If I leave the UK voluntarily, can I return in less than 10 years? I had a 12-month conviction, reduced to 11 months, for harassment of my former partner (nothing serious, for making a nuisance of myself). I had indefinite leave to remain. I'm appealing deportation at the moment (to the US). Would it be better to leave voluntarily? Would that be better than waiting for the end of the process and actually being deported? Would it avoid invoking the ban?
I am not an expert in UK law. You definitely need to consult a lawyer to confirm that what I have written below is relevant to your particular case.
According to the UK Immigration rules, a criminal conviction and imprisonment makes one ineligible to enter the UK in the future, in and of itself:
Grounds on which entry clearance or leave to enter the United Kingdom is to be refused
(2) the fact that the person seeking entry to the United Kingdom:
(a) is currently the subject of a deportation order; or
(b) has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years; or
(c) has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 12 months but less than 4 years, unless a period of 10 years has passed since the end of the sentence; or
(d) has been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than 12 months, unless a period of 5 years has passed since the end of the sentence.
Where this paragraph applies, unless refusal would be contrary to the Human Rights Convention or the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, it will only be in exceptional circumstances that the public interest in maintaining refusal will be outweighed by compelling factors.
I'm not sure whether a reduced sentence would be treated under the original length or the reduced length under these regulations (as it might result in a different length of ban.) However, it appears that pretty much anyone who serves a prison sentence is then subject to a UK entry ban of some length, even if they are not the subject of a deportation order at the time.