I am a US citizen and have been working in the UK on a Tier 2 visa for a number of years. My contract with my employer has the same end date as my residence permit's "valid until" date. As the expiry date approached my employer offered to extend my contract and sponsor a visa extension. I preferred to look for a more permanent job and ended up finding one back in the US. The new job will start in a few months, but I don't yet have a formal offer or contract with them.

My situation is difficult in that I have to be in the UK to work my last day but then have to be gone by midnight when my leave to remain expires. In particular, I won't have time to arrange movers to take my things back to the US and clear out things I've stored here. I would like to be able to have a little extra time to "wrap up".

My plan is to take a trip to Europe on my last day of work (same as last day of visa) and then return to the UK a few days later and enter as a visitor in order to wrap up everything and move my stuff out.

As far as I can interpret the rules, this is a perfectly allowable purpose for entering as a visitor. My concern is how I give evidence of this to convince the border officer.

I think from the officer's perspective my situation "doesn't look good":

  • have lived in the UK for years
  • do not yet have a permanent accommodation back in the US
  • only have an informal job offer from US and may not get official offer by the time I try to enter the UK as a visitor

Does anyone have advice on what kind of evidence I could provide that I am indeed entering the UK for legitimate purposes (to arrange movers and spend time with friends while I work out other specifics of my permanent relocation back to the US)? I have no intention of staying in the UK to look for work or other way to live here.

UPDATE: Thank you to all who commented and answered. I ended up booking a consultation with an immigration lawyer. I was told that there was virtually nothing to worry about. First, as a US citizen I would use the e-gates and in all likelihood would pass right through and never speak to a human at all. Second, if redirected to a border agent the key/only thing is to show you have a genuine intention to leave the country. The lawyer thought a booked plane ticket back to the US and the email from my future employer would be enough to show that. I therefore accepted JonathanReez's answer as it mirrors that advice.

Unfortunately I never got to actually test the advice. The lawyer also pointed out that I was eligible for ILR so I went that route instead and now (hopefully) don't have to worry about UK visas again.

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    Don’t you have any accrued holiday leave that you could use while you remain employed to wrap up your affairs? Most employers typically would accommodate your need to organise your affairs.
    – Traveller
    Jul 28, 2022 at 19:59
  • Yes, because I had planned to extend my current contract when the new job in the US came through at the last minute. Even so, I feel there is not enough time for me to wrap up my affairs and I also shouldn't disappear from work for the final couple of weeks when they are expecting me to be there (there are things to wrap up at work too). I think my purposes for re-entering are consistent with being a "Standard Visitor", I just don't know how to give evidence of that.
    – Sam
    Jul 28, 2022 at 21:47
  • That is because by your own admission you don’t have any compelling evidence of your intention to leave to offer. It’s clear as daylight you’re just planning a visa run simply to be able to spend more time in the UK. As a US citizen able to use the eGates you could get away with it, but equally you could get stopped, questioned and possibly denied entry.
    – Traveller
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:05
  • Right, "spending more time in the UK" to wrap up is why I'd be going in. But are you saying that re-entering for this purpose goes against the permitted activities or reasons for a visitor entry? In light of your comment I suppose I should be asking two questions: (1) ought my entry be granted if the officer were omniscient (i.e. do I have a legitimate reason to re-enter the UK)? and (2) if so, what "compelling evidence" could I show that would demonstrate that?
    – Sam
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:23
  • I meant you just don’t want to leave by the date you are supposed to. To return as a visitor it’s much more important to be able to show compelling evidence of your intention to leave, than of your reason to return. Based on what you’ve written, you can’t do that.
    – Traveller
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


What you've described seems completely fine for the following reasons:

  1. You're not planning to overstay your original visa
  2. You come from a developed country on par with the UK and thus have very little incentive to break the law by working illegally
  3. You have a clear plan on when you will go back to the US
  4. Your plan doesn't involve anything banned by the immigration rules for tourists

Does anyone have advice on what kind of evidence I could provide that I am indeed entering the UK for legitimate purposes (to arrange movers and spend time with friends while I work out other specifics of my permanent relocation back to the US)?

Bring a copy of the email confirming you've arranged things with an international moving company (if possible), a flight ticket to the US, an email confirming your informal job offer. If you've already signed a lease in the US, bring that as well. Most likely you won't have to show any of these documents but it would help in case you see a grumpy officer.

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    A confirmed flight isn’t 100% solid proof, many airlines offer very flexible terms on re-bookings/cancellations. IMHO FWIW, the only solid evidence would be an official job offer and a permanent address in the US. Even better, go to the US for a few weeks as a visa run rather than Europe, organise some solid proof then return to the UK to ‘wrap up’. Without a place to live in the US, the OP’s home appears to be the UK
    – Traveller
    Jul 29, 2022 at 16:27
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    @Traveller, I still have a (very small) apartment in London that I managed to hang onto after a stint working there which I visit fairly frequently to maintain and for vacations. I also still have a UK bank account and cards to pay bills. Yet, while I've freely told the IO where I'll be staying when entering when asked I have never, ever been asked if I lived or worked elsewhere, let alone to prove it. It is (clearly) still legal for foreign visitors to own property in the UK. If you need to enter to dispose of your property, what status other than visitor is available to do that?
    – user38879
    Jul 29, 2022 at 20:31
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    @Dennis A controversial view possibly, but just possibly the answer is ‘arrange disposal of your property before your work visa expires - after all, it’s not as if the expiry date is unknown from the start and comes as a sudden surprise.
    – Traveller
    Jul 30, 2022 at 13:26
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    @Dennis Your comment implies you left the UK and took up residence elsewhere. Very different to exiting after residency and doing a brief visa run to then return as a visitor with no ties to anywhere else orher than citizenship. Probably irrelevant but I suspect the US would not look favourably on such a scenario either. A controversial view possibly, but just maybe the answer is ‘arrange disposal of your property before your work visa expires - after all, it’s not as if the expiry date is unknown from the start and comes as a sudden surprise.
    – Traveller
    Jul 30, 2022 at 13:33
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    @Traveller, the US practice is to admit working visa holders for 10 grace period days beyond the expiry of their work authorization to allow them time to wind up their affairs. That the UK apparently requires a worker to leave by midnight on a day when the worker might be contractually obligated to work until 5 PM is what is making me think that UK immigration may find it entirely ordinary that some fraction of those workers will want to return as a visitor to complete their move out.
    – user38879
    Jul 31, 2022 at 2:52

I agree it wouldn’t look good. I don’t know the legal specifics, but unless you get an official source that 100% confirms that it isn’t a problem, I’d just avoid the hassle altogether.

If the company is not willing to give you a few days off near the end, then I’d suggest to move out the weekend before the last work week, live out of a suitcase for the last week and just leave without any problems.


In reality, no one can answer this question definitively as the final decision depends on the appreciation of the immigration officer (or if you get lucky with he e-gates).

However, in my opinion, you do not qualify for the visitor status.

Your main residence is in the UK, making the UK you main home is explicitly against the visitor rules.

You are also not undertaking any activity that fulfills the genuine visitor requirement.

Visitor immigration rules: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor

Permitted activities for visitors: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-permitted-activities

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