Overstaying a visa in any country is a serious offence; being out of status on a visa means that technically the offender is an illegal immigrant. In the UK, illegal immigrants face hefty penalties concerning re-entry. The banishment periods for visa overstayers range from one to ten years, with steep fines and possible imprisonment for the UK citizens sponsoring the overstayers.
Overstay Grace Period
Overstayers of any visa type escape banishment penalties if they leave the UK within 28 days after their visa expires. Unlike in the US where even one day after the I-94 expiration date results in revocation of the visa and possible fines, there is a 28-day grace period for offenders.
If an alien remains in the UK on an expired visa for more than 28 days, banishment penalties will accrue. Individuals who leave the UK at their own expense--voluntarily leave--face a one-year ban from re-entering the UK. Individuals who voluntarily "give themselves up" but must leave at the expense of the state--meaning that the UK government has to pay for the transportation out of the UK--face a ban of five years. Visa violators who are in hiding, discovered and deported are banned from re-entering the UK for ten years. The ten-year banishment also applies to visa holders who breach the terms of their visa, such as working on a visitor or study visa.
The UK has instituted severe penalty fines for the sponsoring relatives of any visa overstayer past the 28-day grace period. The sponsoring relative is faced with a £1,000 to £5,000 fine as well as possible jail time. These new regulations went into effect in February 2008 along with the Parliament-amended laws concerning visa overstay penalties.