When considering applying for a UK visa, it is really important to consider what you want to do whilst you are here. In particular:
- How long do you want to stay in the UK?
- Do you want to work whilst in the UK?
There are several types of visa / leave to enter or remain for which you can apply:
Indefinite leave to remain
This allows successful applicants permission to live and work in the UK permanently. It will essentially allow you to permanently reside, work and build a life in the UK. You will not however have the full rights of a UK citizen (such as the right to vote in local government elections).
As 1: Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrant
This route is for extremely talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts who wish to work in the UK. Individuals are expected to be already recognised as world leaders in their fields, or who have demonstrated exceptional talent and are likely to become future world leaders in their particular field.
Entry will be granted to successful applicants for a period of up to 3 years and 4 months, subject to the following conditions:
- You will not be entitled to benefits paid by the UK government such as job seekers allowance
- You may be required to register your accommodation address with the UK police and keep this updated
- You must not be employed as a doctor or dentist in training, or a professional sports person
Applicants must not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal (discussed below).
As 2: Tier 1 (General) Migrant
This route is for highly skilled migrants who wish to work or become self-employed in the UK. This is particularly targeted at those with particular skills that are desired to aid the UK economy such as writers, composers, artists and lawyers. Generally the applicant must have spent a continuous period of at least 5 years lawfully in the UK prior to application.
Entry will be granted for a period of 2 to 3 years with similar conditions to the above. Applicants must not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal (discussed below). In addition, the applicant must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws, with the exception that a period of overstaying of up to 28 days will be disregarded.
If you wish to stay in the UK for a shorter period, visitors visas are available. This will allow you to remain in the UK for a maximum of 6 months (or 12 months for a person accompanying an academic visitor as their child, spouse or partner). You must however meet certain conditions, including but not limited to:
- You must not take employment in the UK.
- You must not be coming to the UK with your main purpose being to undertake a course of study
- You must have enough money to maintain and accommodate yourself, or demonstrate that your friends or family are able and intend to do so
- You can meet the cost of your outward journey
- You are age 18 or over
- You do not intend during your visit to marry or form a civil partnership
- You do not intend to receive private medical treatment during your visit to the UK
If you wish to visit the UK to marry, form a civil partnership, study, receive private medical treatment or work, you will need a visa which specifically allows you to undertake that activity.
We all know that there can be serious consequences for those entering the UK illegally, including deportation. However there can be equally serious cases for those who enter the UK legally but stay in the UK beyond their period of authorised stay. This group of people are commonly referred to as “overstayers”.
It is a criminal offence (under Section 24 Immigration Act 1971) to overstay your period of authorised stay in the UK or fail to comply with the conditions imposed upon your admission into the UK without reasonable excuse. It is also an offence (under Section 25 Immigration Act 1971) to do anything to facilitate another person’s illegal entry, transit or stay in the UK. This includes assisting an asylum seeker if done knowingly and for your own gain; there are exceptions for asylum charities.‘I am an overstayer and have been for a couple of years. I have a child, wife and a job in the UK. I’m scared that I’ll get found out and get my employer into trouble’.
You are committing a criminal offence by staying in the UK beyond your period of authorised stay. So are your employers if they are aware that you are an overstayer. The offence can be tried within 3 years of commission (which it sounds here is ongoing). The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine. It is recommended that you speak to a lawyer if you are concerned that you may be currently committing a criminal offence.‘I have a student visa which expired recently. I am unsure about the extension process but only want to stay another 6 months. I’m thinking it would be easier to just overstay, but will that have an impact on ability to apply for a visa in the future if I want to come back?
As you have seen from the above conditions, a general migrant’s application may be denied if they are a previous overstayer. Further this is a general ground for refusal of leave to enter or remain in the UK. If you overstay your authorised period of leave, you may therefore jeopardise your ability to apply for an extension or apply for a further period of stay in the UK in future.
Other general grounds for refusal include:
- The applicant is currently subject to a deportation order
- The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years
- The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of 1 to 4 years, unless a period of 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence
- The applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced for a period of up to 12 months, unless a period of 5 years have passed since the end of the sentence
If you are unsure about immigration applications to the UK and would like further assistance, you can obtain free advice from your local . Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)You can also obtain more detailed immigration advice from an immigration specialist. All immigration advisors must be registered with the Office of Immigration Commissioner (OISC) unless they are an exempt organisation such as CAB. OISC can be contacted on: 0845 000 0046 firstname.lastname@example.org