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Are you expected to leave immediately if you have already been existing in the country for a few years? Do you have some time allowance for when you're expected to make your way out? If you realize that you've overstayed and would like to do the right thing, what is the time frame that you're expected to act in?

I am in the UK.

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    How could you not realise you are overstaying by several years? A few days, maybe but not years – Xnero Jul 3 at 21:04
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    Ignorance of the law is not a valid defence. In your case, you overstayed by years after entering the UK via an unlawful means after a visa rejection - thats not “forgetting”, that would be seen as wilful. – Moo Jul 4 at 0:48
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    I agree you should leave as soon as possible but before leaving you need to wrap up your life in the UK on the assumption you will not be back there for years, if ever. For example, sell any property you do not plan to take with you. See UK visa refusal, seeking temporary entry to collect personal items for some problems due to leaving without doing so, and then being denied entry. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 4 at 3:14
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    @Joseph P. How does it ‘slip your mind’ that you’re living in a country where you have no right to live? You have overstayed way over any theoretical grace period. Take Patricia Shanahan’s advice: wrap up your life in the UK and leave ASAP, before you come to the attention of UK Immigration authorities. – Traveller Jul 4 at 10:32
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    They aren't going to believe you didn't know about the time limitation, because they stamped it right into your passport. – Michael Hampton Jul 4 at 13:55
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You were refused entry and had your passport stamped accordingly. You then entered Britain via Ireland, without encountering UK immigration. Immediately, your status is suspect, but after three years there is no question: you are in Britain illegally. There is no way you could not have known this, and nobody in the UK authorities will believe it is a mistake.

If you come to the attention of UK Immigration now they'll probably have you on a plane so fast your feet won't touch the ground. Alternatively, they'll put you in an immigration detention centre until they can put you on a plane. That's not an experience you will enjoy.

You should, therefore, arrange to leave the UK as soon as possible. Since your departure will be notified to UK Immigration by the airline you can assume that your illegal presence will be on record and you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to return. You should arrange your affairs in the UK accordingly.

(Thanks to various contributors whose comments were used to compile this answer)

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    This pretty much echoes my answer on travel.stackexchange.com/questions/157703/… - I am not complaining, because its obvious that the OP is not getting the picture and needs to be told it time and again, so upvote for this answer! The OP needs to understand that they are an illegal immigrant and will be dealt with as such. – Moo Jul 4 at 23:01
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    If they went back from Ireland via the Common Travel Area, would it still be reported to immigration? – Obie 2.0 Jul 5 at 17:29
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    @Obie2.0 yes, and Ireland would be upset as well, as they’ve overstayed their Irish entry conditions. – Moo Jul 5 at 20:59
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    @josephP Don't confuse a ban (where a visa application or entry to the UK is automatically refused without being considered) with refusals. You have shown yourself to be willing to flout the rules. You will have to work much harder now to overcome the suspicion that you will do so again. – Arthur's Pass Jul 7 at 21:24
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    @Joseph P. To add to the comment by Arthur’s Pass about bans vs refusals, one of the grounds for discretionary refusal of entry is “contriving to frustrate the Immigration Rules” assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/… You entered the UK via Ireland after being denied entry. That sounds very much like ‘contriving’ to me. – Traveller Jul 8 at 7:50

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