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The Home Office Dictionary


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By Alex Piletska and John Vassiliou

Welcome to your first day as an Administrative Officer, the most junior civil service grade. We’re sure you will fit right in. To help you get to grips with all the technical mumbo-jumbo that can get in the way of reducing net migration, we’ve put together this handy glossary of commonly used terms to get you through your first few days on the job. Read it carefully, but don’t take too long about it: those shredders won’t unblock themselves.

Good luck, and welcome to the Home Office.

Administrative review 

If a visa applicant is unhappy with a refusal that carries no right of appeal, he or she can request an internal review of our decision. If processing such a request, you must carefully review the disputed decision, laugh at the applicant’s naiveté, and maintain the original decision. 

Remember to add a notch under your name on the office refusals scoreboard to ensure you remain in the running for the monthly M&S voucher.

Adult dependant relative application

Under no circumstances should state-sponsored hip-replacement visas be issued. Do your part to help the NHS by charging the old fogies more than any other visa applicant, then telling them to sod off. 

If the sponsor is poor, you must refuse the application on the basis that they have insufficient resources to care for the applicant in the UK without recourse to public funds. If the sponsor is rich, you must refuse the application on the basis that they have sufficient resources to pay for the applicant’s care in their home country.

Adverse credibility

See “Asylum seeker”.

Appeal Reconsideration Request Unit 

A specialist Home Office unit set up to review decisions under appeal. This creates the appearance of assisting the First-tier Tribunal with reducing its heavy caseload. 

You must only accept a decision for review if the appellant has failed to submit a mandatory document and you are in a good mood.

Where the reason for the refusal appears to be our failure to understand our own Immigration Rules, you must drag out the case for as long as possible until the appellant wins his appeal or dies of old age.

Australian-style points based system

Radical new immigration control framework for the 2020s. 

For further information, see Home Office white paper, A Points Based System (published in 2006) and Part 6A of the Immigration Rules, The Points Based System (added in 2008). 

Asylum seeker

See “Adverse credibility”.

Best interests of the child 

It will always be in the best interests of the child to preserve the family unit. The family unit will always be removed. It will therefore always be in the child’s best interests to be removed.

Biometric residence permit

If applying in a category other than the EU Settlement Scheme, a secure identity document with safeguards against forgery and abuse that aids integration and allows immigrants to prove their status to employers and landlords with ease. It must be issued to all non-EEA nationals granted leave exceeding six months. 

If requested by EEA nationals under the EU Settlement Scheme, a flimsy waste of plastic that withstands neither tampering nor a stiff breeze; liable to be lost and contributes to a growing atmosphere of authoritarianism. Under no circumstances must you issue one to an EEA national or they will catch fire.

Business development manager 

A person employed solely for the purposes of chopping onions in his local curry house. Work visa applications carrying this job title must be refused on sight.


Offspring under the age of 18 which has not formed an independent family unit; brought forth for the purposes of gaining an immigration advantage. The child is presumed to be born of virgin birth until proven otherwise and its place of residence disputed unless confirmed by a driving licence dated within the last three months.

Evidential flexibility

The Immigration Rules provide migrants with a choice in how they meet the evidential requirements for any given visa. They can either:

  1. substitute any specified document with a reasonable alternative document that contains the required information; or
  2. succeed in their application. 

Options (a) and (b) are mutually exclusive.

Fee waiver

Applications for a waiver of immigration fees must be refused if you suspect that the migrant has been working illegally. It follows that all such applications are to be refused.

Full-time job

Work carried out under an employment contract consisting of 30 hours per week or 120 hours per month.

If the latter definition is relied upon to an immigrant’s advantage, claim ignorance of said definition and remind the applicant that some months contain more than four weeks.

Indefinite leave to remain

The greatest honour man can attain since his kinship with the Almighty before the Fall; an attempt to once more reach His grace.

Superficially exorbitant fees pale in comparison to the benefits; no fee waivers. Despite the name, is not indefinite, and actually lapses after two years of absence. 

Indefinite detention

We do not have indefinite detention in this country. Migrants can only be detained for as long as we can get away with it.

Insurmountable obstacles

An impassable impediment to family life between the applicant and their partner continuing overseas; must be impossible to overcome in order for the applicant to rely on this provision to their advantage.

When determining whether something is impossible, you must adopt the quantum mechanics perspective that anything that does not violate a narrow set of conservation laws, no matter how unlikely, is statistically possible. For example, the mere fact that a person is unlikely to tunnel through a solid wall is not sufficient to render it impossible. 

Immigration removal centre

A place to store migrants. See also “Prison”.


Ratlike people who enjoy making money. Thankfully, the Immigration Rules and accompanying guidance are so drafted that obtaining legal advice is not necessary in making an immigration application (see paragraph 245AAA(a)(i)(3)(b), read with secret policy guidance document 94(1)(B)(a), for more information).

Leave outside the Rules on compelling compassionate grounds

[Official sensitive: the information on this page has been removed as it is restricted.]

Legal aid

Public funding available to assist the least deserving, i.e. refugees and victims of domestic violence. 

Legal aid rates are due to change in 2021 when the Legal Aid Agency will begin paying in bags of sugar in lieu of GBP. You must continue to refer to legal aid lawyers as “fat cats” if their annual salary exceeds 12 bags of unrefined sugar or 10 bags of granulated.

Legal submissions 

It is vital that all staples are removed BEFORE putting these in the shredder. Failure to do so can cause jamming and delays in processing.

Modern means of communication

Tried and tested ways for migrants to maintain a meaningful long-distance relationship with a loved one in the UK, enabling you to refuse a family visa. Examples include Skype, WhatsApp, phone, text, email, iMessage, Snapchat, Twitter DMs, Facebook Messenger, Fortnite, webcam and Tinder.

To contact us about a case: post*, courier pigeon, smoke signals, telepathy, messages in a bottle, entering our dreams Inception-style and planting the desired message in our subconscious while we sleep. 

*Please note, this method of communication is currently under review. 


If considering an extension application from a migrant whose leave expired in the 14 days prior to their application being submitted, where leave was not extended by virtue of section 3C of the 1971 Act, you must determine whether there was a good reason beyond his control why the application was not made in time.

As a matter of policy, we will only accept an out of time application in circumstances where the reason for the late submission was the sudden death of the applicant prior to the expiry of his leave. Where the applicant’s health declined over time, the applicant is expected to have prepared for the possibility of his passing by making an early application to extend his leave before it, and he, expired.

Presumption of liberty

Our immigration detention policy is guided by the presumption of liberty: migrants have the presumption to be here, and we are at liberty to detain them.


See “Sham marriage”.


A mutually beneficial arrangement between two adults for the purpose of one party gaining an immigration advantage; characterised primarily by receiving gas and electricity bills at the same address.

Rule of law

An invention of commie lawyers to encumber departmental fulfilment of Key Performance Indicators. Under ministerial review with a view to abolition. 

For further information, see Home Office white papers: Banana republics revisited: the case against a well-functioning state (2012) and What we can learn from Kafka’s The Trial (2015).

Sham marriage

See “marriage”.

Now read: 10 of the most outrageous Home Office refusal letters.

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Alex Piletska

Alex Piletska

Alex Piletska is a solicitor at Turpin Miller LLP, an Oxford-based specialist immigration firm where she has worked since 2017. She undertakes a wide range of immigration work, including family migration, Points Based System applications, appeals and Judicial Review. Alex is a co-founder of Ukraine Advice Project UK and sits on the LexisPSL panel of experts and Q&A panel. You can follow her on Twitter at @alexinlaw.