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What Happens If You Want to Extend Your Stay?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Work Europe Usa Hong Kong Visa Tourist

If you go and work abroad for a certain period of time and have such a wonderful experience that you do not want to come when you planned to, what do you need to do to make sure you are legally entitled to stay?

This is far easier in Europe, as British citizens are entitled to travel freely and work in the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland (which is not part of the EEA even though it is in Europe). However, this does not mean that you can just rock up in Paris, Berlin or wherever and start working without paying some attention to the legal implications of your stay.

Residency Issues

Essentially, the important issue to consider is your residency – this is not a subjective situation, but rather an exact science. Details can be found on the Government’s UK Border Agency and Inland Revenue websites as they do change, but the key detail to be aware of when working abroad is related to your intentions. If you leave the UK to work abroad for a set period time and intend to return to the UK for the long term, the issue is not the same as if you leave the UK with the intention to stay long term in the ‘new’ European country.

However, your residency could be seen as starting the day after you arrive in your ‘new’ country if you stay, so it is important that you gain some personalised advice about your tax status. You will need to pay tax in the country of residency, which may be the new country or the UK. If you are working through your current employer, check with the HR department, or you can also ask your local UK tax office for advice before you leave, or when you decide to stay beyond your initial time frame.

Outside Europe

Outside of the EEA and Switzerland, staying on for longer than your original plans can have far reaching implications, so it is imperative that you obtain the correct information. It is impossible to offer detailed advice for individuals within this article, especially as it is such a crucial matter, but there are guidelines that can be offered. As a rule, the most important issue to clarify is your visa status and your permission to work. In Hong Kong, for example, you will have needed to complete a visa entry form before leaving the airport which will have shown your intentions. If you then do not follow this, you will need to go to the British Embassy with the form and explain your intentions. In the USA, a three month tourist visa will become invalid if you outstay your time, with serious implications for your ability to visit the USA in the future.

Types of Visa

Student visas are often more flexible than working visas, with holidaymaker visas often not allowing any form of paid work. Student visas tend to have a limit on the number of hours allowed to work each week (usually very few – perhaps eight and certainly no more than 16, making it impractical as a means of support).

Working for an international company will usually give your more flexibility than if you are working for a small company or finding your own temporary work. This is mostly because they are likely to have a legal department that can arrange the correct permission, but also because they will not want to get into any trouble. Be aware of any agencies offering to arrange such permission for you and always check with the British Embassy (a list of addresses can be found on the Foreign Office website) as to their legal position.

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