If you are still in the country when your UK visa expires, you are classed as an ‘overstayer’. You will have 30 days from the date your visa expired to leave the country.
You will be able to stay in the UK if you have applied for a new visa before the expiry date of your old visa.
You may also be deemed as an overstayer if either of the following apply:
- Your visa has been gained using fraudulent means, such as if you used fraudulent documents
- Not mentioning something on your application that may have restricted yourself from getting a visa, such as having a criminal record
What are the consequences of becoming an overstayer?
It is a criminal offence to remain in the UK knowing your visa has expired. Overstaying should be avoided at all costs. An overstayer is liable for enforced removal to their country of origin. A ‘hostile environment’ will be made for the overstayer, such as restrictions on the ability to open a bank account, rent property, access medical treatment and driving. It also deprives overstayers of their right to work.
In some cases, you may still be able to apply for a new visa if you can prove that you had no control over the delay of renewing your visa, such as being in hospital. If this is the case, you will have to apply with your reason within 14 days from the date your visa expired.
The Home Office offers guidance on applications for overstayers which provides examples of reasonable delays. The Secretary of State will determine whether the reason you have provided is understandable..
Awaiting your visa decision
If your visa has expired and you are currently awaiting a decision on your application, any activities in which your previous visa permitted will be suspended (such as working, opening a bank account, etc.) until you have received approval of a new visa.
If you continue to work in the UK with an expired visa, this is a criminal offence. If your employer is aware of your expired visa, by allowing you to work, they are also committing a criminal offence and will be at risk of Home Office penalties.
Applied in time but the application was rejected
If you submitted your application for renewal before your current visa has expired, you are entitled to 14 days after being refused a visa to apply again (if permitted to) to avoid overstaying.
Within 14 days from the refusal, should you fail to apply in this period, you will then be deemed as an overstayer.
Leaving the UK
If you do not leave the UK voluntarily within the 30 days from when your visa expired, you can be deported back to your country of origin. You can check here on what to do if you have been told you’re going to be deported.
If you stay in the UK longer than the 30-day period, you may get banned from re-entering the UK for 1 to 10 years. The duration of your ban will be affected by;
- How many days before you voluntarily leave the UK in the 30-day period
- Whether you have left voluntarily or you have been deported
- Whether you can afford the cost of returning to your country of origin
Legal rights for an overstayer
Regardless of how long you have been an overstayer for, you are still entitled to the following rights;
- To send your children to school until they turn 16
- Able to use emergency services in the UK (fire, police, ambulance)
- Essential and emergency healthcare
- Treatment if you are having a baby
You can check the NHS charges for people from abroad here.
Will overstaying affect my ability to re-enter the UK in the future?
If you are forced to leave the UK after the 30-day period, you may get banned from re-entering the UK for 1 to 10 years. However, if you leave voluntarily and at your own expense within the 30 days, there is a good chance you will not receive a re-entry ban.
Overstaying your authorised period of leave could have a negative impact on any future applications used to apply for UK visas. This is due to the Home Office seeing you as a high-risk of staying in the UK illegally.
If your reasons are seen as fraudulent (overstaying deliberately with no valid reason to extend the 30-day period), there are serious consequences when trying to re-enter the UK in the future.
If you are looking for further advice on your visa and/or overstaying, get in touch with our UK immigration specialists.