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Document Verification Reports are not secret materials

Document Verification Reports are not secret materials

refusedWhere an immigration official alleges that a document used in an application is false or forged, a ‘Document Verification Report’ (DVR) is routinely prepared. This report states the reasons why immigration officials believe the document is false. It is vital that an applicant suspected of deception can answer the charge, and without sight of the DVR that is impossible.

It should also be pointed out that DVRs are sometimes woefully inadequate and reveal no real basis for claiming a document is forged.

I have now heard of a different class of document prepared by immigration officials, the Document Examination Report (DER). This comes via a friend of the blog and a Freedom of Information Request, which has thrown up OPI 270, issued in 2011.

Sometimes judges of their own volition or under suggestion by a Home Office official will take a private look at evidence from the Home Office without allowing the appellant to see the document in question. This is potentially permissible under section 108 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which allows for secret evidence in the immigration tribunal where disclosure to a party of a matter relating to the detection of a forgery would be contrary to the public interest.

The Home Office policy draws a distinction between a Document Verification Report and a Document Examination Report, though. The former, a Document Verification Report, should be disclosed to the appellant and the section 108 procedure should not be used. The latter, a Document Examination Report, should not be disclosed to the appellant and should be sent to the immigration tribunal under separate cover. The judge will then need to decide whether the material should be disclosed. Judges and representatives should be aware of OA (alleged forgery; section 108 procedure) Nigeria  [2007] UKIAT 00096, which sets out the procedure a judge should follow where the Home Office requests use of section 108.

Colin Yeo
Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

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