I’ve overstayed my visa in the UK. What should I do?
In March 2017, the Home Office tightened the Immigration Rules on the period of time that a non-EEA national is allowed to stay in the UK beyond the expiry of their UK visa. These changes were enforced on 6 April 2017. The ‘grace period’ for an overstayer was reduced from 28 days to 14 days. If you have “overstayed your welcome” (i.e. remained in the UK after the expiry of your UK visa for more than 14 days), you will be subject to a 1-year re-entry ban.
The nature of these changes causes some concern given that the period of time has become much shorter. People may not have enough time to wind up their affairs in the UK before a departure. Many believe that the Home Office will send them an official letter to “invite” them to leave the country which is not always the case. Some may have inadvertently overstayed for a day or two after the 14 days’ grace period. Regardless of the reason, the Home Office will impose a 12-month re-entry ban on those who have breached the time limit.
If you have overstayed your visa, but plan to leave the UK voluntarily, you should write to the Home Office and indicate your intention to leave as soon as possible. You can then apply to return to the UK in one year. Our UK immigration solicitors can assist you in drafting this letter. The consequences of these changes are very serious and should not be ignored; knowingly overstaying your visa is a criminal offence. Although prosecutions are relatively rare, if a non-EEA national tries to overstay, they may face deportation or removal from the UK. With the new rules in place, they will be refused entry at the border if they return to the UK within the 12-month period. For further information on re-entry bans, please contact our UK immigration solicitors.
Overstayed my visa in the UK – Exemptions
There are, however, certain exemptions when an application is made prior to the expiry of a UK visa. If you intend to stay after the expiry of your UK visa (Tier 2 or Tier 4), please arrange a consultation with our UK immigration solicitors prior to the expiry of your UK visa. We will review your matter to see whether we can make an ‘in-time’ application to the Home Office. The Immigration Rules stipulate that a person can continue to stay past their visa’s expiry date until a further decision on that application is made.
In addition, the Immigration Rules do provide some leeway for non-EEA nationals who have overstayed in the UK, but wish to re-enter the UK to join their family or their partner. One route is to apply for entry clearance as a spouse or family member of the individual who presently has leave to remain in the UK. Our UK immigration solicitors will be able to provide you with some further information in relation to the application of the above UK visa and how to apply to re-enter the UK without a ban. Alternatively, if you are an overstayer and you want a chance to remain or return to the UK, please contact our expert UK immigration solicitors.
For information on other visas or leave to remain in the UK, please click here for further details.
Written by Loretta Pang