Can you leave the country while your visa application is pending?


Can you leave the country while your visa application is pending

Sometimes clients ask us if they could travel outside the UK after submitting the application while waiting for the decision.

This is actually a question that many applicants are confused about. With the introduction of the UKVCAS system in November 2018, you no longer need to submit your passport when making an application from inside the UK. Inevitably everyone has travel plans, especially for those whose applications may take up to 6 months to get a decision.

Under the Immigration Rules Part 1 paragraph 34K, “Where a decision on an application for permission to stay has not been made and the applicant travels outside the common travel area their application will be treated as withdrawn on the date the applicant left the common travel area.”

So, what will happen if you leave the UK before getting a decision on the application, and results in the application being withdrawn? This can be divided into the following two situations.

The first scenario is you made an in-time application with a valid visa, but the previous visa expires before you leave the UK.

In this instance, your visa status is automatically converted to 3C leave (a status that allows you to legally stay in the UK while waiting for the visa processing). Section 3C leave will end once you leave the UK.

In this case, you may not be able to return to the UK and may need to apply for a new visa from outside the UK. For Skilled Work visa and some family visa holders, this may mean the break of continuous residence.

The second situation is you made an in-time application with a valid visa, and the visa is still valid when leaving the UK. You can return to the UK to resubmit the visa application before the visa expiry date.

If an application is withdrawn, you can receive a refund of the IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge), but the visa application fee may not be refunded.

If you booked an appointment at the visa application center but have not yet gone, you can cancel it online and the fee will be refunded.

However, there is one exception to the above – applications for naturalisation. You can travel out of the UK before getting the approval for the application.

Except for naturalisation applications, we strongly advise that applicants should not leave the UK after submitting the application.

If you have any questions to the above article, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our consultant.

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