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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 15 Apr 2018 | 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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
tina - Your Question:
My mom has lived in the uk from 2002-2007 illegally she overstayed, her children who were with her during those years are British citizens and we plan on going back this year for 2 weeks will she have a problem getting into the country?

Our Response:
As 10 years have elapsed, the Home Office may allow your mother to travel back to the UK to visit - it is at their discretion.
AboutImmigration - 16-Apr-18 @ 10:55 AM
my mom has lived in the uk from 2002-2007 illegally she overstayed, her children who were with her during those years are British citizens and we plan on going back this year for 2 weeks will she have a problem getting into the country?
tina - 15-Apr-18 @ 2:10 PM
Hazi abdul ahad - Your Question:
I am live in the UK more than 14 years my age more than 67 years now I am illegal how can halp me

Our Response:
If you are living undocumented in the UK, then your best option is to leave the UK and apply to legally return. All undocumented individuals are now subject to automatic deportation. If you are deported you will face a mandatory ban from the UK of 10 years.
AboutImmigration - 12-Apr-18 @ 1:59 PM
I am live in the UK more than 14 years my age more than 67 years now I am illegal how can halp me
Hazi abdul ahad - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:55 AM
Hii got tourist visa for 6 monthin 2004till now i spend 14 years in uk illegally will i able to apply for legal stay or any other way thanks I
Gagan - 10-Apr-18 @ 11:46 AM
Mynow ex mexican partner Due to this situation. Has had to leave me and where we lived in the north east uk.. to london due to the fact he now has to earn over 36 thousand by 2 years time. Which for a newly graduated person in yorkshire is near impossible. I dont gethow from him wanting to better his life and get a student loan 60 thou go have the good english degree behind him.. was told he would need to earn over 18 thou after graduation to stay... then 24 then 30 and now 36 thou! By two years away is just crazy. If he would known this at the beginning that itwas not reallydoable... he wouldnt have chosen to do the degree here im the uk.. now we have split up so he can get a job in london where there is better possibilit of being on 36 thou in time.. but i dont get it as the cost of living is so much more in london he wont be any better off.. most likely strugling! He should be able to get a reduced rate for being in the North.! Now im heartbroken and so is he. I feel for him as knowing all this trouble he would gladly studied and made a life in a far better country! So very sad!
Alex - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:09 PM
Mynow ex mexican partner Due to this situation. Has had to leave me and where we lived in the north east uk.. to london due to the fact he now has to earn over 36 thousand by 2 years time. Which for a newly graduated person in yorkshire is near impossible. I dont gethow from him wanting to better his life and get a student loan 60 thou go have the good english degree behind him.. was told he would need to earn over 18 thou after graduation to stay... then 24 then 30 and now 36 thou! By two years away is just crazy. If he would known this at the beginning that itwas not reallydoable... he wouldnt have chosen to do the degree here im the uk.. now we have split up so he can get a job in london where there is better possibilit of being on 36 thou in time.. but i dont get it as the cost of living is so much more in london he wont be any better off.. most likely strugling! He should be able to get a reduced rate for being in the North.! Now im heartbroken and so is he. I feel for him as knowing all this trouble he would gladly studied and made a life in a far better country! So very sad!
Alex - 29-Mar-18 @ 2:52 AM
@AW - If you have lived for over half your life in the UK and you are under the age of 24 you can apply for a family visa based on private life.
TJ. - 27-Mar-18 @ 7:46 PM
4 sep 2015 i have applied for Tier 2 general visa through an consulting agent by solicitor known to him by taking some money from me and when i went forbiometric the officer tole methat the bar codeis not working properly and i did that for 4 timesand finally i got refusal on 26 dec 2015 and i have found that the consultancy has cheated me by applying the visa with out putting the COS. and on 10 jan 2016 i have applied for FLRO to buy some time such that i will get the COS from him but i couldnt catch him and then on 26 may 2016i have returned to India by informing voluntary departure team on my own expenses but later after reaching to India i have found that i have a BAN to UK for 5 Years. Respected Sir/Madam, my question is 1.why i have a BAN for 5 years, when i havent overstayed for more then 6 months as per the UKVI rules? 2.And the consultancy did not put the COS will that be an offence and the another solicitor told me that they have applied by putting dummy COS
rac - 27-Mar-18 @ 4:10 PM
I moved here in 2002 from South Africa with my family, I was 4 years old, I had a visa that was renewed in 2007 but everything expired in 2012 and I haven't managed to renew anything other than my passport since I had to be over the age off 18 to do the forms myself since my parents were still legally married but separated and he moved back to SA and refused to fill in the forms. I'm now 20 years old, and have no idea how I'm meant to get another visa since I can't work and have no other way of getting the money, and iv been and over stayer for so many years now, I'm confused and scared. Iv spoken to some lawyers who have no idea what I should do either. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
AW - 23-Mar-18 @ 1:13 PM
@ali - You will be subject to a re entry ban of 1 year if you leave the UK voluntarily and at your own expense.
TJ. - 17-Mar-18 @ 6:00 AM
what penalty should I pay for going back to my home country voluntary? I have been overstayed in the UK after the refusal of my ILR two and a half years
ali - 17-Mar-18 @ 4:49 AM
@Chai - if you are an overstayer, you must leave the UK otherwise you risk being detained, deported and banned from re entry. There is no way for you to become a permanent resident in the UK as long as you are illegally in the UK.
TJ. - 6-Mar-18 @ 3:11 PM
T.J, my ILR card needs to be renewed every 2.5yrs for 10 yrs. My next renewal date is in June. Should I wait to get register marriage until my card is renewed? Can we get registered in UK or will I have to go to his home country to get married? Also, I do not work at the moment. Do I have to have a job to sponsor him? What are the other (MUST) requirements to sponsor him?
jyoti - 6-Mar-18 @ 10:48 AM
I came here in the UK as a nurse in 2000, went home in 2009 then came back my visa expired after 10 months that I arrived in 2009. I had an stoked a week before my visa expired and was on rehab for 3 months..I never worked after that because my partner's parents who were suffering from dementia their conditions escalated so me and my partner had to look after them and it was hard work and stressful being a career to both of them. In short I forgot about my visa.. Iam now 8 years since my visa expired. What will I do to stay permanently with my partner..
Chai - 6-Mar-18 @ 8:01 AM
@jyoti - any illegal immigrant or overstayer must leave the UK in order to regularize their status. Depending on the amount of time spent illegally in the UK they may also be subject to a re entry ban of between 1 and 10 years.
TJ. - 6-Mar-18 @ 7:33 AM
@T.J, my ILR card needs to be renewed every 2.5yrs for 10 yrs. My next renewal date is in June. Should I wait to get register marriage until my card is renewed? Can we get registered in UK or will I have to go to his home country to get married?Also, I do not work at the moment. Do I have to have a job to sponsor him? What are the other (MUST) requirements to sponsor him?
jyoti - 5-Mar-18 @ 3:01 PM
@Jyoti - It is unlikely that you hold ILR because ILR does not have an expiry. Most illegal immigrants or overstayershave to leave the country before they can apply to legalize their status in the UK whether or not they are married to legal residents.
TJ. - 2-Mar-18 @ 12:14 PM
I am divorcee and hold ILR card, which I have to renew every 2.5yrs. I have a son from previous marriage, who holds a British passport. I just had my religious wedding ceremony done and now living with my new husband. He is illegal and been living in this country for 15yrs. How do I go about first getting register marriage? Secondly, how do I apply for him for his legal status?
Jyoti - 1-Mar-18 @ 7:48 PM
brody - Your Question:
I have overstayed my visa by 30 days and wish to leave the country voluntarily.would I still be allowed to enter the UK

