Monday, 19 February 2018
How long can a visitor stay in the UK? 6 months... but how is it calculated? 6 months in a year or from each entry?
This has been one of the most commonly asked question during our 10 years of practice, so this is an updated post. If you saw our old post from 2013, saying “6 months in each year” rule, it is now out of date and the current guidance is very different.
So, the updated rule on the date of this post (February 2018) is that 6 months stay starts from the date of each entry in the UK, ie from the airport stamp. You can come and go, and every time you come back “your” 6 months start again. If you aren’t required to have a visa stamp before travelling, you would get a stamp on arrival at the airport.
If you are a visa national (ie need to have a visa stamp before coming to the UK), your visitor visa has to be long enough, such as for 2, 5 or even 10 years. If your visa stamp is only for 6 months and you entered, say, 1 month after it was issued, you’d have only 5 months left to stay in the UK and you can actually extend your visa to give you that extra 1 month (will be expensive but doable).
Does it mean you can go to France for 1 day and come back and start 6 months again? Yes, in principle, but it would not be that simple. You can come and go and start 6 months every time but there is a rule saying it must not result in de-facto residency in the UK. In other words, with al this flexibility you can’t use a visitor visa to live in the UK. How is it determined? By a border control officer in each case individually. If you have many arrival stamps, you may be asked a question, if not this time but next time or time after that. The more you come and go the more it may look like you may be living here. It will be up to you to convince a visa officer that you are just visit and your main home remains abroad.
Does it help having a property in the UK? There is nothing stopping a visitor from buying a property here, there is no obligation to reside there and it does not make you a resident. It is up to an individual, s long as you don’t become a de facto resident on a visitor visa in the eyes of the visa officers.
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