Overstaying in the UK after visa expiry
It is easy for members of the public to be judgemental about those who overstay in the UK after their visa expires but until you find yourself in that position it is best not to judge those who overstay either by accident or because they fear, for political or economic reasons, a return to their home country. In this blog we look at overstaying, what it means and what you can do about it if you have become an overstayer.
If you require assistance in relation to overstaying as a result of travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government has provided specific guidance which you can find by clicking here:
If you need urgent advice on your visa extension application or switching to a different type of visa or if you need help as you are classed as an ‘overstayer’ the specialist team of Immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors in central London can help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.
We will give you a speedy and honest opinion on your best immigration options and quickly submit a visa application to avoid you becoming an overstayer or will explain the reasons for your overstay. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
What is overstaying in the UK?
The Home Office will class you as an overstayer if you remain in the UK after the expiry of your visa or leave to remain and you do not have a pending application to:
• Extend your visa
• Switch your visa to a different visa category
• Settle in the UK by applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain
If your pending application is granted by the Home Office then you won't be an overstayer but you will have to leave the UK or be classed as an overstayer if your extension or switch or settlement application is refused.
With Brexit and the forthcoming end of free movement for EU citizens the likelihood is that in future years more people will be caught out by Immigration Rules and end up overstaying as the Immigration Rules that currently apply to non-EEA citizens are to be extended to EU citizens who do not have Permanent Residence, Settled Status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and who travel to the UK to live or work after the end of free movement.
What happens if I overstay in the UK after visa expiry?
You may be thinking does it really matter if I stay a bit longer in the UK after my visa expires or you may have just let the visa lapse assuming that the Home Office would notify you to remind you to apply to extend your visa. Immigration solicitors will tell you that is does matter if you overstay and that the Home Office don’t, as a matter of routine, contact all visa holders to warn them of their visa expiry date.
The effect of overstaying on your visa includes:
• If you overstay it goes down on your Immigration record. That means if you do sort out the overstay and get another visa you may still find it harder to apply to settle in the UK. If you don’t sort out another visa and you leave the UK you will find it harder to get a new visa to re-enter the UK. The longer the period of overstay the harder it will be to sort out so it is best to take expert legal advice as soon as you know that you are at risk of overstaying to see if an urgent extension or switch application can be made on your behalf
• You commit a criminal offence in the UK if you enter the country and are subject to Immigration controls and limited leave to remain in the UK but you do not leave in accordance with your visa or you breach Immigration Rules by working or studying in the UK when you have no right to do so because your visa has expired
• Once your visa has expired you have thirty days to leave the UK on a voluntary basis and at your own expense. If you don’t leave within the thirty days you could face a ban on re-entry to the UK
• You will be subject to the Immigration hostile environment policy and will not be able to prove your right to, for example, rent accommodation , work or even do something as simple as open up a bank account, drive or get medical treatment.
Immigration solicitors stress that it is best to prepare for the expiry of your visa. Specialist Immigration solicitors will ask you what your Immigration plans and goals are when you first apply for a visa and will work with you to make sure that your visa extension or switch application is submitted in plenty of time and with the right supporting paperwork. If you didn’t use a solicitor (or an expert in Immigration law) it isn’t too late to get specialist legal advice even when your visa is about to expire or has lapsed as they can work out your best option.
For fast advice on your visa extension application or switching options to avoid becoming or remaining an overstayer call the specialist team of Immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.
My UK visa has expired. What should I do?
If your UK visa has expired it can be tempting to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. It won't. The problem will only get worse with time so you must act now to sort it out. Sometimes just speaking to an immigration solicitor on the phone reassures you that there is a solution to your overstay if you are proactive and sort it out with some expert Immigration law help.
If your visa has already expired and you are still in the UK and are classed as an overstayer by the Home Office then the fact that you have overstayed on your visa is a ground for the Home Office to refuse to agree to give you an extension to your visa or to switch visa, whatever the merits of your visa application. However, the Immigration Rules say you can still make your visa application and the overstay can be overlooked provided that:
• You submit the new visa application to the Home Office within fourteen days of the expiry date of your previous visa AND
• You have a good reason why your visa extension application or visa switch application could not be made on time, or in other words, priory to the expiry of your previous visa.
