I’m From the US and Had to Leave the UK with Student Loan Debt

“Dear Jon,

American student that studied at a UK university, finances fell through, so I had to leave (I withdrew) the university and country in debt.

UK collectors are now contacting me and saying that there was a breach in my immigration status since I owe debt. Since I am American, I don’t need a visa to visit, so I was wondering if the border agency’s knowledge of my debt will bar my entry into the UK.




First, to my knowledge owing debt has nothing to do with “breaching” your Visa or immigration status. You should have no issues returning to the UK to visit just because you owe student loans. You can confirm this by contacting the UK Border Agency.

I am assuming you are now living back in America. Are the collectors that are contacting you in the UK?

What type of student loans were these? Also, how much do you owe?

Are you in a position to repay these?

I ask as student loans in the UK do have a couple of unique factors. One is that they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. The other is that once you finish your studies you do not have to repay the loans until you earn over £21,000 per year. And then you pay back a percentage 9%, of any income over the £21,000, as a repayment.

I hope this helps.



Jon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.

If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.

6 thoughts on “I’m From the US and Had to Leave the UK with Student Loan Debt”

  1. Thanks for your reply Jon. The loans I received were federal loans from my government (US). So I didnt actually borrow any money from anyone in the UK, nor did they help me financially. I basically just owe them tuition fees. The amount is 5000 pounds. The collectors are emailing me from the UK. As I am a full time student here in America, I do not have to pay back my loans until after I graduate. I am also still receiving student loans from the government which I live off of. I contacted the UK Border Agency but they said they couldnt answer my question as it is up to the discretion of the entry clearance officer when I visit. I have looked around the net and found 2 travel guides that say you cannot get a visa or enter the UK if you owe a debt over 1000 pounds in the UK. On the other hand, most things I see say that no one with over 1000 pounds of debt in the NHS can enter the UK or get a visa.

    This is what was written to me by the collection agency in the UK.:

    Our client is obligated to notify the Home Office, UK Borders Agency of breach of the Immigration Act of 1971 under the law and policy section of immigration rules part 3: Paragraph 57. Should you require a visa to enter the UK, you will be aware that incurring a debt in the UK is in breach of the strict visa conduct rules. We have, therefore, been instructed to forward a copy of this action to our contacts at the UK Border Agency for an immigration officer to carry out an investigation.

    I cant find the immigration rules anywhere or anything else that states this

    • Jordan,

      Thanks for the information and I can only go by my experiences and knowledge.

      You should have no problem coming back to the UK as a visitor on holiday. No one is going to stop and ask you about debt. They will ask you the reason for your visit, and possibly where will you be staying.

      UK student loans do not need to be repaid until you finish your courses or earn above the threshold that has been set. Why you are being contacting to pay this money back, I am unsure, unless it was not a student loan of sorts.

      Lastly, I am unsure what Immigration Act the collectors are referring to, and you may wish to seek legal advice. I can state as a person who has dual citizenship, in both the UK and US, and who has had a Work Visa, Spousal Visa, and Leave to Remain Visa, and now citizenship in the UK, I was never asked about any debt whatsoever. I had to show employment and wages, but nothing about debt. In fact, at one point I had £2,000 debt on my credit card for expenses.

      That is just my experience.

      I hope this helps and I wish you well. Let me know how you get on.



      • The fact that I used US student loans and not UK student loans is confusing, since both the US and UK do not require payment until after you graduate or if you stop going to school. I didnt receive any funds other than those US loans. Second, I dont really see how I could be in breach of my visa since my visa was curtailed back in March, after I voluntarily withdrew from the university. I do admit, Im quite a bit nervous about flying over there this Thursday. From an expert point of view, could you analyze this sentence for me?:

        “We are instructed to instigate legal proceedings against you unless we receive your proposals for payment within 7 days from the date of receipt of this letter.”

        Since I replied with a proposal on the same day, will this halt the action of them proceeding with the legal stuff?

        • Jordan,

          The sentence or statement, you are asking about is more of a legal issue, and I cannot provide legal advice.

          From my experience, I think you will be OK when you come back here to the UK. Just having debt in the UK alone is not a reason to be denied entry to the UK.



          • Hey Jon, just returned from the UK. Had no problems as you predicted. This is without the court judgement though. I spoke to the collector again and he said that deferment doesnt apply to me because I somehow breached my contract of payment. So since I cant pay any money since I am already on a loan for school, they are going to send it to the courts. Not exactly sure what to do in this situation other than to let it go and hope that it doesnt hurt my future entries into the UK

          • Jordan,

            You should stay on top of this so you know what is happening, however, even if it goes to court, this alone will not cause you any issues returning to the UK.

            Unless you are charged with a crime, something illegal, which having debt(s) is not illegal, you will be OK returning to the UK to visit.



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