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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 26 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Immigration Visa Overstayer Offence

When considering applying for a UK visa, it is really important to consider what you want to do whilst you are here. In particular:

  • How long do you want to stay in the UK?
  • Do you want to work whilst in the UK?

There are several types of visa / leave to enter or remain for which you can apply:

Indefinite leave to remain

This allows successful applicants permission to live and work in the UK permanently. It will essentially allow you to permanently reside, work and build a life in the UK. You will not however have the full rights of a UK citizen (such as the right to vote in local government elections).

As 1: Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrant

This route is for extremely talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts who wish to work in the UK. Individuals are expected to be already recognised as world leaders in their fields, or who have demonstrated exceptional talent and are likely to become future world leaders in their particular field.

Entry will be granted to successful applicants for a period of up to 3 years and 4 months, subject to the following conditions:

  • You will not be entitled to benefits paid by the UK government such as job seekers allowance
  • You may be required to register your accommodation address with the UK police and keep this updated
  • You must not be employed as a doctor or dentist in training, or a professional sports person
Applicants must not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal (discussed below).

As 2: Tier 1 (General) Migrant

This route is for highly skilled migrants who wish to work or become self-employed in the UK. This is particularly targeted at those with particular skills that are desired to aid the UK economy such as writers, composers, artists and lawyers. Generally the applicant must have spent a continuous period of at least 5 years lawfully in the UK prior to application.

Entry will be granted for a period of 2 to 3 years with similar conditions to the above. Applicants must not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal (discussed below). In addition, the applicant must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws, with the exception that a period of overstaying of up to 28 days will be disregarded.

Visitors visas

If you wish to stay in the UK for a shorter period, visitors visas are available. This will allow you to remain in the UK for a maximum of 6 months (or 12 months for a person accompanying an academic visitor as their child, spouse or partner). You must however meet certain conditions, including but not limited to:
  • You must not take employment in the UK.
  • You must not be coming to the UK with your main purpose being to undertake a course of study
  • You must have enough money to maintain and accommodate yourself, or demonstrate that your friends or family are able and intend to do so
  • You can meet the cost of your outward journey
  • You are age 18 or over
  • You do not intend during your visit to marry or form a civil partnership
  • You do not intend to receive private medical treatment during your visit to the UK

If you wish to visit the UK to marry, form a civil partnership, study, receive private medical treatment or work, you will need a visa which specifically allows you to undertake that activity.

Overstayers

We all know that there can be serious consequences for those entering the UK illegally, including deportation. However there can be equally serious cases for those who enter the UK legally but stay in the UK beyond their period of authorised stay. This group of people are commonly referred to as "overstayers".

It is a criminal offence (under Section 24 Immigration Act 1971) to overstay your period of authorised stay in the UK or fail to comply with the conditions imposed upon your admission into the UK without reasonable excuse. It is also an offence (under Section 25 Immigration Act 1971) to do anything to facilitate another person's illegal entry, transit or stay in the UK. This includes assisting an asylum seeker if done knowingly and for your own gain; there are exceptions for asylum charities.

'I am an overstayer and have been for a couple of years. I have a child, wife and a job in the UK. I'm scared that I'll get found out and get my employer into trouble'.

You are committing a criminal offence by staying in the UK beyond your period of authorised stay. So are your employers if they are aware that you are an overstayer. The offence can be tried within 3 years of commission (which it sounds here is ongoing). The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine. It is recommended that you speak to a lawyer if you are concerned that you may be currently committing a criminal offence.

'I have a student visa which expired recently. I am unsure about the extension process but only want to stay another 6 months. I'm thinking it would be easier to just overstay, but will that have an impact on ability to apply for a visa in the future if I want to come back?

As you have seen from the above conditions, a general migrant's application may be denied if they are a previous overstayer. Further this is a general ground for refusal of leave to enter or remain in the UK. If you overstay your authorised period of leave, you may therefore jeopardise your ability to apply for an extension or apply for a further period of stay in the UK in future.

Other general grounds for refusal include:

  • The applicant is currently subject to a deportation order
  • The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years
  • The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of 1 to 4 years, unless a period of 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence
  • The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of up to 12 months, unless a period of 5 years have passed since the end of the sentence

If you are unsure about immigration applications to the UK and would like further assistance, you can obtain free advice from your local . Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)You can also obtain more detailed immigration advice from an immigration specialist. All immigration advisors must be registered with the Office of Immigration Commissioner (OISC) unless they are an exempt organisation such as CAB. OISC can be contacted on: 0845 000 0046 info@oisc.gov.uk

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[Add a Comment]
fdo - Your Question:
I m 29 years born in Sri Lanka and now has Canadian citizenship as well. So I have dual citizenship. My fiancee is a british citizen living in the uk. Will I be able to get spouse visa easily to live and work in the uk? Thanks.

