Coronavirus (COVID-19) and immigration removal centres

Guidance on visiting an immigration removal centre during the coronavirus pandemic.

This page provides guidance for visitors and the families and friends of those in immigration removal centres (IRCs) in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. It will be updated as new advice becomes available.

Visits to UK removal centres

Immigration removal centres are now closed to visitors. This is to ensure the safe and secure functioning of our centres, while enforcing social distancing.

Staying at home is how we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope and save more lives.

Visits by legal representatives can continue but only in exceptional circumstances and only if no other means of contact (Skype, phone, email) can be used instead. Any legal visits that do take place should be held in closed visits.

There are a number of ways you can contact someone in a removal centre.

People in detention are given:

  • reasonable and regulated access to the internet and IT facilities, including the use of personal internet-based email accounts
  • a personal mobile phone, for the duration of their stay, if their own device is not suitable

If you have urgent concerns about someone in a removal centre you should call the centre direct. Their contact details are available on the IRC Finder.

The latest situation

Home Office and Immigration Enforcement have been working closely with Public Health and NHS services to put robust contingency plans in place. The plans prioritise the safety of people in detention, staff and visitors, while ensuring that there is as little disruption as possible to normal IRC regimes, including visits.

Existing, well-developed procedures are in place to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases and removal centres are prepared if cases are identified. Plans are in place for dealing with staff absences if staff working in removal centres need to self-isolate.

Handwashing facilities are available to people in detention, staff and visitors and we have worked closely with suppliers to ensure the supply of soap and cleaning materials.

How we will update you about the impact of coronavirus on removal centres

If there are changes to the general advice for visitors or the operation of the immigration removal and enforcement system, we will update advice on this guidance page.

If there are changes to the operation of individual centres, you can stay up to date by going to the individual centre’s page on the IRC Finder.

Published 20 March 2020
Last updated 24 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on visits to immigration removal centres during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  2. First published.