What Can Happen If I Overstay on My Student Visa?

It’s important to know the exact restrictions on your visa when you enter the UK, so you don’t end up breaking any rules accidentally. Overstaying your visa can be a serious problem resulting in fines, imprisonment or deportation in some cases, so you should make the appropriate plans to leave the UK as soon as you’re able, to ensure you don’t overstay your visa in the UK.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about Student visas in the UK, including what happens if you overstay, so you don’t accidentally break any immigration rules.

UK Student Visas: What You Need to Know

UK Student Visas: What You Need to Know

When applying for a Student visa in the UK, you need to submit several documents, pay the relevant fees and sometimes attend an interview to be awarded your Student visa. If successful, you’ll be given your visa in your passport, with the date that you need to leave by, as well as details of what you can and can’t do while in the UK on your visa.

Getting a Student Visa

When you first apply for a Student visa in the UK, you’ll need to have a letter from a British university or institute offering you a place on their course. This is the Student visa sponsor. Not every course or educational institution can sponsor foreign nationals, so make sure your course offer is from an approved establishment.

You should submit this offer letter, known as a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), with your other documentation when you apply for a UK Student visa. Other necessary documents include:

  • Your passport or other travel document
  • Evidence you have sufficient finances or sponsorship for your course and living costs
  • Evidence that you can read, write and speak English
  • A negative tuberculosis test if you are coming from one of the listed countries
  • Consent from your parents if you’re under 18, and proof of your relationship

You may be asked for additional documents depending on your specific circumstances.

You must complete the application online, and pay the application fee of £490 as well as the immigration health surcharge (IHS) to permit you use of the National Health Service (NHS) while you’re in the UK. The cost of the IHS for students will depend on the length of your course.

Evidence of sufficient finances can include:

  • Bank statements
  • Letters from your loan provider detailing how much money you will have access to
  • Sponsorship letters detailing the extent of your funds

It can take up to 3 weeks to receive a response on your visa application from the Home Office, and it may be refused if you have not provided sufficient documents or there is incorrect information on your application. You will receive a letter explaining the decision if your application has been rejected.

Sufficient Finances for Your Visa Application

Living costs in the UK can be expensive, so you will need to have plenty of funds to cover your daily expenses, accommodation and course fees.

For your visa to be approved, you’ll need:

  • £1,334 per month for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month for courses outside London

If you are providing bank statements, you will need to have this money in your account for at least 28 days before your visa application.

Working on a Student Visa

Working on a Student Visa

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Having enough money to cover your living costs while studying in the UK can be difficult, so it may be beneficial, both for your finances and your future career prospects to work while you study in the UK.

Students who are studying below degree level, may not work more than 10 hours per week during term time, but can work full-time according to the restrictions for their age outside of term time. Students who are studying at degree level and above cannot work more than 20 hours a week during term time, but can work full-time, up to 48 hours a week in official course breaks, including once their course has finished until their visa expires. There are further restrictions on what work students can and cannot engage in.

Travelling on a Student Visa

Foreign nationals who are studying in the UK may travel for work or leisure outside of term time. However, they cannot travel within their course dates as they need to show that they are committed to their learning.

When travelling outside the UK, it’s the nationality, i.e. the country of the passport, that is the deciding factor on which countries a student can enter. For example, you can visit Ireland without needing a visa if you are from an EU or EEA country, but will otherwise need a Short Stay visa for the country.

Overstaying a Student Visa in the UK

Overstaying a Student Visa in the UK

When you enter the UK on a Student visa, you will be given a date by which you need to leave. In some cases, you may switch from a Student visa to a Work visa or a Family visa, but you must apply for your intended visa before your Student visa expires to avoid overstaying.

If you overstay, you may be liable for a fine, detention or deportation.

Usually, if you leave within 30 days of your visa expiring, you will not face any issues. However, after 30 days, you may be detained and deported. This will also harm any future applications to return to the UK, and you may be banned from re-entering the UK for 1 to 10 years, depending on how long you overstay and how you leave.

If you overstay your visa because you are unable to afford an onward journey from the UK, the government may be able to pay for your flights and any necessary documents for you. If you overstay for more than 30 days and the government is arranging for you to leave the country, you will not be immediately deported. You will have to report to a reporting centre once every 2 to 4 weeks, and will be detained when arrangements have been made for you to leave the country, or if they consider you may escape deportation.

Being taken into detention can happen at any time, so you should keep all of your important documents, travel documents and immigration letters with you at all times. If you are a vulnerable person, i.e. you are pregnant or have mental or physical health problems, you may not be detained, and should alert the authorities if you are.

In the detention centre, you will still have visitation and other rights which you will be informed of in your native language.

Switching Your Student Visa to a Work Visa

Switching Your Student Visa to a Work Visa

Before your Student visa expires, you can apply to switch to a Skilled Worker visa, previously known as a Tier 2 visa to continue living and working in the UK. However, for the Skilled Worker visa, you need to apply for a job on the list of eligible jobs, which can change, and have a job offer from a valid UK sponsor.

Finding the right work and a sponsor can take time, so rather than starting an intense job search immediately after you graduate, you may benefit from applying for a Graduate visa instead. This permits some students to live and work in the UK for up to 12 months after they graduate and is a useful extension to their time in the UK if they wish to remain in the country to live and work.

New UK Visa Rules

While the UK government of 2023 hasn’t shown itself as very stable, it has shown itself as tough on immigration, so Home Secretary James Cleverly announced new visa rules for students and skilled workers to come into effect in 2024.

As of 2024, only students studying a research-based postgraduate degree i.e. a PhD can bring their dependents to the UK with them, and skilled workers must have a higher minimum salary for their proposed work than in previous years, although the new figure has changed due to heavy backlash after the initial announcement.

Need Visa Support? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

Visa applications are tough, especially when the rules keep changing and the restrictions become unclear. Fortunately, Synergy Immigrations Solutions is here to help! Contact us for more information.

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