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17 June 2024

What happens if you overstay your visa in the UK?

It is important to make sure that you do not overstay your visa, or there could be consequences. However, you might be wondering what happens in the event that you do overstay. Read our guide to find out more.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Woman having to leave the UK after finding out what happens when you overstay your visa in the UK

In recent years, the UK has seen record numbers of people enter the country legally on a visa. With such large numbers of people, it is natural that some may not be aware of some of the visa rules, and some may even lose track of how long they have been in the UK for if they have been busy. 

Anyone can be at risk of overstaying on their UK visa if they are not careful, and there could be repercussions for those who do so, whether they are doing it on purpose or not. 

You may be wondering what happens if you overstay your visa in the UK, if you will face any repercussions for it, and if there are any situations that could lead to you not being punished for overstaying. Read on to find out more.

What is considered to be overstaying a visa?

The Home Office will class someone as an overstayer if they stay in the UK beyond the expiry of their permission to remain in the UK. 

Once your visa has expired, you will have 30 days to leave the UK. If you do not leave, then there will be repercussions for overstaying on your UK visa. 

What happens if you overstay your visa in the UK?

There are some consequences of overstaying your visa in the UK. If you stay in the UK beyond the 30 days you are given to leave the country, then you will face several different repercussions depending on your own actions.

For example, you could be deported and banned from re-entering the UK for a number of years.

However, if you leave the UK voluntarily after staying beyond the 30-day period, you may still be banned, even if you left voluntarily. Beware that even if you leave of your own free will after the 30-day period, it could negatively impact any future visa applications you make. Having a history of overstaying can result in your future visa application being rejected.

In some more cases, there is also the possibility that you will be arrested and have to spend time in jail. Some people may also be given a fine, or be both fined and jailed. In particularly extreme  cases, it is likely that you will then be deported and banned from re-entry for up to 10 years. Even once the ban ends, you will still find it difficult to return, as you will find it difficult to apply for a new UK visa.

Please note that if you are under 18 when you overstay, then you will not be banned from re-entering the UK in the future due to the fact you were legally a child when the offence was committed.

If you do not leave, then there will be repercussions for overstaying on your UK visa.

Applying for a new visa

Some people may apply for a new visa or an extension not long before their current visa expires. As they have applied in time, they will not be classed as overstaying a visa whilst their application is being processed. There is nothing to worry about if you have applied before your current leave to remain in the UK expired.

Also, there is a possibility that you can apply for a new visa when you have overstayed, as there is not only a 30-day period for leaving the UK; there is also a 14-day grace period where you will be able to apply for a new visa. This 14-day period is part of the 30 days to leave. You must prove that you had a valid reason for overstaying within this 14-day period.

Please note that if you apply with this 14 day grace period, you will still be classed as being in the UK as an overstayer. However, having a pending application means that you will be able to remain until your application receives a result. During this time, you will be classed as not having leave to remain in the UK, and you will not be able to undertake activities such as working.

Valid reasons for overstaying a visa

Although most cases will get you into trouble, there are some examples of when you overstay in the UK that are seen as mitigating circumstances, and so, you will not be punished. 

These circumstances may also give you extra time to, for example, apply for a new visa or extend your current one. Generally, these situations have to be ones that you have no control over.

Examples of valid reasons for overstaying include:

  • Having a medical emergency
  • Travel restrictions to your home country
  • Delayed visa decision (as mentioned in the previous section)

Though these are valid reasons, you must still prove that the situation was out of your control, and that there was nothing you could do to avoid overstaying on your UK visa.

What rights do overstayers have?

Although you will have to leave the UK, you will retain some rights after you have overstayed. These are basic rights, and you should leave the UK as soon as you possibly can before you are punished.

Overstayers can still access emergency services, such as the fire service, police, and ambulances. 

Additionally, you will still be able to access emergency medical care, although you may have to pay for some medical services. As part of your visa, you will likely have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee which gives you access to NHS services. 

As you no longer have a valid visa, you will not be covered by the IHS. As a result, you may end up having to pay for some, but not all services. However, emergency care should always be free. Citizens Advice has a webpage dedicated to what free healthcare is available to you based on your immigration status if you would like to know more.

Finally, if you have children who are currently attending school, they will be able to do so until they turn 16 if you are overstaying on your visa.

How we can help

If you are having issues with applying for a new visa before your current one expires, and want to avoid what happens if you overstay your visa in the UK, then we can help you.

Our expert law team have helped countless clients with their applications for a UK visa, and they can help you too. You can book a 10-minute free assessment with our team, email them, or give them a call to see how they might be able to help you, and also to allow them to understand your situation.

After this, if our team can help you, then you can book a longer, paid consultation that lasts either 30 minutes, or an hour. 

However, if you are just interested in asking one or two questions about an issue you are experiencing instead of having a long consultation, we have 15 minute consultation available.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with your visa.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

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