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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 18 Mar 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]
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
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.
Hajira - 10-Mar-17 @ 3:59 PM
I have lived in the UK ever since I was 7 with my parents as we came from abroad. I am now 18 and we are all on a leave to remain visa which ends this year at the end of September, I am planning on going to university although wondering what the chances are of us being successful when applying for a a permanent leave to remain indefinatly as I also have a younger brother and we have spend 11 years here.
Immigration issue - 9-Mar-17 @ 10:55 AM
Hi, I'm from EU with right to apply for British citizenship.Me and my partner are together 2 and half years,we cant married now coz Im still processing my divorce. Now we have baby on the way (20 weeks pregnant) but the problem is that my partner is from Pakistan and overstayed here( he was a student here) and his passport is on hold by Home Office. Can he apply for some visa? As we want to get married and rise up our child together. Can he apply when im still pregnant or when baby will be born? How we can married if his passport is on hold?
Paklishcow - 9-Mar-17 @ 10:55 AM
I came to England in 2007, I have overstayed my visa for ten years. Is there any chance of me applying for a stay in the U.K.?
Jy - 3-Mar-17 @ 11:41 PM
Shopna - Your Question:
Hi, I am overstayers, I came to U.K. In 2009 at that time I was 16years of age with my step mother upon visa to join my father. My whole relatives are settled in uk, my father is British citizen. Before my visa had expired. My father couldn't no longer help me because of family arguments and fight etc, my Aunty took me away to take care of me. I become overstayed now My Aunty tried her best to solve my immigration issues but was refused because of my father not supporting me. I just don't know what to do, I'm now have stayed in uk for almost 8 years. Almost 5 years of overstay, I have no one to support me back home and I have fully intergrated with society in U.K. Can you please tell me what's the best thing for me to do to solve my issue

Our Response:
Discretionary Leave is granted outside of the Immigration Rules and often includes claims made on a human rights basis, but it can also be granted in cases where a human rights claim fails. However, we are only here as a general guidance and cannot give more in depth answers. For this you would have to seek professional immigration advice, please see link here . Please also see Citizens Advice link here which tell you where you may be able to obtain free advice.
AboutImmigration - 1-Mar-17 @ 2:39 PM
Hi, I am overstayers, I came to U.K. In 2009 at that time I was 16years of age with my step mother upon visa to join my father. My whole relatives are settled in uk, my father is British citizen. Before my visa had expired. My father couldn't no longer help me because of family arguments and fight etc, my Aunty took me away to take care of me. I become overstayed now My Aunty tried her best to solve my immigration issues but was refused because of my father not supporting me. I just don't know what to do, I'm now have stayed in uk for almost 8 years. Almost 5 years of overstay, I have no one to support me back home and I have fully intergrated with society in U.K. Can you please tell me what's the best thing for me to do to solve my issue
Shopna - 1-Mar-17 @ 8:34 AM
Jeet- Your Question:
Hi I came from India On student visa. About two and half year ago I applied to extend my student visa but it was refused for some reasons and my appeal was refused aswell. So I've been overstayer for more than 2years. Since I've got job and concil house I've been paying all the taxes and I got engaged with my partner (Scottish) 6 month ago. She is full time student. We were getting married but home office want to investigate our marriage and we got interview on next month. Just wondering what gonna happen next. Is there any chance that I get visa like that way?

Our Response:
As a rule, the current Home Office policy is to 'deport first - appeal later'. From 2012, if a person 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. Therefore, I suggest you seek some professional immigration advice before your appointment, please see link here .
AboutImmigration - 28-Feb-17 @ 12:42 PM
Aderin - Your Question:
I have overstayed my 2yr student visa since Aug 2016, and intend returning to my home country soon. (I experienced some personal setbacks like a failed relationship with a brit citizen ) which led me overstaying, although I still have plans to further my education and move on but I am now worried thinking of any chance of being able to reapply for studies from my home country. Is there any chance of getting back in for study again pls

