Dear Mr Bassie,
I read your column each week and I find it very informative. I have a friend who is presently visiting England, and is considering extending her stay. Will she be able to do this? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your email. It is possible for a person to extend his or her stay in the United Kingdom as a general visitor.
If an individual goes to the United Kingdom as a general visitor, usually he or she is allowed to remain there for a maximum of six months or, in some cases, up to 12 months if he or she is accompanying an academic visitor. It is at the point of entry when the visitor enters the United Kingdom that the immigration authorities will stamp the duration of the permission granted to the visitor to stay in that person's passport.
If a person is initially given permission to enter the United Kingdom for three months, and that person later would like to extend his or her stay to the maximum of six or 12 months in total, then that person must apply for an extension.
If the authorities had given the visitor permission to enter the United Kingdom for three months as a child visitor, and that person's 18th birthday is during this period, he or she can apply to extend the stay as a general visitor.
The maximum total time that a person can stay in the United Kingdom will be six months or, as previously stated, 12 months if he or she is accompanying an academic visitor. It should be noted that if the authorities allow a visitor to extend their stay, then that person must continue to meet the requirements for general visitors.
With respect to general visitors, it should be noted that when the permission to stay as a visitor expires, the United Kingdom authorities expect the visitor to return home and it is not allowable for the visitor to 'switch' into a different immigration category.
The visitor, in applying for an extension, must apply using application form FLR(O), and this application form can be completed and submitted online, or the form can be printed out and completed by hand and submitted by post, by courier or in person.
The applicant should read the FLR(O) guidance notes before he or she completes the application form, and will also need to pay a fee when applying. It should be noted that the authorities will not refund the applicant's fee if the application is refused or the application is withdrawn.
The application form will give the applicant details of the documents that must be sent with the form. The applicant should send the original documents, not copies. However, in exceptional circumstances, the authorities may accept a photocopy that is certified as an accurate copy by the body or authority that had issued the original, or by a notary public. It is necessary for the applicant to include a letter that explains why he or she is providing a certified copy rather than the original document.
Furthermore, the person making the application for extension of stay must be in the United Kingdom to apply, and he or she must apply at least four weeks before their permission to stay in the United Kingdom ends.
Also, if the applicant applies by post, he or she must send their application to the address given on the form. If the applicant's application is straightforward, then he or she can apply in person using the authorities same-day service at one of the public enquiry offices for a premium fee.
I hope this helps.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.