As specialist Immigration solicitors we are often asked what is meant by the term ‘long residence’. To some Immigration clients, with international families and frequent job changes, if they stay in a country for more than twelve months then they class it as a ‘long residence’. For others, five years residence in a new country is just the settling in period. Whatever your personal perspective on what counts as ‘long residence’, it is the Home Office guidance that is the key to determining whether the length of your stay in the UK meets the Home Office long residence criteria.
OTS Solicitors are recommended for Immigration
law in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession.
For advice on long residence and your best UK settlement options call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
UK long residence
If you want to settle in the UK then one option is to use the ‘long residence’ route and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
based on your long residence in the UK.
To meet the long residence ten-year eligibility criteria, you will have to be able to demonstrate that you:
• Have been in the UK for at least ten years; and
• Your long residence in the UK was legal or lawful residence. In other words, you have had valid leave to be in the UK. This does not have to have been on one type of visa. Over the ten years you could have switched visa, from say a student or spouse visa to a work visa. The important point is that you are not an ‘overstayer’; and
• You must have been in the UK on a ‘continuous basis’ over the ten year period. It isn’t enough to say that you have obtained annual visit visas or that you stayed on a student visa for a number of years, then left the UK for three years, then returned on a new type of visa. Your presence in the UK over the ten year period has to be both lawful and continuous; and
• Over the ten year period, you must have complied with all the terms of your UK visa/s; and
• There must be no reason why granting you settlement would be ‘against the public good’ and you must not meet any of the general grounds for the refusal of Indefinite Leave to Remain; and
• You must meet the English language requirement; and
• You must pass the Life in the UK test.
For many people the sticking points to a long residence application are the requirement for ten years of both continuous residence and lawful residence.
Meaning of continuous residence
In this day and age of fast jets and international travel no one expects you to stay in the UK for ten years with no interruptions. The Home Office rules on continuous residence say that you can leave the UK during the ten year period provided that your absence is not classed as significant and is within the allowable periods of absence.
The Home Office guidance states that you can leave the UK for up to six months but over the ten year period your total absences from the UK should not exceed eighteen months or 540 days in total.
For those near the Home Office guidance limits, the good news is that UK Visas and Immigration
only count days out of the UK. That means that travel days do not form part of the absence allowance.
Absences of over six months out of the UK are normally treated by the Home Office as having stopped your continuous residence. If you have been absent from the UK for over six months over your ten year long residence period it is best to take legal advice on whether you should:
• Ask the Home Office to exercise discretion; or
• Restart your clock for your ten year long residence, and if so, what your visa options are to ensure that you continue to meet the lawful residence criteria.
Continuous residence can also be broken if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment. When most people learn of this Home Office rule they are surprised by it, as after all you remain resident in the UK during your sentence, just not at liberty.
If you are in any doubt about your continuous residence then you should take legal advice before submitting your Indefinite Leave to Remain
application. That is because the complex Home Office Immigration
Rules can easily confuse applicants and may result in you thinking that you have met the continuous residence requirement when , under the rules, you have not yet done so.
Lawful residence is the other way that many Immigration
clients can unwittingly fall foul on the ten year long residence eligibility criteria. To qualify as having been lawfully resident you must have entered the UK with valid entry clearance and remained in the UK on valid visas.
Although a period of unlawful presence in the UK restarts the ten year long residence clock there are some limited exceptions to the rule. The exceptions depend on whether your period of overstay took place before the 24 November 2016 or not.
Long residence after twenty years
Lots of people hear mention of long residence and get confused by whether that means you have to be resident in the UK for ten or twenty years. The short answer is that if you qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain
under the ten year lawful and continuous residence rule then you should make your application under the ten year Home Office rules.
If you are not fortunate enough to qualify for long residence under the ten year route, because of gaps in your continuous residence or lawful residence, then an Immigration
solicitor should explore whether the twenty year route of long residence is the best option for you to secure Indefinite Leave to Remain
If you meet a twenty year continuous residence requirement in the UK, and you can prove it, then you may be able to regularise your Immigration
position. Crucially the twenty year period can include periods of imprisonment and times when you did not have entry clearance and were therefore an overstayer.
If you can establish a twenty year long residence then you may be able to apply for limited leave to remain
. Unlike Indefinite Leave to Remain
, limited leave is time limited. If you are granted limited leave to remain
you can normally lawfully stay in the UK for up to thirty months. At the end of that period you can look at your visa and Immigration
options and you could potentially apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
once you have built up ten years of lawful residence and continuous residence.
If you have lived in the UK for twenty years it is worth exploring your best Immigration
and settlement options by taking legal advice on the specific eligibility criteria and requirements.
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration
law and settlement applications. If you need help with an Indefinite Leave to Remain
application or you have questions about long residence and your best Immigration
options then call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
London based OTS Solicitors are recommended for Immigration
law in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration
For more information about long residence and Indefinite Leave to Remain applications or any other aspect of personal or business immigration law, call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form to speak to one of our friendly and approachable immigration solicitors.