A brief guide to being a surety for Immigration Bail
What is the role of a surety?
As a surety your job is to ensure that the person you stand bail for keeps to their bail conditions.
Who can be a surety?
Anyone who is legally in the UK can be a surety. This includes people with student visas, people with refugee status, people with work permits and European Union nationals. Asylum seekers can stand as sureties. People who are not in waged work can be sureties provided they have enough money.
A potential surety with a criminal conviction probably cannot be a surety (unless the conviction is spent).
It is helpful to have met the person you are acting as a surety for at least a few times so you can explain to the Immigration Judge how well you know them and why you trust them not to abscond.
You will also be asked to explain how you met. As many asylum seekers and migrants do not have friends or family in the UK, it is acceptable to have met them through a charity such as Kent Refugee Help or a Detainee Visitor Group.
As as surety you will be required to attend the bail hearing at a designated Immigration and Asylum Chamber (IAC) in a court. Your details will be submitted to the court prior to this so a police check can be made by the Home Office to check your suitability. There are different courts for each Detention Centre or prison (HMP). You will receive a letter from the court notifying you of the date and time of the hearing and the address
The bail address
A bail hearing can only take place if there is a suitable bail address. The surety is not required to provide the bail address. However an Immigration Judge may take the view that the surety can monitor a person more easily if they are living with them.
Some people will have family or friends who can offer a bail address. All immigration detainees without an address for bail are eligible for Section 4 accommodation provided by Asylum Support, part the the Home Office. This consists of a room, usually in a shared house and support given through vouchers or a payment card. The accommodation is allocated on a “No choice” basis and can be anywhere in the UK.
How much money is needed?
There is no set amount. The money you offer as a surety, termed your recognisance, will be related to your means. It must be an amount you would not want to lose. For some sureties this may be £500-£1000 and for a surety with less resources it could be £50-£100.
You will need to show the money belongs to you and is in your bank account. You will be expected to bring 3 consecutive bank statements to the hearing to prove this. You will also be required to bring your passport.
What happens to the surety’s recognisance?
As a surety, you will only be asked to forfeit your recognisance if the person does not comply with their bail conditions. In this case you may be asked to attend a forfeiture hearing at a court.
An Immigration Judge will the decide how much money you should lose.
It is helpful to have a record of the steps you have taken to prevent someone from absconding. Kent Refugee Help can help you prepare your case. Very few people we have provided a surety for have absconded.
If you are interested in finding out more about being a surety, please email us at email@example.com, or write to: PO Box 192, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1WA. We can arrange a meeting or a telephone conversation.