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here, which should help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 27-Feb-18 @ 2:55 PM
I have overstayed my visa by 30 days and wish to leave the country voluntarily..would I still be allowed to enter the UK
brody - 27-Feb-18 @ 12:55 PM
@Jhonny - Talk to a solicitor about becoming permanent once you have lived in the UK illegally for 20 years.
TJ. - 27-Feb-18 @ 12:48 AM
I have overstayed my visitor visa by 16yrs. I would to apply for permanent citizenship. Is this possible? Could you please inform me the procedure.
Jhonny - 26-Feb-18 @ 6:43 PM
@kfb - You should seek clarification from your nearest British embassy or high commission.
TJ. - 20-Feb-18 @ 6:35 AM
32 years ago i over stayed my work visa in the uk,as i would like to return for a 5 week holiday i need to knowwill i get turned away at the airport.
kfb - 20-Feb-18 @ 4:56 AM
@Ken - Overstayers should leave the UK as soon as possible after their visa expires. You will only be able to become a legal resident after 20 years of residency in the UK unless you have a child in the UK and that child is over 7 years old.
TJ. - 18-Feb-18 @ 8:03 AM
@art - If you have been in the UK illegally for over 20 years you should see a solicitor about legalizing your status.
TJ. - 18-Feb-18 @ 7:58 AM
Hi, I came in Uk legally but overstayed due to me not knowing that my application was made late and without enough money to clear the fees. I am currently 14 years in th UK. Is it possible to be granted an visa?
Ken - 17-Feb-18 @ 10:36 PM
i have overstayed my visa 25 years and have a 14 year old daughter. Do i have case to get legal residentcy in the Uk
art - 17-Feb-18 @ 1:46 PM
@Kris - You can leave the UK once your visa expires and return as a visitor as long as you do not violate the rules surrounding a visitor visa.
TJ. - 14-Feb-18 @ 7:19 AM
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