Section 4 support for those taking all reasonable steps to leave the UK

3(2)(a) All reasonable steps

Applicants applying for s4 support under this category must show they are taking all reasonable steps to leave the UK. They must demonstrate a proactive approach, and continue to do so if support is granted. Whether or not a particular step is objectively reasonable depends on the applicant’s circumstances. For example, do they need to approach the relevant embassy in the UK to obtain valid identity and/or travel documents? If so, are there barriers or delays beyond their control? See the Tribunal’s Landmark decision AS/17/01/36372 (paras 48-50) for guidance from Chamber President Aitken and Principal Judge Storey as to the minimum steps required under reg 3(2)(a).  The requirement at paragraph 49(b) to register with Choices is no longer relevant. Applications for voluntary return should be submitted to the relevant department of Home Office.

Note that what appears reasonable in respect of one applicant may not be reasonable for another. However, every applicant should seek written evidence (to the extent possible) to demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps in their specific circumstances.

Refused asylum-seekers should be advised that making an application to return voluntarily could negatively impact on any future fresh asylum claims. For this reason, they should seek independent legal advice before applying under reg 3(2)(a).

The Next Reasonable Step

The focus of this report is on the quality of Home Office decision-making, in particular on the content and application of its policy for Section 4 support under the ‘all reasonable steps’ criteria1 (explained in ‘The legal dimension’, page 4). The report analyses a selection of appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Asylum Support) (the ‘Tribunal’) which challenged the Home Office’s decision to discontinue Section 4 support.