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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 14 Jan 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]
Sonia - Your Question:
HiIf a person comes to the UK as a student visa than he gets married to UK citizen but soon after there divorced.he,s a over stayed Than he,s interested in another woman who's UK citizens and want to marry her.can he apply the spouse visa if he marries her and could he get permanant stay?

Our Response:
If the person overstays more than 28 days past their visa expiry date, then they will be automatically deported. It also means the individual cannot apply for further leave to stay in the UK, regardless of their circumstances.
AboutImmigration - 16-Jan-17 @ 3:10 PM
Hi If a person comes to the UK as a student visa than he gets married to UK citizen but soon after there divorced .he,s a over stayed Than he,s interested in another woman who's UK citizens and want to marry her .can he apply the spouse visa if he marries her and could he get permanant stay?
Sonia - 14-Jan-17 @ 9:48 PM
Hello I am EU national met someone from outside the EU and we want to get married,what kind of documents I have to have to be able to do that and do I have to have full time job contract and so on? Thank you Looking forward to hear from you soon
Gab - 12-Jan-17 @ 8:07 PM
Hi My wife was granted 6 months UK visit visa and we have a British child together. She decided to remain in the UK and her visa expired in Nov 25th 2016. What are her chances ?? Her laywers claim they can as she is going through the process but I think they wana eat her money. Is there anything I can do to sabotage the process as I feel like she is using the child and used me
A85 - 9-Jan-17 @ 5:13 PM
I m overstayed..but I m unmarried partner of eu citizen who is living n working here from last 5 years..I have one daughter...I will be able to get residence card or not
nav - 25-Dec-16 @ 4:25 PM
nannnnnnnii - Your Question:
I would like to know what my chances are, I have overstayed my visa by almost a year, got a british partner and son and a daughter on the way, how can I rectify my legal status in the uk?

Our Response:
From 2012, the Home Office policy changed to say that if an individual has overstayed their leave or permission to stay in the UK by more than 28 days any application for further leave will be automatically refused. The 'deport first - appeal later' came into force and has been policy since. Therefore, I can only advise you seek specialist immigration advice in order to see whether you have any options, please see gov.uk link here.
AboutImmigration - 20-Dec-16 @ 11:23 AM
I would like to know what my chances are, i have overstayed my visa by almost a year, got a british partner and son and a daughter on the way, how can i rectify my legal status in the uk?
nannnnnnnii - 19-Dec-16 @ 5:10 PM
@Lyn - yes, as it is considered a criminal offence.
Ellie - 19-Dec-16 @ 1:52 PM
Did the record of overstay comes out on police clearance.
Lyn - 18-Dec-16 @ 11:25 AM
My partner gained access on a five year residence visa in support of his marriage.They divorced after around 3 years, with about 11 months of that being separated. he had a child with his ex wife who is now 5 and he gained full residency of child. I have been with my partner for 3 years (overlapping the lengthy divorce) and now have a child with him also.I am a British citizen, but we are not married (yes we want to save up and do it well!) What can he now do? He applied for visa based on residency of child but got refused as they say he can leave and his little boy can still be looked after! What about our family too? The application didn't really allow room for additional facts like he has another child with a partner he's been with for three years. feeling pretty glum. Thanks in advance.
maroon - 16-Dec-16 @ 9:40 PM
Jas - Your Question:
Hi please can you tell me if a Pakistani overstayed had over a two year relationship with a British national the split up,can he still use her name without her knowledge to get his visa? If so how can this be reported?

