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I am an Australian citizen coming to the end of a 2-year working holiday visa for the UK. I would like to come back to the UK for three months to travel after my visa expires.

Can I leave the UK for the weekend (on the day it expires) and come back to get a tourist visa on arrival for six months?

If so, would I be able to use the Eurostar and stay in Paris for the night and come back the following day?

Does your passport get stamped using this method of travel?

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The problem you'll face

Basically, it can be very tricky and sometimes disallowed, as several friends have found out unexpectedly in the past few years.

Let's take one example. He finished, left to Israel for a wedding, and flew back to spend a week in the UK, figured he'd enter on tourist visa (Kiwi, but also on working holiday visa). 7 hours later....he was told he had 2 days' special dispensation and not to come back any time soon.

So essentially, they told him that when you're in the UK on a Working Holiday - you have 2 years to have a 'Working HOLIDAY'. So the logic is you've had 2 years to see as much as you could want to see. There's no reason to come back in again on a tourist visa unless you're just trying to sneaky come back in to work under the table.

Which you and I know isn't always the case - we work until the end of our trip, have savings and now want to blow them on travel!! Sigh.

He eventually went up the chain 3 supervisors, each one wanting to deport him and blacklist his passport(!), until finally they gave him the dispensation.

I've had two others with similar but not as scary stories. Another had his work visa expire (he'd forgotten the date) so asked if he could just enter on tourist visa instead, and he was deported immediately back to Australia, with a black mark on his record for life as well.

Going to France will get your passport stamped, and at the very least, recorded on the computer, they know you're exiting and entering, but that's not the problem.

Now, presumably a lot of their problems stemmed from their lack of evidence they were going elsewhere. The first guy didn't have a flight, he had a planned trip to ride a motorcycle from London to Mongolia with me. So he couldn't really 'prove' he wasn't going back to work, aside from ringing up the company and getting them to say it.

The banned one didn't have a flight as he was fully intending on coming into the UK to work, he just thought his visa was valid.

The way to do it right

As visafirst explains:

Basically there is no fixed period that must be spent outside but I would advise you to spend at least one day outside of the UK and enter back once your working holiday visa has already expired on a visitor’s permit. The time that you will be allowed to spend in the UK without a visa depends on the passport you hold.

This is fairly sound advice, but misses the questions you'll raise returning. So any evidence you have that you resigned, have packed up, a final utility bill, and ideally your flight home as documentation, that would be good to have with you. But legally, as long as you can satisfy them you're not being an illegal weasel, then yes, you're totally fine doing what you're describing. Just expect some questions, and be prepared.

  • Thanks. So, a bit more info. I have a British girlfriend, and the plan is to leave the country for a few days when my visa expires, and then come back and stay with her for 3 months without working. We also plan on taking a 10 day holiday to malta in this time, before both heading to Australia. Should I say I am staying with my girlfriend, or say hostels to avoid any questions that I will be staying for a relationship and not a tourist? Secondly, would it be advisable to take another trip whilst I'm in the UK on a tourist visa through the fear of not being let back in after that trip? Thanks – Martin Mar 13 '15 at 8:17
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    That's a whole different question (1 question per post), and I'm personally not sure. From my experience though, even when it sucks, it's always best to tell the truth. – Mark Mayo Mar 13 '15 at 8:54

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