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Long Residence and Indefinite Leave To Remain

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Having lived in the UK for many years, many migrants have made the country their home. The idea of returning to their original country is ludicrous, given they may have no contacts, support, or connections, or even speak the local language.

It is possible to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after a period of 10 or 20 years residing in the UK. This can be complex, so it is important to invest in expert legal advice from a top Immigration law firm in London. They can help you understand the best option for applying for ILR based on your circumstances, and an Immigration solicitor can help you fill out the forms and collate the necessary supporting documents.

Indefinite Leave to Remain – the 10-year route

Immigration Rules, para. 276B provides that a person living in the UK lawfully for 10 years, may apply for ILR. You may have been residing in the UK under a combination of visas and still be eligible for ILR under the 10-year route. For example, you may have entered the UK originally on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, then switched to a Tier 2 (General) Visa after obtaining sponsorship from a UK Sponsor Licence holder. After a few years, you may have decided to study and switched to a Tier 4 student visa.

UK visa solicitors will advise you that the rules around what constitutes ‘lawful residence’ can be strict.

To be eligible to apply for ILR under the 10-year route, you must show:

  • you have been in the UK legally for at least ten years
  • during that 10 years, you have kept to the terms of your visa/s
  • you have passed the Life in the UK Test
  • you meet the English language requirements

To meet the English language requirements, you need to demonstrate:

  • you hold a speaking and listening qualification at B1 level
  • you hold a qualification of degree level that was taught or researched in English
  • you are an original national of an English-speaking country

You will also need to prove ‘continuous residence.' This criterion can be fulfilled by;

  • not being out of the UK for more than 18 months (540 days in total) during the 10-year period
  • maintaining valid leave to remain status under any Immigration category for the period
  • not being out of the UK for more than six months on any one occasion during the 10 year period
  • having clear evidence of returning to the UK if you have left for a period (for example, maintaining a bank account or keeping your tenancy on a flat)
  • not having been removed or deported from the UK during the 10 years’ period

In situations where there are compelling or compassionate circumstances which required the applicant to be outside the UK for more than six months, a caseworker has the discretion to grant ILR despite the continuous residence criteria not being met. The threshold for compelling or compassionate circumstances is high. An example of this may be where the applicant was prevented from returning to the UK through unavoidable circumstances or the applicant being too ill to travel back to the UK for six months or more.

If you cannot meet the continuous residency requirements, it is crucial to talk to an Immigration solicitor to obtain the best advice on explaining your compelling or compassionate circumstances to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Not only will an experienced Immigration lawyer provide guidance, but they can also draft a letter to UKVI explaining your situation.

If you do not meet all the eligibility requirements for ILR, you can apply to extend your visa for another two years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain – the 20-year route

A person who has lived in the UK for 20 years continuously can apply for limited leave to remain under paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules.

The biggest difference between the 10-year and 20-year route is your residence in the UK does not have to have been lawful.

You must meet one of the requirements contained in paragraph 276ADE (iii) to (vi), which states that the applicant;

iii) Has lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years (discounting any period of imprisonment)

iv) Is under the age of 18 years and has lived continuously in the UK for at least seven years (discounting any period of imprisonment)

v) Is aged 18 years or above and under 25 years and has spent at least half o/0f their life residing continuously in the UK (discounting any period of imprisonment)

vi) Is aged 18 years and above, has lived continuously in the UK for less than 20 years (discounting any period of imprisonment) but has no ties (including social, cultural, or family) with the country to which they would have to go if required to leave the UK

The basis of the criteria used to define the ties to the UK seems to depend more on the lack of ties in the country the applicant would be returned to rather than the strength of the Employment, family and community ties created in the UK.

Those applying under the 20-year route often have claims under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as they have established both a private and family life within the UK. A top Immigration lawyer will ensure that there are grounds for an Article 8 appeal when initially submitting an application for ILR to UKVI to ensure the best chance of an overall successful result.

In summary

Applicants applying for ILR under the 10 or 20-year long residence route are often nervous that their applications will be refused. After building a life in the UK, developing friendships, a career, perhaps owning a home, the thought of having to return to what may be a completely alien country is understandably terrifying.

By instructing a top London Immigration solicitor to provide you with the best Immigration law advice, you have the greatest chance of having your application for ILR approved, leaving you free to continue with your future, free from Immigration concerns.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.

By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.

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