisted Voluntary Returns (AVR)
If the person decides at any point in the NRM process that they do not wish to remain in the UK, the Competent Authority must advise them of the assisted voluntary programmes available at the relevant time. They should be notified of any programmes specifically aimed at victims of modern slavery. See the Assisted Voluntary Returns guidance for more information.
The Competent Authority must still make a decision on the case and copy it to all relevant parties if sufficient information is available. In cases where modern slavery indicators are present but are insufficient to reach the standard of proof of reasonable grounds, and it is not possible to gather more information because the individual has left the UK the Competent Authority must suspend the decision and then follow the guidance for withdrawn cases.