The above conditions are not an either/or situation. You have to act quickly as you only have fourteen days even if you have a really good reason for not being organised and not applying for a new visa before the expiry of your old visa.
What is a good reason for overstaying?
When it comes to applying late for a visa extension or a visa switch then what is a good reason or excuse for overstaying? The Immigration Rules offer guidance to Home Office officials on what is a good reason for someone having overstayed on their visa before putting in a fresh visa application.
The Immigration Rules say that Home Office officials shed look at the reason provided and consider:
• How plausible the reason is – the excuse that you were kidnapped by aliens (or such like) won't amount to a plausible reason
• Whether the reason was outside your control or whether the difficulty could realistically have been surmounted. A reason given that there was a train strike so you could not travel to hand deliver your visa application or your laptop was stolen so you could not submit the application online may be outside your control but not necessarily insurmountable unless you are able to prove that the loss of your laptop (with police report to evidence that the theft occurred) meant you needed more time as your supporting paperwork were only accessible on the hard drive of your laptop and could not be accessed remotely
• The credibility of the evidence that you provide – a letter from a friend will carry little if any weight but a police report to say that you were the victim of an assault or a medical report from a doctor will carry substantial weight if sufficiently detailed.
Immigration solicitors often give the example of an illness and hospitalisation or family bereavement as good reason for the delay in submission of a visa extension or switch application but there are others, provided that you have got the evidence to back it up and the reason was beyond your control.
Am I an overstayer if I submit a visa application within fourteen days?
It would be reasonable to assume that you are not an overstayer if you have a good reason for missing your visa expiry deadline and put your application into the Home Office within fourteen days of the expiry of your old visa. However, the Immigration Rules are not that generous and do class you as an overstayer from the date your original visa expired to the date that your visa extension application or switch application was granted.
All the good reason and fourteen-day rule means is that when the Home Office official looks at the new visa application they will be able to ignore the overstay and not automatically refuse your application as you are classed as an overstayer.
It may seem unfair to you that you are classed as an overstayer until your visa extension or switch application is granted by the Home Office rather than the date you submit the application to the Home Office as the processing time is down to the Home Office caseworker and outside your control. If you are submitting a visa application as an overstayer it is best to ask your Immigration solicitor about how quickly your application can be processed and if there are any options to speed the process up.
Remember, if you submitted your visa extension or switch application before your original visa expired you are not classed as an overstayer even if the Home Office takes a long time to process your application and your new application is still waiting for a Home Office decision at the time your old visa expired. That’s why, even if you are on the last minute, it is better to try to submit an extension or switch application before the expiry of your visa.
My visa application was refused. Am I now an overstayer?
It is worrying when your visa is due to expire and you have a pending application at the Home Office waiting for a decision. Many worry that if their visa extension or visa switch application is refused, they will have to get the next flight out of the UK.
If you applied to extend your visa or switch to a new visa category before the expiry of your old visa and your new visa application is refused by the Home Office then you may (subject to Immigration Rules) have a right to appeal or apply for an administrative review of the Home Office decision to refuse your visa application. If your visa application is refused then it is vital that you take urgent legal advice on your best appeal options or alternative Immigration routes as quickly as possible as there are strict deadlines for appeals and administrative reviews.
An immigration solicitor will also be able to advise you on whether you have the option of making a fresh visa application (if you applied for a new visa before the expiry of your old one) rather than appealing the refusal decision. The Immigration Rules on this are complicated and depend on whether your visa application was refused with a right of appeal or a right to apply for an administrative review or with no right of appeal.
The crucial point that all Immigration solicitors reinforce is that time is of the essence if you are at risk of becoming an overstayer or you are an overstayer who has had their visa extension application or switch application refused by the Home Office. Failure to act very quickly may mean the difference between whether you can stay in the UK and whether you have to leave the UK either voluntarily or forcibly.
If you are worried about becoming an overstayer, or you are already in that position, then you need urgent Immigration legal advice from the experts.
Central London based OTS Solicitors are recommended in the two leading law directories (The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession) for their expertise in Immigration law. The Immigration law team is proud of its reputation for fast, friendly Immigration legal advice that is easy to understand and designed to achieve the best Immigration solution for you. Call the Immigration lawyers on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online to discuss how we can help you.
If you require assistance in relation to overstaying as a result of travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government has provided specific guidance which you can find by clicking here