Our Response:
If you have overstayed your visa by more than 90 days, then you will automatically be given a re-entry ban. Much depends upon how you plan to leave the UK, as to when you may be able to apply to re-enter, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 28-Feb-17 @ 12:09 PM
Hi I came from IndiaOn student visa . About two and half year ago I applied to extend my student visa but it was refused for some reasons and my appeal was refused aswell. So I've been overstayer for more than 2years . Since I've got job and concil house I've been paying all the taxes and i got engaged with my partner (Scottish) 6 month ago . She is full time student . We were getting married but home office want to investigate our marriage and we got interview on next month . Just wondering what gonna happen next . Is there any chance that I get visa like that way?
Jeet - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:04 PM
I have overstayed my 2yr student visa since Aug 2016, and intend returning to my home country soon. (I experienced some personal setbacks like a failed relationship with a brit citizen ) which led me overstaying, although I still have plans to further my education and move on but I am now worried thinking of any chance of being able to reapply for studies from my home country. Is there any chance of getting back in for study again pls
Aderin - 27-Feb-17 @ 6:37 PM
Kunal- Your Question:
Hi Can anyone tell me what are the possibilities for getting new visa after overstaying? If you apply from your home country.Does the point based system applied to overstayer at the time of new application?

Our Response:
Much depends upon how you left the country, please see gov.uk link here.
AboutImmigration - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:44 PM
Hi Can anyone tell me what are the possibilities for getting new visa after overstaying? If you apply from your home country. Does the point based system applied to overstayer at the time of new application?
Kunal - 25-Feb-17 @ 11:42 PM
Kumar - Your Question:
Can I get visa for my medical treatment I m overstayed in uk last 4 years

Our Response:
Much depends upon what the treatment is for. If it is an emergency the NHS will not turn you away. However, as an illegal immigrant you have no recourse to public funds and therefore you are not eligible for medical treatment on the NHS.
AboutImmigration - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:29 AM
Can I get visa for my medical treatment I m overstayed in uk last 4 years
Kumar - 23-Feb-17 @ 12:43 PM
BOB - Your Question:
Hi,My partner entered the UK in April 2016 on a marriage visa. Following a few complications we were legally married in the UK on 3rd September. Our daughter was then born in the UK on 24th September (how close?).My issue is that although my wife's marriage visa expired on 10th October 2016, she has remained in the UK until the baby was settled and various mother/baby (gestational diabetes) appointments were met.We're now looking to "confess to the immigration" authorities and I'm concerned as to the process.Tried researching the subject on line and found it very confusingAny advice ????

Our Response:
Yes. I'm afraid that if your partner has overstayed her visa expiry by more than 90 days without applying for a new visa, she is likely to be deported back to her home country, please see CAB link here. If she is deported back to her home country, she will face a mandatory ban on re-entering the UK. Therefore, I suggest you seek some specialist immigration advice regarding what is your best course of action.
AboutImmigration - 23-Feb-17 @ 12:39 PM
Hi, My partner entered the UK in April 2016 on a marriage visa. Following a few complications we were legally married in the UK on 3rd September. Our daughter was then born in the UK on 24th September (how close?). My issue is that although my wife's marriage visa expired on 10th October 2016, she has remained in the UK until the baby was settled and various mother/baby (gestational diabetes) appointments were met. We're now looking to "confess to the immigration" authorities and I'm concerned as to the process. Tried researching the subject on line and found it very confusing Any advice ????
BOB - 22-Feb-17 @ 8:04 PM
Hello, I'm a British Citizen and married to an American. We married in December 2015 in the UK while he was here doing his MBA, but when that expired I did not meet the financial requirements for the spouse visa (I was in Law School at the time). He therefore went back to America before his visa expired and has worked there while I finished all my exams. We've managed by visiting each other whenever poss. I am now working and meeting the financial threshold, however I have not been working for six months. Is it me as the British Citizen who needs to meet the financial threshold, or my husband as the applicant? The 6 months employment criteria is the issue: my husband has been working for over a year (albeit in California) so we could apply now if they only look at him, or do we have to wait until I have been at my current job over 6 months? Many thanks for any help!!
nkw - 18-Feb-17 @ 4:18 PM
hi sombody told me.that some new.rules coming in april 2017. like legacy or stay ?
aftab khan - 17-Feb-17 @ 11:51 PM
Sid - Your Question:
Hi. I married a visitor when she was in the UK during her visit visa period. After a while we were so in love we decided to live life in the UK as my work and business are all here. I earn above 24k annually. We made an application for her to stay with me. But it was refused after 9 months including an appeal and court which took a long time. all failed. They said for her to return and apply from Bangladesh. They sent letter for her to say her time is exhausted and she should make plans to leave. She voluntarily departed. After applying 2 times from Bangladesh, and both spouse visa refused because of same reason of overstaying, I don't understand. I am told to apply this way but it gets refused? total costs of £12,000 spent.( Lawyers and accountants and applications) I don't think she can ever come back. I'm scared and in shock. I am already missing my wife for 8 months now. Please help with some advice.

