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I am a US citizen, currently living in the UK on a tier 4 visa. When it expires (March) I want to leave & then re-enter UK as a Tourist for a period of less than six months, to visit family and go to some weddings of friends that I have made here. I understand that as a US citizen I don't need a visa for this purpose, but my question is whether I have to go back to the US to re-enter, or whether instead I can travel to somewhere closer (e.g. France) before re-entering as a tourist?

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    I don't know anything specific but my suspicion would be that, after legally living in the UK long-term, if you leave and try to come straight back in, the immigration officer will think you're trying to continue your long-term residence illegally. – David Richerby Feb 5 at 11:01
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    @user91748 Tier 4 rules (section 103) provide for a stay of between 2 and 6 months after the course ends, depending on the total course length assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/… – Traveller Feb 5 at 11:40
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    @Traveller Nice find. Does that stay cover leaving and reentering or only period of continuous stay after graduation? – cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer Feb 5 at 12:04
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    @Traveller But if OP doesn't already have that additional leave, there's no provision to extend. – MJeffryes Feb 5 at 12:22
  • @Honorary World Citizen I can’t find a Rule on this, although other sources indicate reentry must be to continue studies ukcisa.org.uk/Information--Advice/Visas-and-Immigration/… The OP will need to leave by the date on their Residence Permit; assuming the additional time allowed after the course ends is already factored in to the March date mentioned by the OP, they have no option. I agree with your answer, reentry could be risky especially if the OP will have stayed the additional time by March. The question might be better on Expatriates – Traveller Feb 5 at 12:25
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My question is whether I have to go back to the US to re-enter, or whether instead I can travel to somewhere closer (e.g. France) before re-entering as a tourist?

Nothing in the immigration rules preclude what you’re planning to do. Several people have returned to the UK after a brief trip to adjoining countries. That said a visitor in addition to demonstrating ties to their place of residence must show

Genuine intention to visit

V 4.2 The applicant must satisfy the decision maker that they are a genuine visitor. This means that the applicant:

(a) will leave the UK at the end of their visit; and

(b) will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home; and

(c) is genuinely seeking entry for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes (these are listed in Appendices 3, 4 and 5); and

(d) will not undertake any prohibited activities set out in V 4.5 – V 4.10; and

(e) must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment.

In your case your reason for reentry so soon has to be tailored to satisfy this because unless you’re coming for something very important and time dependent (e.g. wedding of close friends), the question would be why didn’t you undertake those activities while you were a student? Visiting family for example could reasonably have been undertaken during breaks from school.

Going back to the USA for a very brief period and then seeking to reenter will be of very marginal value. The best cure for your situation is going back home (USA) for an extended period and thus demonstrate ties to a location other than UK.

  • @user91748 Even for those nationals eligible for visa-free entry the Gov.uk advice is to bring the same documents you’d use to apply for a visa with you, in case you’re asked by an Immigration Officer to prove you are a genuine visitor (ie that you meet the Rules quoted in the answer above). – Traveller Feb 5 at 12:30

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