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How Long Can You Overstay Your Visa Before Renewal?

It can be very easy, when you've been in the UK for many years on a visa, to forget when it expires. This is just one of the many reasons why people overstay their visa in the UK. Whatever the reason, overstaying your visa is a serious issue and should not be ignored. If you are in this position, this article will help you to understand your rights and responsibilities at the end of your visa period. We will let you know the rules as they stand and offer you practical advice to help make the best of your situation if your visa has expired and you are still in the UK.

Can You Legally Overstay Your Visa In The UK?

Essentially, no.

In the event that your visa has expired, you have two options that you must take immediately-

  1. Leave the UK - should you leave the UK within 30 days of your visa expiring, you will not be subject to a re-entry ban of at least 12 months (although this could be longer if the Home Office have asked you to leave or if you require financial assistance to leave the UK). However, re-entry bans do not apply to Partner or Parent based entry clearance applications.
  2. Remain in the UK - if you intend to stay in the UK, you must submit an application within 14 days and provide your reasons as to why you did not submit your application in-time. The Home Office will then consider whether or not to exercise their discretion and review your application notwithstanding it is 'out of time'.

Irrespective of whether or not the Home Office agree to review your application, the fact that you have over-stayed will likely be taken into account - particularly where there is a 'genuine intention to return' test (for example in Visitor visa or Tier 4 (Student) visa applications). It is therefore; always best to ensure you stay within the boundaries of your visa, which is especially true if you wish to make the UK your home in the long-term.

Acceptable Reasons For Overstaying Your Visa?

While there are few good reasons for overstaying your visa, the Home Office does offer the option to apply for a new visa up to 14 days after your current visa has expired. To apply for a visa in this 14-day window, you will need to be able to prove you have a very good reason for why you could not submit your application before your visa expired. The scope of these reasons is laid out in the visa guidance and encompasses issues such as emergency medical treatment, family bereavement or receiving a late reply from an educational institution.

While there are a few good reasons for overstaying your visa, the vast majority of reasons will not be accepted. Forgetting the date of your visa end or being too busy, for example, are not acceptable reasons. As well as having a good reason, you should try and submit supporting documents whenever possible so that you can evidence your reasons as the Home Office may not accept a bare assertion without proof. In the event of a medical emergency, you will need to provide medical evidence to confirm that you could not submit the application earlier. Regrettably the same requirement to provide supporting documents would apply in the case of a family bereavement. Although we use these as examples of acceptable reasons, these may not be the only basis of an acceptable reason. Please contact one of our Senior Associates who will be able to take further instructions from you and advise you further on the merits of your reason and the supporting documents that should be provided thereafter.

Awaiting A Visa Decision

While you are able to remain in the UK while waiting for a visa decision where it is submitted after your visa expired, you will not be permitted to enjoy the same rights and entitlements you had whilst your visa was still valid. The right to continue to enjoy the rights and entitlements of your visa only applies in cases where an in time application is submitted (as protected by section 3c of the Immigration Act 1971).

Rejected Visa Applications

As long as you have made a new visa application before your current visa expires, you will have 14 days after a refusal to lodge a new application (as long as this is allowed - you will be informed of this in your rejection letter). If you fail to make a new application or are no longer allowed to apply further, you will need to leave the country to avoid becoming a visa overstayer. If you plan on coming back to the UK later, you should avoid overstaying at all costs due to the potential damage it can incur, as your records will show all previous infractions.

Getting More Help

if you have over-stayed your visa, then please get in touch with us immediately. Our experienced team of specialists can help ensure you avoid overstaying while also gaining the best chance of staying in the UK for the long-term. Do not wait until it is too late, call today and speak to one of our solicitors about your specific situation.

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