One of the most important rules for migrants residing in the UK is to never become an overstayer, as to do so may have severe consequences on their ability to remain in or return to the UK. In order to avoid becoming an overstayer migrants must ensure that, prior to the expiry of their visa, they either depart the UK or to submit a valid application for Leave to Remain to the UK Home Office.
Up until recently, the Home Office provided some leeway for migrants who only had a brief period of overstaying, which is often referred to as the “28 day grace period”. This provision allowed migrants to lodge a valid application for Leave to Remain within 28 days of their previous Leave to Remain expiring and also meant that previous periods of overstaying, which did not exceed 28 days, would not prevent a successful Indefinite Leave to Remain application.
As of the end of November 2016, however, the 28 day grace period has been abolished by the Home Office and replaced by a more restrictive 14-day rule. The new Rule, brought into force on 24 November 2016, does allow for migrants to make a valid application within 14 days of their previous visa expiring, but it is no longer an automatic right – it is now only possible to make use of the 14 day period if the applicant or their representative can provide “good reason beyond the control of the applicant/representative” as to why the application could not be made in time.
The rules differ slightly for those who submitted an in-time application which was subsequently refused, and for those who have held Leave to Remain under sections 3C and 3D of the Immigration Act 1971 – i.e. those holding Leave to Remain on the basis of holding a right to appeal a refused application or to apply for Administrative Review or having an appeal/Administrative Review application pending. In these circumstances, a valid application can be made within 14 days of the refusal of the application in question or of the expiry of Leave to Remain under sections 3C or 3D without any further conditions being attached to this right.
Given the restrictions of the new 14-day rule, it is now more important than ever for UK migrants to ensure that they do not become and overstayer.