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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 14 Mar 2019 | 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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I got a two-year visitor visa on 24 January 2017. I went to UK and asked for a two-week stay on 6th September 2017. But I actually stayed for a year in UK because my boyfriend was studying there. (I previously had a T4 student visa but expired ) I came back to my home country within the visa expiry time. Please let me know when can I apply for a new enter without being refused? Is it 5 years after or what?
Katrina - 14-Mar-19 @ 12:36 PM
Hi I have a question if a British citizen has a baby in south Africa then brings the child to England for education reasons is that child allowed to stay in Britain or will he have to go back to south Africa.
Measle - 13-Mar-19 @ 2:06 PM
Hi, I desperately need an advise, my sibling came here 7yrs ago as a student, he has overstayed for more than 5 yrs. He's made several applications to the home office but was refused. He got married here in the UK officially last year to a British citizen. But he was refused visa even after applying for a spouse visa and was told to go back to Nigeria. He was detained last October but was released as a result of a tribunal hearing. He is being detained again just yesterday. He has no child yet. Please what advise can you give. Thanks
Lil - 12-Mar-19 @ 3:18 PM
Thanks for the quick response.. His name is Dennis and we are both Nigerian but I am born here in London.. He came here when he was 16years old and he's now 31 next month(overstayed) ...He does not have criminal records or asked to leave the united kingdom in spite the previous applications(unsuccessful marriage to eu citizen/a father of a British child. That the DNA showed the baby wasn't his) he has made to the homeoffice..Yes we are intending to get married and five months ago I was pregnant with twins for him but I had miscarriaged and bcos of my recent op. Even if I have another pregnancy, there is every possibility I will lose it..We are both living together at the moment.. We been together for almost 18months but we have some proved to show our living together for 13 months or so.. The reasons why we are concerned is because my uncle said the years he has overstayed in England could be against him if we have to submit applications for unmarried partner visa. Thanks
Adrian Jude - 12-Mar-19 @ 12:48 PM
Thanks for the quick response.. His name is Dennis and we are both Nigerian but I am born here in London.. He came here when he was 16years old and he's now 31 next month(overstayed) ...He does not have criminal records or asked to leave the united kingdom in spite the previous applications(unsuccessful marriage to eu citizen/a father of a British child. That the DNA showed the baby wasn't his) he has made to the homeoffice..Yes we are intending to get married and five months ago I was pregnant with twins for him but I had miscarriaged and bcos of my recent op. Even if I have another pregnancy, there is every possibility I will lose it..We are both living together at the moment.. We been together for almost 18months but we have some proved to show our living together for 13 months or so.. The reasons why we are concerned is because my uncle said the years he has overstayed in England could be against him if we have to submit applications for unmarried partner visa. Thanks
Adrian Jude - 12-Mar-19 @ 12:33 PM
Thanks for the quick response.. His name is Dennis and we are both Nigerian but I am born here in London.. He came here when he was 16years old and he's now 31 next month(overstayed) ...He does not have criminal records or asked to leave the united kingdom in spite the previous applications(unsuccessful marriage to eu citizen/a father of a British child. That the DNA showed the baby wasn't his) he has made to the homeoffice..Yes we are intending to get married and five months ago I was pregnant with twins for him but I had miscarriaged and bcos of my recent op. Even if I have another pregnancy, there is every possibility I will lose it..We are both living together at the moment.. We been together for almost 18months but we have some proved to show our living together for 13 months or so.. The reasons why we are concerned is because my uncle said the years he has overstayed in England could be against him if we have to submit applications for unmarried partner visa. Thanks
Adrian Jude - 12-Mar-19 @ 12:32 PM
@Laura - Alternatively you could move to Ireland where he can apply for a free EEA family permit which he can use to return to the UK under the Surinder Singh route once you've lived there for at least 6 months.
