Overstaying your visa is a reasonably common issue; any number of factors such as not remembering when your visa expires, an emergency event happening, or an unexpected issue are just some of the reasons people overstay. So, what do you do if you have inadvertently overstayed your visa?
In this article, we are going to look at your options if you are in the UK and your visa has already expired. By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of what to do next to settle your visa issues.
Once your visa has expired, you have overstayed, regardless of whether it’s a Spouse or Tier 2 General Visa. You must leave the country within 30 days to avoid being classified as an overstayer, and potentially affecting your future options of returning to the UK. There is, however, an option for those who have a good reason to have overstayed. If you have overstayed due to something exceptional such as a health issue or a family bereavement for fewer than 14 days, you may be able to apply for a new visa.
If you want to apply for a new visa and have overstayed by fewer than 14 days, you will need to provide documentary evidence to prove your reason for overstaying. If you were in a hospital, you will be expected to provide documentary evidence of your stay. You will also need to prove documentary evidence if you have suffered a family bereavement and is your reason for overstaying your visa. If you do not have an exceptional circumstance, you will need to leave the country within 30 days to avoid affecting your future potential to come back to the UK.
To comply with your visa conditions, you will need to leave the country within 30 days of your visa ending. This will ensure that if you ever wish to travel to the UK in the future, your immigration history is not going to be problematic. This is, of course, if you intend to leave the country - if you do not, then you will need to seek an alternative solution before your current visa comes to an end. Overstaying obviously frowned upon by UK Visas and Immigration, and is never an ideal choice.
If you do not choose to leave the country voluntarily within 30 days of your visa ending, you will be considered an overstayer and will be staying in the country illegally. Due to the so-called “Hostile Environment” policies instituted by the current Conservative government, your immigration status is likely to be thoroughly scrutinised for every move you make, such as applying for jobs or trying to rent a property. This means it is not a great plan to hide the fact you are an overstayer if you want to stay in the UK long-term or return at a later point.
As we showed in the last section, overstaying is a poor long-term plan for migrants in the UK. The policies of the government have been implemented to purposefully make life more difficult for those in the UK who do not have a valid visa. With Brexit on the horizon, immigration has once again become a very divisive subject in the UK, and the government has stepped up their attempts to remove migrants who are in the UK without a valid visa, whether they are an overstayer or have entered the country illegally.
Your best option, if you have overstayed, is to leave the country. If this is more than 30 days after your visa has expired, your future chances of coming back to the UK are likely to be significantly affected. While this is obviously far from ideal, it is certainly preferable to staying and taking the risk of possible detention and deportation. Of course, if you are detained, you are able to gain access to immigration lawyers such as ourselves in order to help to make your case, but if you have overstayed, your case will likely be difficult to defend.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to switch visa routes if you have overstayed by only a few days and have good reason to have done so (such as a family bereavement or you have spent some time in a hospital with a medical problem). You will, of course, need to meet the eligibility criteria for your chosen visa and will need to ensure you have sufficient documentary evidence to use as proof of your reason for overstaying. You will be allowed to stay in the UK while waiting for your decision but if you are unsuccessful, you may need to leave the country.
If you do make an application to switch your visa, or you have attempted to extend your current visa after overstaying, you may well be a little more likely to get a rejection (on the grounds your reason for overstaying was not sufficient). You will be informed of your application result in due course, and will also be told if you are allowed to apply again. If you are not allowed to apply again, you will need to leave the country within the period defined by your situation.
If you have overstayed your visa in the UK and need help then do not hesitate to give us a call. Our expert immigration team can help you to resolve your visa issues and ensure your stay in the UK is legal. We offer all manner of immigration-related services and can help in all manner of circumstances. So for help and advice, speak to a one of our solicitors for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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