Yes, you are very correct, England
is a little vigilant on Schengen visa overstayers — often much more so than some of the actual countries of the Schengen region themselves — but this does not mean that they process and send back all visa overstayers for punishment. Though it is true that some travelers who have overstayed their Schengen visa and tried to enter England have been forced to return to the country that they overstayed in (often to receive no punishment there) it is still my impression that this action is more or less the exception rather than the rule. In point, hoards of tourists, foreign students, international workers are overstaying their Schengen visas, and a large part of these hoards are exiting the region through England — most travelers are not given much hassle.
Basically, if the English immigration official determines that he or she does not want you in England they will look for any reason to deny you entry, and returning you to mainland Europe for overstaying a Schengen tourist visa is just one of many recourses. I have written this time and time again: England has one of the tightest immigration procedures on the planet. If you are allowed into England, consider yourself a lucky traveler.
As far as your case is concerned, I would not worry too much: you overstayed a legitimate work visa in Italy by two months — who hasn’t? Be sure to dress real nice when you take your flight through England, look the immigration official in the eye, speak directly, completely, simply — DON’T SAY MORE THAN WHAT YOU HAVE TO — try not to act nervous, and carry yourself as if you have every right to enter England and that you expect no problems. Make sure that you know off hand your address in Italy, the name of your employer, where you are going in England, answer their questions with zero ambiguity, without delay, without saying “ummm,” without thinking. Be ready.
After traveling the world for 11 years and running this travel help site for a couple, it is my impression that the immigration officials for most countries in the world do not follow a hard set of rules in regards to who they allow to enter freely and who they decide to hassle. Immigration seems to be a very objective line of work. In point, carry yourself well when you go through immigration in England, look professional, and do not back down or whimper if they do decide to hassle you — argue, fight, tell them that they are wrong, act as if you are right, don’t admit to overstaying even though it is clearly demarked in your passport. If you prove to be a torn in their side, rather than a weak little pansy trying to squeak through with a guilty smile, it is my impression that your odds of getting into England will improve greatly.
Although it is clear that you did not change your Italian work visa to a tourist one, say that you did. There is a grey area in the Schengen visa rules about whether foreign workers or students can change their visas to 90 day tourist visas upon the completion of their work/ student visa. If you are hassled by English immigration, say that the Italian authorities said that you could stay 90 days as a tourists after your work visa was completed. This would of course not be true, but it could work. Blame the problem on the Italians — “they told me I could change to a tourist visa and that I did not need another stamp in my passport” — don’t take any blame, stand strong, refuse to be deported.
This is the best advice that I can give, what happens when you enter England is a crap shoot. It is not my impression that you should be given much trouble exiting Italy — even though this is the country that you ultimately violated the law in — as I have not yet received information as to Italian immigration yet being very diligent with punishing visa overstayers — though this could all change in the turn of a single day. In the end, I say don’t worry too much, everything should work out fine. Don’t be too nervous, keep in mind that whatever happens you will get through it eventually. Stand strong and walk with an air of authority into England. You should not be stopped.
Let us know how everything works out.
Original question about exiting Europe to England/ UK with expired Schengen visa
I heard that the immigration officials in the UK are strict
especially for Americans overstaying their Schengen Visas. I have a slightly different issue. I am an Australian who has overstayed the 1 year Italian work holiday visa for 2 months. I have a valid 2 year
work holiday Visa for the UK. I recently bought a ticket to London
going via Heathrow. I know I have overstayed my 1 year italian visa
by 2 months, but I’m now moving to London with a valid UK visa.
What are the chances of me getting into trouble. Any suggestions on how I can do this trouble free. Any help would be appreciated — THANKS!!!
If so, then take a look at our Schengen visa community forum. It’s a community just for people who have questions or concerns related to Europe’s Schengen immigration zone.