Blue sand timer

Overstaying in the UK

Overstaying refers to remaining in the UK beyond the validity of a visa without making a valid application to extend the visa, read more about the impacts.

What is considered overstaying in the UK?

When an individual is given a UK visa, they are given a specific amount of time where they can stay in the UK (called the validity period). To “overstay” means to remain in the UK beyond the validity of a visa without making a valid application to extend that visa. Overstaying is a breach of UK immigration law.

What happens if you overstay in the UK?

If you overstay in the UK without making an application to extend your visa, then you will immediately become liable to immigration detention, and possible enforcement action by way of removal.

It is also important to realise that to knowingly overstay a visa is also an offence under Section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 and can result in a conviction carrying a period of imprisonment and a fine. There are also other, more far-reaching consequences on a person’s immigration history to bear in mind.


Are there any acceptable reasons for overstaying in the UK?

There are very few acceptable reasons for overstaying a visa. The Home Office operates a policy that indicates that discretion can be exercised, but only if there were exceptional circumstances which prevented the applicant from making an in-time application. 

Valid reasons for overstaying a visa in the UK

Examples of possible valid reasons when overstaying a visa in the UK may be valid include:

  • Bereavement;

  • Medical emergency;

  • Covid restrictions; and

  • Associated regulations (exceptional assurances could have been applied for) and technical issues,

It is important to note that each case will be assessed on an individual basis.

A person in the Armed Forces may have a reasonable excuse if they were deployed at short notice.

Lack of funding is not an acceptable reason to overstay, as the Home Office has made provision for this. 


What happens if your visa expires whilst in the UK while you are waiting for a new one?

Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 permits a person to remain in the UK provided that they have submitted an in-time application to extend their stay in the UK. If an in-time application to extend a visa has been made then an individual will not not become an overstayer on this basis while their valid application remains outstanding. The conditions of the previous visa will continue whilst the application is under consideration.



What happens if you applied for a new visa or an extension but it has been rejected - can you overstay?

If an application made to extend a visa, or switch into another visa category is subsequently rejected then the person will become an overstayer. An application that is rejected does not extend a person’s right to stay. It is therefore very important to ensure that an application meets all of the requirements necessary in order to be granted.

Thinking about extending your visa?

If your visa is expiring and you would like to remain in the UK, why not get in touch with us today and claim your free consultation with an expert immigration lawyer to assess your options?

Claim your free consultation

Once your visa expires, how many days do you have before you must leave the UK?

There is no "grace period" within which you can lawfully overstay your visa. Each visa (other than those for settlement) has a validity date. The visa holder must leave the UK on or before the date shown on that visa, or make a valid application to extend that visa before the date shown, or they will become an overstayer. 


Can you be deported if you have overstayed in the UK?

Not usually. Deportation action is applied to those who have committed offences in the UK that result in a custodial sentence of 12 months or over, or persistent offending behaviour. Whilst it is technically an offence, the simple act of overstaying is very rarely charged as one, and does not therefore usually result in a sentence of over 12 months imprisonment, so in that case, it cannot trigger automatic deportation provisions. However, the overstayer may be subject to removal action. 


Is overstaying a crime in the UK?

Overstaying your visa is a criminal offence in the UK. It is important that you take appropriate action to avoid overstaying in the UK as it can have serious implications.


Can you go to jail for overstaying your visa in the UK?

Overstaying your visa is a crime, therefore, if you are found to be overstaying your visa in the UK you could face a sentence of over 12 months imprisonment


I overstayed my visa in the UK, can I return?

Whether and when you return to the UK after overstaying is dependent on how long you overstayed your visa in the UK. For instance, if you overstayed in the UK for more than 30 days and did not leave the UK voluntarily then you could have a re-entry ban which lasts for up to 10 years. 



A person has overstayed for less than 14 days before making a valid application.

The period of overstay can normally be disregarded, so there will be no effect on future immigration applications and there will be no ban.

The period of overstay is 30 days or more (or 90 days if before April 2017) and they then left the UK at their own expense.

There will be no re-entry ban.

A person overstayed and then the Home Office funded the costs of their return.

There will be a 1 year re-entry ban in most cases. 

A person overstayed and after exhausting appeal or administrative review processes they left voluntarily at Home Office expense within 6 months of a removal notice.

Then a 2 year re-entry ban will apply in most cases.

A person overstayed, and after exhausting appeal or administrative review processes they left voluntarily at Home Office expense more than 6 months of a removal notice.

There will be a 5 year re-entry ban in most cases.


What are the consequences of overstaying in the UK?

As mentioned overstaying in the UK can have implications for future UK visa applications and it can result in imprisonment. However, other long-term effects of overstaying in the UK may include:

  • The inability to work or to claim benefits;

  • The inability to access the NHS whilst any new application is decided; 

  • The need to declare the period of overstay on all future applications including applications for countries other than the UK and;

  • It may also prevent eligibility for an application for settlement, and citizenship being granted in a timely manner. 


Can you get a visa after overstaying in the UK

You may be able to get a visa if you can prove that you couldn’t make an in-date application to renew your visa due to something beyond your control (i.e. a hospital stay). However, you must apply and state your reason for the late application within 14 days of your leave or current visa expiring. 

In terms of future visa applications, overstaying in the UK can have a significant impact as it is a breach in the Immigration Rules. It is important to therefore ensure that you do not overstay in the UK, not only because it can impact future visa applications but because it is a criminal offence.



How can Paragon Law help?

It is important to note that overstaying in the UK is a serious issue and should be avoided at all costs. Individuals should ensure that they are aware of the expiration date of their visa and take the necessary steps to extend or leave the country before the expiration date.

At Paragon Law, our expert immigration lawyers can support individuals to either extend their visa or switch to another immigration route. If you need to take action before your visa expires then please contact us.

Make an enquiry

Share this article

Subscribe for updates

Question marks in bubbles-1

Need help to extend your stay in the UK?

If you would like to know more about how you can extend your stay in the UK, then get in touch with us today to speak to an expert immigration lawyer.

Enquire now
Working on a UK visa

Working on a UK visa

Many visas allow people to work in the UK, but did you know that some visas have restrictions over what jobs you can do and how many hours you can work?
Clock icon 8 min read