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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 15 Aug 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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Hi, I am an overstayer, i came to the uk with a visitor's visa last year February (my 6th time of visiting the uk over the past 7 years) and stupidly decided to stay back..its 1year 6months now and I met my boyfriend 5 months ago, told him about my status and he said we get married (we're both so much in love with each other) I know getting married is not straightforward because I'm an overstayer He is British but originally from Kenya, he has been living here 30 years. I am in my 40s. None of us has ever had kids Do we attempt to get married? Will it help me legalise my stay without going back to my home country which is Nigeria? Will it be better if we have a child instead (by miracle!) and not get married? Because I don't want to return home, I cannot even say on this site what I will do if I'm sent back, but I will not make it past a day without him! I will get a lawyer as I'm currently searching online for one, but came across this website. Please advice. Thank you
Tamara - 15-Aug-19 @ 4:05 PM
Hi come in to UK 2003 with Holliday visa for 6 months and im here since that I got any chance to be permanent in UK ?
Marc - 12-Aug-19 @ 12:22 AM
Sir I was study visa in 2010 for 6 month and I did not continue my educationbecause of the university selected me the wrong subject and I overstay in uk for 7 month in this day i dont know any rules and policy now i want again applyfor turist visa just for 10 day please I need your advice can my application be accepted for new visa to enter UK again.
Rafi - 3-Aug-19 @ 7:14 PM
My brother is overstaying in Uk almost a year now, how can I help him,I leave to remain in uk. He needs help
Deen - 17-Jun-19 @ 6:43 PM
Sir I visit my cousin in UK a year ago and I overstay my visa for just one week...now am about to visit him again sir please I need your advice can my application be accepted for new visa to enter UK again
Mikky - 9-Jun-19 @ 5:10 AM
Hi My name is Emmanuel. I live in Germany.My niece has been in Britain for 18 years. She's overstayed her student visa for almost 12 years now. She has been having on and off jobs. She has been asked by the foreign office to leave but the issue is that after 18 years in Britain she would surely have problems settling out of Britain. Can you advise us on ways of getting a legal document in the UK.
Manu - 17-May-19 @ 11:37 PM
Hi,I want to UK from in 2004 with working holiday visa than I apply for student visa which I got for 1 years fortunately I didn't attend the school cause I felt pregnant and could no travel to London for classes I was always sick and I overstayed my student visa with 15 mouth before I return home with IOM help in 2008,now I want to apply for the work permit,do you think this can work?.
Fabs - 29-Apr-19 @ 8:11 AM
Hi, I desperately need advice. I came to UK on student visa 5 years ago. I later dropped out because of fund. I have since had two kids their father is British but never leave with me. Recently I discovered I'm also pregnant with twins.The problem now is I received home office letter (bail 201) to come for interview that I'm liable to be detained and removed. I'm so worried and don't know what to do. Please advice Queen
Queen - 29-Apr-19 @ 6:07 AM
Hello, So here is my experience, and I wish I knew about this years ago. I entered the UK in 2002 on a working holiday visa. I am from South Africa. I worked in bars and record stores. In August 2003, I got my dream job. I was 19 years old. My visa expired Feb 2004 - I applied for a six month extention. When that ended, I overstayed until June 2018. I started a company in 2015, we employ 8 people. We pay corp tax. I got a mortgage. I never received any correspondence from the home office. But I couldnt go home and that was paralizing and caused so many issues. My brothers wife died and I couldn't be there for him and his children. Family is everything but I was totally detached as I couldn't leave as there was a real fear that everything I worked for and my entire adult life would stop. I went to see a lawyer and realised I have more rights. My girlfriend (French) and I bought a flat together and have been in a commited relationship since 2013. I was advised to apply for a EEA family permit. With the help of the lawyer, got all my papers together. In June 2018, I flew home as I had to make the application from there. When I had the ticket, I started crying. It felt unreal. On my application, I was honest - I said that I overstayed but left on my own accord. I waited and received a note that a decision has been made but not what the result is. Drove to Cape Town, got my passport and inside of it was an EEA family permit. I couldn't believe it. For years, at least once a month; I would have a dream of being back home and it is great. In the middle of the dream I would realize that I cannot come back to the UK and it would turn into a nightmare. When I saw that piece of paper in my passport, I knew I would never have that dream again. My advice, talk to someone. Really, do this before it is too late. If you are trying to do the right thing, working hard, not doing anything criminal (obviously it is an offence to overstay) and is above board. You might have an option but you will not know until you talk to someone. In March I got my five residency card, I use to google it and look at the images of one, thninking this will never happen to me. It did because of the above - GO AND SEE SOMEONE.
Arnhatt - 24-Mar-19 @ 1:30 PM
Hi my name is luis and I really need help.My wife is a uk citizen and a american citizen. She was born in the uk and when she was 6 her family moved to america.But now my wife and I agreed to move to the uk and now shebhas been living in the uk for that past month.I went to the uk for 2 weeks to see if I would like it and I love it there. Ibwant to move there with my wife perminitly. She is also preganat and we want to know do I still only can be there for 3 months out time. I dont want to leave my wife while ahe is pregnant. It is alot of money going backnand forth from america to the uk every 3 months. Please help me.
Luis - 24-Mar-19 @ 7:35 AM
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
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