The UK Government quietly changed the rules on immigration re-entry bans on 6th April 2017. If you are an overstayer after 6th April 2017, you may be left with as little as 30 days to leave the UK or face a 12-month ban from returning to the country.
Because of the change, the best immigration solicitors are urging migrants whose visas are due to expire, to seek legal advice as soon as possible so that they are fully informed about the options
Re-entry ban rules prior to 6th April 2017
The relevant section of the Immigration Rules is Part 9, 7B, which reads:
(Grounds on which entry clearance or leave to enter the United Kingdom is to be refused)
(7B) where the applicant has previously breached the UK’s immigration laws (and was 18 or over at the time of his most recent breach by:
- 1. (a) Overstaying;
- 2. (b) breaching a condition attached to his leave;
- 3. (c) being an Illegal Entrant;
- 4. (d) using Deception in an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain, or in order to obtain documents from the Secretary of State or a third party required in support of the application (whether successful or not);
- 1. unless the applicant:
- 1. (i) overstayed for-
- 1. (a) 90 days or less, where the overstaying began before 6 April 2017: or
- 2. (b) 30 days or less, where the overstaying began on or after 6 April 2017
- 3. and in either case, left the UK voluntarily, not at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State;
- 1. (i) overstayed for-
- 2. (ii) used Deception in an application for entry clearance more than 10 years ago;
- 3. (iii) left the UK voluntarily, not at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State, more than 12 months ago;
- 4. (iv) left the UK voluntarily, at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State, more than 2 years ago; and the date the person left the UK was no more than 6 months after the date on which the person was given notice of liability for removal, or no more than 6 months after the date on which the person no longer had a pending appeal or administrative review; whichever is the later;
- 5. (v) left the UK voluntarily, at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State, more than 5 years ago;
- 6. (vi) was removed or deported from the UK more than 10 years ago or;
- 7. (vii) left or was removed from the UK as a condition of a caution issued in accordance with section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 more than 5 years ago.
Prior to 6th April 2017, the Home Office would usually disregard incidences where a person had overstayed for 90 days or less after their visa had expired. If the overstayer left the country at their own expense within 90 days, the fact that they had overstayed their visa should not be held against them in further immigration applications. It is important to remember that the overstaying would not apply only if the overstayer leaves the country at their own expense.
The new rules on re-entry bans
If a non-EEA migrant overstays after the 6th April 2017, they are likely to only have 30 days to leave the country voluntarily, at their own expense, or risk receiving a re-entry ban. immigration solicitor, Maryem Ahmed, is often asked by clients how long a re-entry ban lasts. “In cases of overstaying, you can be refused re-entry for 12 months”, she states. “This can have a devastating effect on people who have homes, jobs, family and/or pets.”
The ban period will commence from the date the person left the UK unless deception was used in an entry clearance application, in which case it will start on the date that the application was refused. The best immigration lawyers advise that if a person wishes to apply to come back to the UK after the ban period has ended, they should ensure they keep original evidence of their departure from the UK, such as hotel and flight confirmations or entry stamps in their passport to show arrival in another country.
There are circumstances in which the 12-month re-entry ban will not apply. For example, if the overstayer is the spouse of a British national.
What should I do if my visa has expired?
Maryem advises the most important action a migrant can take to avoid being subject to a re-entry ban is to not leave their visa renewal too late. “I would advise clients to not leave immigration matters to the last minute. As an immigration solicitor, it is impossible to predict if or when the Home Office will refuse an application for a visa renewal. Therefore, we need time to not only make the initial application but act if the submission is refused. Visa applications can also take longer than expected, especially if a lot of supporting documents need to be collated. By instructing an immigration lawyer three months in advance of their visa expiring, applicants will have given themselves a solid buffer period so any unexpected Home office decisions can be dealt with before they become an overstayer”.
The changes to the re-entry ban rules have been introduced quietly, meaning many UK visa holders will be unaware that the 90-day grace period has been slashed by a whopping two-thirds. It is imperative that migrants whose visas are coming up to their expiry date, contact an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible to ensure they do not suddenly receive a surprise 12-month re-entry ban by unknowingly overstaying.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. Our immigration team dealing with visa renewals comprises of Smit Kumar, Hans Sok Appadu, and Maryem Ahmed, all of whom would be happy to discuss your situation with you.
By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 020 7936 9960 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Thursday, 18 May, 2017