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you and your fiancee satisfy the requirements laid out in the gov.uk link here.
AboutImmigration - 26-Apr-17 @ 2:41 PM
In 2009, I made an error in my student visa extension application, while a student in the UK. My application was refused on 2 grounds; that I did not have access to my wife's bank account, which we presented for the visa extension application. My wife was my dependant in the UK. We lodged the money into her account for our use. Another reason was that,my school only stated my English proficiency test score in the introduction letter. I appealed twice to no avail. When I decided to return to my country in June 2011, I was processed at the airport as an overstayer. What are my chances of returning to the UK in 2018 on a spousal visa? I have divorced and remarried. My spouse is a British by naturalisation.
Alonzo - 26-Apr-17 @ 12:14 PM
I m 29 years born in Sri Lanka and now has Canadian citizenship as well. So I have dual citizenship. My fiancee is a british citizen living in the uk.Will i be able to get spouse visa easily to live and work in the uk? Thanks.
fdo - 26-Apr-17 @ 2:49 AM
@NAV - As a married partner you can apply for naturalisation immediately after receiving ILR.
Tas79** - 13-Apr-17 @ 2:31 PM
S-Khan- Your Question:
My fiance has overstayed. He originally come as a student.his case is undergoing some sort of investigation. We want to plan our wedding but I don't want him going back abroad. I mean what are the chances. Will we need to reapply as a spouse visa, can we not do it from here?

Our Response:
You don't say what sort of investigation he is undergoing? As a rule the Home Office policy on overstayers is to 'deport first - appeal later', please see CAB link here. Therefore, your fiance would need to seek professional immigration advice in order to see what his options are.
AboutImmigration - 13-Apr-17 @ 11:02 AM
Sid - Your Question:
Hi I'm overstay in London more than 14 yers so can I apply for satay and remain in uk

Our Response:
If you are an overstayer and undocumented, then you would have to seek professional immigration advice, please see link here . As the current policy of the Home Office is to deport first and appeal later.
AboutImmigration - 12-Apr-17 @ 1:40 PM
My fiance has overstayed. He originally come as a student...his case is undergoing some sort of investigation. We want to plan our wedding but i don't want him going back abroad. I mean what are the chances. Will we need to reapply as a spouse visa, can we not do it from here?
S-Khan - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:52 PM
Hi I'm overstay in London more than 14 yers so can I apply for satay and remain in uk
Sid - 11-Apr-17 @ 9:42 PM
I was Only 1 years old when my Father goes from home and now I am 21 years old I want to Meet with My Dad Your Govt Y Not give him Nationalty Our all Family want to Meet him Plz giveNationalty All people who r living maximum 13,14 years Plz think about it
As4d - 11-Apr-17 @ 7:06 PM
Zad - Your Question:
Hello I am a french citizen I have lived in uk for 25 years I now want to marry my girlfriend who is from ivory coast can I bring her to uk to marry her what do I need to do so it is all legal.

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 11-Apr-17 @ 1:37 PM
Hello I am a french citizen I have lived in uk for 25 years I now want to marry my girlfriend who is from ivory coast can I bring her to uk to marry her what do I need to do so it is all legal.
Zad - 10-Apr-17 @ 5:55 PM
ali19 - Your Question:
Hay sir I am overstayer in london more then10 year can I apply for leave to remain becuase I come uk at visit visa and its expired I love to live in uk I am to sport my family in my home country. please tell how get legalized my status

Our Response:
The Home Office will automatically reject your application if you are an overstayer and have contravened the terms of your visa. You would have to seek professional immigration advice if you wish to see if there is a possible way around this. However, the Home Office has a strict 'deport first - appeal later' policy in terms of individuals who are undocumented.
AboutImmigration - 10-Apr-17 @ 12:07 PM
hay sir i am overstayer in london more then10 year can i apply for leave to remain becuase i come uk at visit visa and its expired i love to live in uk i am to sport my family in my home country . please tell how get legalized my status
ali19 - 9-Apr-17 @ 5:51 PM
Repeated Message !!! Hi there I am on spouse visa and completing my tenure of 5 years in March next year. Can I apply for the citizenship staright after the grant of ILR or I will have to wiat for certain time before I can apply for it? Many thanks in advance. Regards
NAV - 6-Apr-17 @ 3:49 PM
may - Your Question:
How many years is a person banned from reentering UK after overstaying and voluntarily left after 90 days? thanks

Our Response:
Please see link here, which will answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 5-Apr-17 @ 12:11 PM
Hi I have five years refugees statas that one well finish in end of Jun and I want to apply for life to remine indifinetdo I neet life in uk excame ? Thank u
Said - 4-Apr-17 @ 6:43 PM
how many years is a person banned from reentering UK after overstaying and voluntarily left after 90 days? thanks
may - 4-Apr-17 @ 6:07 PM
nadz - Your Question:
Need help I came in uk in 2009 on student visa which expired in 2011 and after that I overstayed because I never want to go back could you tell me please what should I do ?