TJ. - 26-Feb-19 @ 12:42 PM
@Laura - If you do not meet the income requirements your husband can apply for a family visa as a spouse under the 10 year route.
TJ. - 26-Feb-19 @ 12:39 PM
My husband is a South African national and due to issues within South Africa while my daughter and I (both British) were there my husband was not paid for a period of 2 months which meant that we defaulted on rent and had no money for food etc. My daughter and I have since returned to the UK and we are looking at ways of bringing my husband over, is the only way the settlement visa? I am looking for work but our daughter is only 3 and if we need to be apart for almost 1 year it is going to be extremely difficult for our child. I am just worried that I may not meet the financial requirements and as I am back in the UK by myself there is a lot of stress placed on me while caring for a young child. Do you know of any other route? We previously lived in Ireland from Nov 2011 until May 2016 if this makes any change?
Laura - 25-Feb-19 @ 5:15 PM
@Sonia - Your boyfriend has a ban from the UK for at least one year. He will also find it difficult to apply for a visit visa in the future because of this. I suggest you marry outside the UK and apply for a family visa for him to return to the UK.
TJ. - 6-Feb-19 @ 10:31 AM
Visited in 2006 to 2012 m returned to India voluntarily now i am planning to visit again in uk so it is possible to get visa ?mm
Bhumi - 24-Dec-18 @ 6:24 AM
My name is Nouhad rayenne Hedibi I’m 20years old I’m Algerian my grand mother is British and also my mother but by decent she’s living here from 2013, and I would like to live here with her I’m student at university and my English is very good and I don’t know how to do to stay here for the moment I have family visa visit for two years I would love to hear some advice or a way to follow to have a residence or anything that allows me to live here
Rayenne - 22-Dec-18 @ 9:14 PM
My sister had a visitor visa into the UK in 2014 Oct , expired in April 2015 overstayed for 7 days. She has been turned down for a visitor visa to UK in Nov 2018. How long will her re-entry ban last and can she appeal the decision as it was only 7 days. Thanks
Jpee - 5-Dec-18 @ 8:55 PM
@Trust - As long as you did not break any immigration law, then your 10 year legal stay in the UK will not be affected by a application refusal.
TJ. - 3-Dec-18 @ 5:46 PM
Sorry for the long post/History I came into the country in 2008 with a student visa, then: PSW visa in 2009-2011, Student visa from 2012 to October 2013 I made an in-time application using form FLR (O) while waiting for PhD start date to be able to apply for another student visa. THIS WAS REFUSED, AND APPEAL FAILED. I was asked to leave the country and make an application for student visa from my home country which I did, and I was granted another Tier 4 General visa (2014 to 2018). MORE DETAILS ON THE FLR (O) (family life) APPLICATION - 17/10/2013 - Submitted application for FLR (O) through a solicitor - 27/11/2013 - Refused - 30/12/2013 - Submitted appeal through a solicitor - 04/03/2014 - Appeal dismissed ?? - Passports returned to me at the police station (Sorry, I can’t remember the date) - 25/03/2014 - Left the UK - 26/03/2014 - Submitted application for Tier 4 Student visa - 08/04/2014 - Student visa granted - 02/05/2014 - Returned to the UK My question is: Will that FLR (O) application affect my 10-year count from 2008 please? If so, what would you advice please?
Trust - 3-Dec-18 @ 1:56 AM
hi i am come to uk at 2011 and i have to baby born after 2011 but now in 2016 i was come back to my home in india with my family now i have to come there for my baby future so is there any possiblity to come there to uk if there is any possible please let me know in my mail thanks
mitesh - 28-Oct-18 @ 4:22 PM
I have overstayed a Tier 5 visa by 3 days. What would be the future consequences of this? Modu
Modu - 5-Oct-18 @ 9:23 PM
I visit into the UK in 2013 Dec with 6 months free visa entry,expired in June 2014, overstayed until January 2015, with the expense of state, how long my re-entry ban would be?
