If you remain in the UK after your visa or Home Office permission has expired, you may be considered an overstayer. Overstaying can negatively impact your immigration record and any future UK immigration applications. The Home Office does not remind individuals of their visa expiry date. Hence, it is your responsibility to be aware of when your visa expires.
The first step in determining whether you have overstayed in the UK is to know your visa expiry date. You should ensure that you know the date your visa expires by checking your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and your Home Office approval documents. You should make sure to check both documents, as the Home Office is currently issuing all BRPs with a maximum end date of 31 December 2024 (regardless of the actual visa expiry date) as part of their efforts to digitalise the immigration system.
You can also check your immigration record by submitting a Subject Access Request to the Home Office. The Home Office will usually respond within 30 days, subject to delays. On your record, you should be able to view your UK immigration history, including any periods of overstaying. If you cannot access the decision letter granting your leave to remain, you should apply for the ‘specific’ subject access request. If you want to access an electronic summary of your immigration history (including your periods of overstaying), the ‘basic’ subject access request should be enough.
What happens if you overstay your visa?
It is a criminal offence under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 to overstay your visa without reasonable cause. If your visa has expired, you have 30 days to leave the UK voluntarily at your own expense before you face a ban on re-entry. Alternatively, you may seek to rely on the 14-day rule. Under the current rules, for late applications, the Home Office will disregard a period of overstaying provided you apply for a new visa, or renewal of your existing visa, within 14 days of your previous visa expiring, and that you can evidence ‘good reason’ for having overstayed your visa permission.
The Home Office has provided outline guidance on what constitutes an acceptable ‘good reason’ for missing your visa expiry deadline. You must be able to demonstrate that there were exceptional circumstances and be able to provide evidence to back up your claim. For example, receiving emergency treatment in a hospital or the bereavement of a close family member would mostly like be accepted as a ‘good reason’.
It is a criminal offence to overstay your visa without good reason. You will not be lawfully allowed to work and could face a prison sentence if caught doing so. Further, if your period of overstay exceeds the 90 day limit, you will more than likely face an exclusion on re-entering the UK for at least one year.