uk visa enquiry

What if I am Illegally in the UK

Illegal Migration Act 2023 became law on 20 July 2023 in the UK. However, only a few provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 have come into force as of now. The new law aims to ‘prevent and deter unlawful migration, particularly the migration by unsafe and illegal routes, by removing certain persons from the UK who enter or arrive in the UK by breaching immigration control’.

The new provisions have been introduced with the following objectives:

  • To alter and deal with those living in the UK without the legal right to be there. The new act in the UK from 2024 will easily remove illegal immigrants from the UK.
  • To guarantee people with genuine needs that they will be given genuine protection and support. This will make big changes.
  • Putting an end to people who illegally enter the UK.

However, if you are in the UK illegally, you do have certain options to exercise which may allow you to live legally in the UK or leave the country. Living illegally in the UK means you entered the UK without permission or you continue living in the UK after your permission to stay in the country has expired. 

Options for those illegally in the UK

Apply for Asylum

If you believe that you will face persecution, torture or inhumane treatment upon return to the country of your nationality then you can seek Asylum in the UK. If your application is approved, they are granted ‘refugee’ status or a Humanitarian Protection status and if their application is refused you will be granted right to appeal against the decision.
The new act of Illegal Migration Act 2023 creates a ‘duty of disregard’ claims for protection as a refugee on human rights grounds, or if a person applies for a judicial review against their removal. The new act also prohibits claims of being a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking unless there are ‘compelling circumstances’. 
Asylum or human rights claims by nationals of countries considered ‘safe’ under the Act are also not accepted as valid. 
However, it is at the discretion of the Home Secretary to give a person legal permission to stay if he/she believes it would otherwise breach the European Convention on Human Rights, or there are other ‘exceptional circumstances’ under the immigration rules. 

Apply to stay in the UK if you have overstayed

You will be considered living in the UK illegally if you stay after your permission to stay has expired. However, in such a situation you can apply to stay in the UK within 14 days after your permission to stay has expired. 
You might be able to apply to stay in the UK if:

  • Living in another country would be very difficult for you for reasons such as lack of work, education, family or friends, or if you wouldn't be accepted back there or there are insurmountable obstacles;
  • You have lived in the UK for 20 years or more;
  • You are aged 18 to 25 and you have already lived in the UK for at least half your life;
  • You have a partner who has a right to stay (a British citizen or has settled status) in the UK and there are exceptional circumstances, resulting in unduly harsh consequences if you are required to leave the UK;
  • You have children in the UK, especially if they are British citizens, settled, or have been in the UK for 7 years or more; and
  • You were living in the UK on a partner visa (which just expired) and you have suffered domestic abuse at the hands of the partner related to your visa

 Voluntary return to your country and apply from outside the UK to return

This option is more attractive for people who do not have children and are unable to meet the high threshold test of exceptional circumstances.

If you are in a relationship with a British citizen or a settled person and do not have children, then you can leave the UK and apply to return from outside the UK. The only issue can be if you have frustrated the immigration rules in a significant manner then the Home Office can ban you for 1 year, however you will always be able to return to the UK and in most cases the ban can be removed as it would be unfair for people who try and return to set the things right to be penalized for choosing to do the right thing of maintaining immigration control.

We have had great success in such cases and it is less expensive and daunting compared to the risk of being removed from the UK or facing numerous refusals wasting a lot of money.

If you are looking for professional advice or representation of your application, please contact Visa and Migration Ltd on 02034111261 or email us –


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Visa and Migration is a private OISC regulated company (F201500999) and is not an official Government body. If you would like to prepare and submit your UK immigration application yourself you can do so by visiting the UKVI website.