Our Response:
The Home Office will want evidence of your name and original visa when applying. If you are an overstayer without any current papers you will be automatically deported.
AboutImmigration - 14-Dec-16 @ 12:06 PM
Hi please can you tell me if a Pakistani overstayed had over a two year relationship with a British national the split up,can he still use her name without her knowledge to get his visa? If so how can this be reported?
Jas - 13-Dec-16 @ 10:24 PM
I came 2008 in UK as a student visa. I re apply and the UK BANKS refused me base on their was not enough funds in my account. I prove them wrong by going to the bank, the bank response they did not make any attempt to take the money, I involved the MP and they refund me back my application fee, and they ask me to reflect apply again, I re apply and re apply they keep on refusing me,later they put me in depressionand I was not concentrating much on my studies, it affects me a lot later I think about my future, I completed my studies with MBA. i did not apply again till now, they frustrated me so badly I was losing it and I was on depression tablets because by that time as well my partner pass away. A week before my partner pass away he was so stress and fear of deportationbecause UKBA send him a letter to be removed. Most overstayersare been abuse, fear, crying indoors, hopeless, isolated, wasting their talents or never achieve their carers ambition because overstayers is a barrier to their success of life. Gave amensty for overstayers who can contribute not only in UK but all over the world. In silence pain is the most painful and dangerous feeling that will lead to that individual to harm themselves through their health. Stress can lead to a critical health issue and we are all human. Help the overstayers to feel how life is important to be free. Overstayers in UK or any where in world are like prisoners. Pardon and gave amensty.
AG - 13-Dec-16 @ 1:27 AM
Greatwilz - Your Question:
Greetings, I traveled to d uk in September 2008 and I overstayed my student visa for just a month.n returned in 2011 march. Now I want to apply in 2017 and am scared please advise.thanks

Our Response:
You can see whether you will be banned for re-entry via the gov.uk site here.
AboutImmigration - 12-Dec-16 @ 12:47 PM
Greetings, I traveled to d uk in September 2008 and I overstayed my student visa for just a month..n returned in 2011 march. Now I want to apply in 2017 and am scared please advise.thanks
Greatwilz - 11-Dec-16 @ 2:57 PM
Hi, My visa application was rejected on the grounds that I am an overstayer although I applied within the 28 day grace period. They apparently abolished this on the 24th of November which I was not aware of. But I stayed in the country because grace period still applied when my visa expired. Now I have the option to apply for an administrative review or I have to go back to my country and submit a new application (but I am worried that they can reject again for the same reason that I overstayed in the country which is ridiculous). Can you advise on what I should do?
sisi - 10-Dec-16 @ 7:53 AM
Hisham- Your Question:
Hi I've been granted for five years refugee leave to remain and it was expired last 3rd October I was delayed my application as I thought I will need uk life test I just realised that I have been classed as an overstayer can I still apply my indefinite leave to remain ? Tnx

Our Response:
I'm afraid if you cannot apply for ILR if you are classed as an overstayer. From the date that your visa expires, you’ll have either, 28 days to apply for a new visa or 90 days to leave the country. If you don’t do either, you may be deported. Please see CAB link here.
AboutImmigration - 8-Dec-16 @ 2:41 PM
Red- Your Question:
Hi Sir madam. my name is Ridouane and I am from Morocco I am an circus artist I had travel to uk on 2007 in work permit and 2008 2009 so for 3 years every year I go back to Morocco get new visa and go back but in 2009 I got married to a British Lady and got Visa for two years the visa was expired in 24/07/2011 so 8 months before the visa expired I have lots of problems with my wife and she cost me to many problems with police and police arrested me and take my passport so 3 months before my visa expired I told them to return my passport so I can apply for a new Visa but they refuse to and thy give me a letter. and the after couple of months receive a letter from the court say that I am not guilty but the problem my visa was expired and the police don't return the passport to me thy give it back to the emigration Service and thy told me that you have to leave the uk and I leave but the problem I come back to Morocco and after one year I get for contract to work in circus in uk and I apply for visa but consulate refuse my application and told me that I am overstayed in the UK but that is wrong. I have a letter from the court and letter from police that say is not my problem. so I am just asking so I can sort this problem. thank you.