KW - 4-Oct-18 @ 9:42 AM
@Hodge - Overstayers are not entitled to benefits
TJ. - 28-Sep-18 @ 5:27 PM
My friend has overstayed by a year and a half and is suffering mental health issues and is unable to deal with pretty much anything and has been staying with me all this time, the HO are aware of him being here but he cannot be deported because of his mental health but is he entitled to any benefits as he has no money no family or friends and I am supporting him.
Hodge - 28-Sep-18 @ 8:50 AM
Hi dear i came uk in 2016 on visitor visawith my son he is 23 now we did not go back and my older son lives in uk he has ILR he is married with kids what chancesdo we have to stay legally in ukthanku
Raja - 18-Sep-18 @ 4:40 PM
@Jo - Illegal immigrants and overstayers can only apply to remain in the UK if they have lived in the UK for over half of their lives or if they have lived in the UK for at least 20 years.
TJ. - 18-Sep-18 @ 4:02 PM
I am an overstayer on a holiday visa to UK ten years ago. I work cash in hand for same family all this time. I have a boyfriend who I live with too. Will all this give me the right to stay here. I have photographs as proof of living here for ten years.
Jo - 18-Sep-18 @ 9:41 AM
Hi what can a person do after been overstayed for 10 years no criminal record but no married o children thanks
Lulu - 16-Sep-18 @ 10:53 PM
@M N - You overstayed for more than 14 days without any pending applications. That is an immigration offence so it is highly unlikely that your appeal will be successful. You must wait at least 10 years after committing the offence before you can apply again for ILR.
TJ. - 11-Sep-18 @ 12:49 PM
Hi, My 10 years long residency ILR visa application has been refused in May 2018 with appeal right. I submit my appeal on time, now waiting for the hearing date. However, my ILR visa was refused as mentioning overstay in July 2016. Just going back to explain briefly, My Entrepreneur Extension visa was refused in May 2016. I applied for another Fresh Entrepreneur Extension Visa in August 2016 in 28 days after the Admin Review refusal decision in July 2016. This Fresh Entrepreneur Extension application's decision was pending until December 2017 while I applied for 10 Years Long Residency ILR. So, HO refused ILR saying I am overstayed in the UK since My admin review refused in July 2016. Key points: I used 28 days once in 10 years. My application was pending while varying to ILR application. I have a wife and 3 years old son. Question: Is there any possibility to win the appeal at First Tire Tribunals? Please Help!
M N - 10-Sep-18 @ 9:40 PM
@Saraa - You were subject to a one year ban from returning to the UK because you overstayed for more than 30 days.
TJ. - 9-Sep-18 @ 11:14 PM
Hello,i overstayed my visa 90 days and i i left the uk on my own expense. The only reason why i overstayed because im from muslim country and i was in relationship then i got pregnant at the same time my visa expired i had to get an abortion first otherwise i would have some serious problems with my familly. Then i came back now me and my partner ( british citizen ) we ve been together for almost 3 years and he came see me imy country about 12 times since i got back from uk and we travlled to together. We are trying to apply for partner visa.i just want to know of my overstaying would affect my visa now. I left the uk 4 april 2017. It has been almost a year and half since i left the uk and i have a strong reason for ovzrstaying.
Saraa - 9-Sep-18 @ 1:56 PM
@Katharine - Overstaying for 3 days will not affect your entry into the UK as you have 14 days to leave the UK after expiry of your visa.
TJ. - 3-Sep-18 @ 1:10 PM
I lived in the UK for 8.5 years. Came with my British partner on a student visa, then was granted a post-study visa. After that we got married and I was on a spouse visa for 5 years. We got divorced few months ago and I had to leave the country, but left the UK 3 days after my spouse visa expired. I now need to go back for few days to arrange delivery of my belongings that are still there in storage. Will they let me into the country despite my overstay?
Katharine - 3-Sep-18 @ 10:06 AM
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