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There is no 180 day a year rule for visitors to the UK

William Carriello
Posted on Wed Jul 12
2 min read

One of the most common UK immigration myths is that there is a maximum permitted stay of 180 days in a year (or six months in 12 months) for UK visitors.

This myth has been propagated not just by migrants but also by advisers and even UK Border Force staff. In reality, there is no such rule.

The myth

The widely held belief goes something like this: a visitor to the UK can spend no more than six months out of any 12 inside the UK, or alternatively no more than 180 days a year. For example, if the visitor spends three months in the UK between January and March, then comes back in the summer with a new visit visa, they only have three months “left” to spend in the UK for that year — even if the new visa grants leave for six months.

As with other myths, this tale varies in its telling, with some believing that the six-month cap runs from January to December and “resets” each calendar year, while others believe it is based on a rolling 12-month period. I’ve seen impressive Excel spreadsheets charting both, sometimes created at the insistence of an overzealous / bored immigration official.

Despite there being no such rule or requirement, adherents to this myth do tend to have less trouble being granted entry to the UK as visitors. That’s because staying in the UK for an extended period does increase the risk of being refused a visit visa for the next trip, as it could be an indication that the stay is not a genuine visit. It’s just that spending a total of 181 days a year in the UK is not really any more of a red flag than a total of 180.

Now, before any visitors reading this gleefully rub their hands at the prospect of some magical loophole allowing them to overstay beyond the expiry date of their visa: you still have to adhere to your visa expiry date. What I am saying is that if you are granted leave to enter for six months, you can lawfully stay that full six months (subject to the health warning further down in this post). And if you are granted leave to enter for six months again not long after, you can stay for a further six months.

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