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UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 24 Dec 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.


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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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, i lived in uk for 6 years. I was on student visa and then my college got banned and i overstayed my visa. Now i am leaving country volunteerly and getting married in pakistan. The girl is british citizen and i am worried now is that overstay of more than 2 years will affect my spouse visa application.
zubi - 21-Sep-18 @ 4:50 PM
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
Hi, my boyfriend and father of our 7month old daughter has overstayed his visitor visa for almost 4 years! He is 21 and I am 20. We want his stay sorted out so he can look after me and my daughter. I don’t want him to go back to St Lucia as he would want us to go and I am starting my university course soon. Please help if you can
Ash - 22-Aug-18 @ 9:37 AM
Hello I came in uk 2011 as a visitor visa than 2012 I get back in my country and took tier4 general visa , and 2014 my visa expired and I overstayed they took me in deportation but released me based of my relationship more than 2 years with British citizen , now it’s 2018 and and I decide to get back to my home country and married there and out application from there, is it a good advice or not ?? Or it’s possible to sort out my problem while I’m in UK ?
Nini - 18-Aug-18 @ 6:40 AM
@KayKay1986 - It depends on how long you have overstayed. If you Google reentry ban UK the Home Office document will be the first thing to come up
TJ. - 14-Aug-18 @ 10:50 PM
Hello I have heard a couple of times about a manditory 5 year ban for overstaying on a visitor visa. Could someone point this out to me in the UKVI policies please?
KayKay1986 - 14-Aug-18 @ 3:12 PM
Haykay - Your Question:
My visa expired 83 days ago. And am leaving uk tomorrow. What are the likely consequence when am going

Our Response:
The link here , should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 7-Aug-18 @ 12:42 PM
@Pvdr - To regularise your status, you must leave the UK, serve a mandatory five year re-entry ban for overstaying a visitor visa and thereafter apply for the appropriate spouse visa.
TJ. - 7-Aug-18 @ 12:06 PM
@Haykay - If you are leaving at your own expense, you are banned from returning to the UK for one year. If you are leaving at the State's expense, you are banned from returning to the UK for two years.
TJ. - 7-Aug-18 @ 12:03 PM
My visa expired 83 days ago. And am leaving uk tomorrow. What are the likely consequence when am going
Haykay - 6-Aug-18 @ 1:21 PM
@smithy - The HO would expect you to go with him or stay here and he would have to apply for a spouse visa.
Cal84 - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:11 AM
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