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Someone from America is a tourist/visitor here who has overstayed their 6 month 'leave to enter'. In order to avoid getting caught, they are relying upon the fact that the UK does only random, sporadic exit checks on departing passengers. In the absence of an exit check, there is no exact record of when the person left and so overstaying cannot be detected.

Is this likely to change in the the near future? Will tourists leaving the UK be uniformly subjected to immigration control to assure (among other things) that they have not overstayed? If so, when should an overstayer leave by so as not to get caught after activation?

  • Isn't the plan to do the exit checks electronically, rather than in-person? – Gagravarr Feb 24 '15 at 16:29
  • @Gagravarr, if the answer to this question is yes, then it would be hybrid with the juxtaposed controls possibly being manual. Airport controls would most likely be electronic, but for sure not by Raytheon :) – Gayot Fow Feb 24 '15 at 16:44
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    The final question is easy: leave now. That hypothetical person is already breaking the law. If he gets caught, then the penalties have been earned. If not, then he is lucky. – CGCampbell Feb 24 '15 at 20:42
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Final Update 10 April 2015

The government published their Exit checks fact sheet

Update 17 March 2015

The Home Secretary confirmed before Parliament earlier today that exit checks would begin 8 April 2015...

...but hints at a possible exception for people travelling by coach


Yes. The UK Border Force has been under pressure to implement exit checks for a long time, and have publicly targeted April 2015 as the start date...

The Home Office is working closely with key partners on the implementation of Exit Checks in April 2015. We have looked closely at the best ways to implement Exit Checks for the various ports and operators, working with the grain of their operations as far as possible. Ongoing consultations are helping to ensure that Exit Checks meet the government’s objectives with the least possible impact on travellers. Barry McGill, Director of Exit Checks said: "We have made significant progress on planned solutions with carriers and port operators. The programme is building on this engagement to ensure that the technical delivery arrangements meet everyone’s needs".

Source: January Partner Bulletin

An earlier attempt to implement exit controls resulted in an embarrassing fiasco from which the Border Force hopes to recover public confidence. For this reason it's safe to assume they will be looking for a few scalps to show the media.

If you are visiting the UK as a tourist or business visitor and think that you have overstayed and thus be vulnerable to being caught at an exit check, you can contact the Border Force to determine if your circumstances were unavoidable. Alternatively, you can contact a solicitor to arrange a consultation.

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