Our Response:
If your wife had overstayed in the UK beyond her visa dates then regardless of whether she departed voluntarily or not, she will be subjected to a mandatory re-entry ban, please see link here .
AboutImmigration - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:51 PM
Hi.I married a visitor when she was in the UK during her visit visa period. After a while we were so in love we decided to live life in the UK as my work and business are all here. I earn above 24k annually. We made an application for her to stay with me. But it was refused after 9 months including an appeal and court which took a long time . all failed. They said for her to return and apply from Bangladesh. They sent letter for her to say her time is exhausted and she should make plans to leave. She voluntarily departed.After applying 2 times fromBangladesh, and both spouse visa refused because of same reason of overstaying, I don't understand.I am told to apply this way but it gets refused? total costs of £12,000 spent.( Lawyers and accountants and applications)I don't think she can evercome back.I'm scared and in shock. I am already missing my wife for 8 months now.Please help with some advice.
Sid - 12-Feb-17 @ 5:47 PM
tunz - Your Question:
Pls I overstayed my uk work visa, but now i've a partner that's a british citizen and we have a 3month old baby together, I would like to know, how can I apply for my own britih stay pls?

Our Response:
You can see more via the CAB link here which will further tell you what you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 10-Feb-17 @ 2:07 PM
Pls i overstayed my uk work visa, but now i've a partner that's a british citizen and we have a 3month old baby together, i would like to know, how can i apply for my own britih stay pls?.
tunz - 10-Feb-17 @ 6:29 AM
Hi, i want to know if i can still working after my discretionary leave to remain expired, i sent my application 2 days after my visa expired, i have had that visa for 7 years, i already sent the bio metrics but i need to start working ASAP because my family, Thank you
milo - 7-Feb-17 @ 11:30 AM
I have been overstayed 1.5 years,after my student visa extend refused . As I had many reasonnot to go back. But now I really want to go back to my country . If I pay for my travelling tickets and informed to home office that I'm leaving voluntarily , will there anything happened in airport or will hey banned my passport ? Need advice Regard
SAS - 3-Feb-17 @ 12:17 PM
hiamAlgeriancometotheukinjunuray 2002 apply for asylumbutmyasylum faild andkeeplivingintheuk tillnow in2010 Iapplied underthelegacyprogramme wichevery onegotgranted butIwasoneofftheoneswhodidn'tgetresponsedon'tknowwhy in2012theyaskmeforfurthersubmittion wichIsubmit butstillgotrefused andwasreporting onceamonth tillnowamindetentioncenter in dorsetdon'tknowwhattodoneedhelp mynumber is 07529909228
mojo - 27-Jan-17 @ 2:32 PM
@heman=it doesnt say anything about my visa application bn refused? Plus it came along side with my biometric , and i did further research most people say they also recieve such letter and its got nothing to do with refusal
Okon - 26-Jan-17 @ 3:02 PM
@Okon = it means your application has been refused and means you will continue to be classed as an overstayer, until the Home Office sees fit to deport you or you can apply via another route, I think. Can anyone else give their view? Issac
HeMan - 26-Jan-17 @ 2:06 PM
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