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My visa expires tonight. I initially thought that I could overstay and leave as I planned (tickets bought) on the 21st of August from London to Canada (my home country).

Then I read online that becoming an overstayer could make me ineligible for visas for a year. That wouldn’t work: I’m supposed to be a postdoc at KCL for the next two years (I need to apply for the visa from Canada) and to teach from October.

So I took the first night bus to Paris. (I know, I should have planned this.) I would like to come back to the UK as a visitor for the next couple of weeks before flying back to Canada. Is this possible? I could prove to the border officers that I have a ticket to go back home. I want to avoid at all cost being on a blacklist that would make it hard for me to secure a visa for next year.

TLDR; I’m not an overstayer, my visa is expired, I am Canadian, I would like to go back to the UK for two weeks (not to work or study). Can I?

What do you think? Do you have relevant experience?

All best, Simon

  • What reason for returning will you give the Immigration Officer at the border? – Traveller Aug 4 at 21:48
  • I’m not sure what I should say. I could say I’m returning to pick up my stuff before leaving to Canada (which is true to some extent, although I want to keep some stuff there for when I get a new visa). I don’t know whether I should mention my partner? (We have lived together for five years.) I guess I could also say that I come to submit a paper version of my thesis to the library. (That would be true: I successfully defended a month ago.) – MonPireSire Aug 4 at 22:14
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No one can accurately predict what will happen during your landing interview. You’re potentially a bigger flight risk because you've clearly built up a life in the UK; on the other hand what you are proposing is not against UK Immigration Rules https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor-rules and your citizenship is probably a point in your favour.

In comments you gave some possible reasons for your wish to return. Having a legitimate premise to show you are a genuine visitor and being able to articulate it convincingly is important. Presumably you can prove sufficient funds and will stay with your partner, so your accommodation is sorted, and you already have your flight back to Canada booked.

The usual advice in these situations is ‘if in doubt, get a visa’. Clearly this isn’t possible in your case since your planned return date to Canada is so close. Overall, although there’s always a risk that you could be denied entry, it is probably a small one. The 100% safe choice given your postdoc plan would be to fly home to Canada from France.

  • Thanks so much for your quick and sensible answer. One update and two follow up questions: in the end I didn’t make it to the border in time and crossed at 00:12. Do you think this makes a difference? Also, do you think that buying a London–Paris flight on the morning of the 22nd to catch my other flight is a good plan or is it still risky in your opinion? – MonPireSire Aug 5 at 0:56
  • @MonPireSire I think that strictly speaking by crossing the border after midnight on the date of your visa expiry you technically overstayed. Did you get a stamp? Any comment from border officers? – Traveller Aug 5 at 8:19
  • I got a stamp from the French on the 5th rather than the 4th. The UK officer scanned our passports on the bus, didn’t say anything to me... (He came in the bus and did the whole thing quickly; I didn’t feel comfortable asking questions.) I also received an email from my Uni’s Visa office saying I should be able to come back and ask to enter as a visitor, possibly by even only using the machines (Canadians now can scan like Europeans). He also said 12 minutes should not matter. If I try my luck, I’ll use the train: there are scanners there and the control check precedes the journey. – MonPireSire Aug 5 at 15:11
  • @MonPireSire I’d go with that advice. Good luck :-) – Traveller Aug 5 at 15:19
  • @MonPireSire: Out of curiosity, at which time did the UK border officer scan your passport? – mdd Aug 12 at 21:00
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After a week in Paris, I came to the UK via the EuroStar. As a Canadian citizen, the passport machine let me in. No questions asked. Phew!

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