Four-year maximum sentences for visa overstayers

The Nationality and Borders Bill 2021, about which we reported previously here has passed its third reading in the House of Commons and now goes to the House of Lords on 5 January 2022.

The House of Lords will very likely vote to remove some of the more egregious provisions, and it is always possible that the government will accept a few of those suggestions.

One change of the Bill is to make knowingly overstaying a visa punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment (currently the maximum is six months, very rarely prosecuted).

This is being done by adding a new subsection B1A into section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971:

(B1A) A person who—

(a) has only a limited leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, and

(b) knowingly remains beyond the time limited by the leave,

commits an offence.

Someone convicted in the Crown Court will be liable to “imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or a fine (or both)”.

The same applies to various other new illegal immigration offences, including entering the UK without an electronic travel authorisation.

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