Our Response:
I'm afraid your only route is to appeal against your refusal. We can only give generalised non-specific advice and for this you would need specialist immigration advice in order to explore your options.
AboutImmigration - 8-Dec-16 @ 10:37 AM
hiSir madam . my name is Ridouane and I am from Morocco I am an circus artistI had travel to uk on 2007 in work permit and 2008 2009 so for 3 years every year I go back to Morocco get new visa and go back but in 2009 I gotmarried to a British Lady and got Visa for two yearsthe visa was expired in 24/07/2011 so 8 months before the visa expired I have lots of problems with my wife and she cost me to many problems with police and police arrested me and take my passport so 3 months before my visa expired I told them to return my passport so I can apply for a new Visa but theyrefuse to and thy give me a letter . and the after couple of months receive a letter from the court say that I am not guilty but the problem my visa was expired and the police don't return the passport to me thy give it back to the emigration Service and thy told me that you have to leave the uk and I leave but the problem I come back to Morocco and after one year I get for contract to work in circus in uk and I apply for visa but consulate refuse my application and told me that I amoverstayed in the UK but that is wrong . I have a letter from the court and letter from police that say is not my problem . so I am just asking so I can sort this problem . thank you .
Red - 7-Dec-16 @ 4:06 PM
Hi I've been granted for five years refugee leave to remain and it was expired last 3rd OctoberI was delayed my application as I thought I will need uk life test I just realised that I have been classed as an overstayer can I still apply my indefinite leave to remain ? Tnx
Hisham - 3-Dec-16 @ 8:13 PM
Spider- Your Question:
I'm a British citizen, my girlfriend is indonesian. We plan to marry in her home town on March 10th 2017. What do we do for me to bring her to live with me in the UK ?

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here. You would have to fulfil the eligibility criteria in order to be able to apply.
AboutImmigration - 29-Nov-16 @ 12:40 PM
I'm a British citizen,my girlfriend is indonesian. We plan to marry in her home town on March 10th 2017. What do we do for me to bring her to live with me in the UK ?
Spider - 29-Nov-16 @ 3:41 AM
I am from the US and I married a UK National in the UK in 2012. I was an overstayer when I married and no one atthe Registrars Office bothered to check my passport to see if I had the proper Visa. Is my marriage legal or not? Thanks
Maralah - 13-Nov-16 @ 12:57 AM
Hello good evening. I overstayed my visa because I got pregnant and I'm now on my 26 weeks, it's gonna be due on February 2017 or earlier than that. My question is can I get help from low cost housing for me and my unborn baby and hospital delivery? Because the father of my baby just runaway and leave me all alone. I'm so depressed and barely hanging on. Just hoping for some good advice here where can I go and get some help?
Hiyas - 12-Nov-16 @ 11:21 PM
Ray - Your Question:
Hi,My cousin came to the UK to live when he was about 11/13 years old. He was under his mother's visa. After about 10years or so his visa expired and so they applied for indefinite leave to remain. My friend had moved out of the house by then and was married, unfortunately his application was refused. He tried to apply under family life and It was refused again and the home office retained his documents. It's been two years now he is no longer married and he has a daughter, would he be able to apply under her to stay in the UK?

Our Response:
Due to the fact your cousin has already applied and been refused, he may benefit from advice from a professional immigration adviser who may be able to help further, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 11-Nov-16 @ 10:54 AM
Hi, My cousin came to the UK to live when he was about 11/13 years old. He was under his mother's visa. After about 10years or so his visa expired and so they applied for indefinite leave to remain. My friend had moved out of the house by then and was married, unfortunately his application was refused. He tried to apply under family life and It was refused again and the home office retained his documents. It's been two years now he is no longer married and he has a daughter, would he be able to apply under her to stay in the UK?
Ray - 10-Nov-16 @ 8:58 AM
I give birth to baby boy in nepal now i want to take him back to uk how can i take him back with which process and i want to take my husband to back to uk they are nepali citizen
Saya - 26-Oct-16 @ 9:46 AM
Hi my question is my son was born in thailand but now he has a British passport And it says he is a British citizen i am planning to take my son back to England does he need a viasa to go England
Barnsy - 24-Oct-16 @ 1:03 PM
Hello Actually I been living in the uk from last 8 years in 2009 I did asylum and I got 3 years visa then I apply again the refuse me then I was ilegle for 3 years and then I put fresh claim I was going to sing aswel and that time I got married to British citizen and I got 2 and half years visa my question is when I'm applying again can I apply without my partner because I work full time I pay full tax I can support my self or do I have to apply with my partner
Agha - 20-Oct-16 @ 11:42 PM
lyn - Your Question:
I overstay in uk for 19 days last 2011,do you think it will be hard for me to get a police clearance in uk,and do I have a record on police clearance,even I voluntary leave the uk.

Our Response:
Currently migrants who overstay their leave to enter or remain by more than 28 days are subject to a re-entry ban. Where a person subject to a re-entry ban seeks entry clearance or leave to enter, they will be refused (there may be certain exceptions for those seeking entry as family members).
AboutImmigration - 18-Oct-16 @ 2:58 PM
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