Our Response:
You are in a tricky situation if you have overstayed your visa, as new immigration rules came into force that state if you don’t leave voluntarily within 90 days of your visa expiring, you will automatically be deported. Therefore, you may wish to seek professional immigration advice. Please also see CAB link here .
AboutImmigration - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:50 PM
need help i came in uk in 2009 on student visa which expired in 2011 and after that i overstayed because i never want to go back could you tell me please what should i do ?
nadz - 4-Apr-17 @ 3:17 AM
I just acquired British overseas territory citizenship, do I need a visa to fly for United Kingdom? How long will I able to stay in the UK?
mark - 1-Apr-17 @ 7:06 AM
Advice need pleas. I'm a British citizen married to a South Africa for 4 years . He came to the uk to visit but overstayed. He went back voluntary paid for by me . I do work but on minimum wage . I would like to know if we can apply for a spousal visa for him to come back to uk and stay with me . I currelntly live with my elderly mother who has limited mobility and I help look after her if this information helps . Please help as this is a sad potion to be in .
Tilly - 31-Mar-17 @ 8:01 PM
I'm a British citizen married to a South Africa for 4 years . He came to the uk to visit but overstayed. He went back voluntary paid for by me . I do work but on minimum wage . I would like to know if we can apply for a spousal visa for him to come back to uk and stay with me . I currently live with my elderly mother who has limited mobility and I help look after her if this information helps . Please help as this is a sad potion to be in .
Tilly - 31-Mar-17 @ 5:24 PM
Hi, It is commendable what you're doing giving people summary advice about their problems. I too, may have a foreseeable problem. My spouse visa of 2.5 years is about to expire on 21 April 2017. The real problem is that my passport has expired and it's taking me a long time to get it renewed as I had identity validation problem in my home country. I'd been mostly out of my home country and someone malicious person stole identity of my family tree and their records are messed up which is taking them a long process to validate and renew my passport. Hopefully, my passport will be renewed closer to the expiry date of my visa and then most likely I'll be able to submit all my documents and valid passport within the 28 days after the expiry date. The turnaround time from immigration office is 8 weeks. So by the time I get my passport back with a renewed spouse visa, it will have been more than 28 days after the visa expiry. Will this cause me problems getting my visa renewed? Thanks
OnTheEdge - 31-Mar-17 @ 4:56 PM
Hi there I am on spouse visa and completing my tenure of 5 years in March next year. Can I apply for the citizenship staright after the grant of ILR or I will have to wiat for certain time before I can apply for it? Many thanks in advance. Regards
Nav - 31-Mar-17 @ 3:28 PM
Mira - Your Question:
HiI would like some advice on overstaying my visa for about 15years now. Is there any way I can apply to make myself legal in the UK?

Our Response:
You would have to seek independent immigration advice, as by law any person who has breached immigration rules is now automatically deported, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 31-Mar-17 @ 11:40 AM
Hi I would like some advice on overstaying my visa for about 15years now. Is there any way I can apply to make myself legal in the UK?
Mira - 30-Mar-17 @ 9:41 AM
Can i bring my 11month child to U.K if she doesnt have a British passport?I am a uk citizen my child is half thai half british. I dont have time to get her auk passport. I have her birth certificate and marriage certificate to her mother. Her mother endorses the trip.
Jimmy - 24-Mar-17 @ 4:32 PM
Hi, I was refused Tier 1 entrepreneur extension on october 2015. Then after adminitrative review I chose for Judicial review. I got the permission to jr and in actual Judivial review it was refused again yesterday. What can I do now ?? Will I be considered overstayed id I draft a fresh application and state my reason of overstay as I was fighting a JR which was refused just yesterday ?? What can I do now ?? Any chance my fresh application will be considered as I overstayed for a reason and was waiting for a UT decision on my JR. Too stressed please reply ASAP
Mazz - 18-Mar-17 @ 8:46 AM
I have been in a long distance relationship with an american citizen for a year, he has asked me to marry him which I have jumped at the chance , I would move over there but I've been in remission from cancer first 5 years and have a stent which needs changing every 9 months and obviously with the US medical issue is a big consideration, so he is willing to leave his family behind to come here for me , the problem is I only earn minimum wage and I receive lower rate pip and as he wouldn't be allowed to work we don't meet the money requirement.Is there any compassion based consideration for this situation? He is hard working and we just want to be together .
Kels - 18-Mar-17 @ 2:40 AM
Hajira - Your Question:
I've recently got married in October of the year 2016, I have just found out I am pregnant and I wish to travel back to the U.K which is my birth place, I wish to bring my husband over to live with me as I'd like for us to raise our child together, he's a video journalists for a news channel here in Pakistan and wishes to accompany me in England and to further study in university in the field of computer science. Could someone please give me some tips on how I can go about my situation, any help is appropriated, thankyou.

Our Response:
Your only option would be to apply for a 'spouse' visa, please see link here. However, as your husband's sponsor you would have to be earning a minimum wage of £18,600 (for at least six months) before you are eligible to apply (or have savings of over £62,500 between you both).
AboutImmigration - 17-Mar-17 @ 2:40 PM
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