If you have been living continuously and lawfully in the UK for 10 years, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) on the basis of long residence. This post is designed to give some practical tips when preparing for a long residence ILR application.
Know the requirements for 10 year Long Residence ILR
To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain on the grounds of long residence, the following requirements must be met:
- You have spent a period of at least 10 years residing in the UK continuously and lawfully;
- Your 10 year period of lawful residence is unbroken;
- There are no public interest reasons why it would be unreasonable to grant you indefinite leave to remain;
- You meet the English language and Life in the UK test requirement;
- You must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
- You must not in breach of immigration laws unless it falls into the exceptions;
Understand continuous lawful residence
When applying for ILR on the basis of 10 years long residence in the UK, you must demonstrate that you have been continuously lawfully resident in the UK.
The Home Office guidance defines lawful residence as follows:
"Lawful residence is defined in paragraph 276A of the Immigration Rules as a period of continuous residence in which the applicant had one of the following:
• existing leave to enter or remain
• temporary admission within section 11 of the 1971 Immigration Act where leave to enter or remain is subsequently granted
• an exemption from immigration control, including where an exemption ceases to apply if it is immediately followed by a grant of leave to enter or remain"
Once the 10 year period of continuous lawful residence is built up, the entitlement to ILR under the 10 year long residence route does not expire, even after the applicant has spent time living outside the UK. However, do take note of the events that can break continuous residence and this is discussed below.
Make sure you know what absences are permitted
One of the requirements for an application for a 10 years long residence ILR is that there must not be a break in your residence during this period. You can read more about absences in an earlier blog post. Continuous residence will be broken if you have:
- Been absent from the UK for a period of more than 6 months at any one time;
- Spent a total of 18 months outside the UK throughout the period;
- Departed the UK before 24 November 2016 with no valid leave to remain when departing the UK and did not apply for entry clearance within 28 days of previous leave expiring (even if returned to the UK within 6 months).
The following factors are considered to break the continuous residence when an applicant:
- Was removed, deported or left the UK having been refused leave to enter or remain here; or
- Left the UK and evidenced a clear intention not to return; or
- Left the UK in circumstances with no reasonable expectation of being able to return lawfully; or
- Was sentenced to a period of imprisonment (not suspended) or directed to be detained.
Discretion over excess absences
In Home Office guidance, it sets out that if an applicant has been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in one period or more than 18 month in total, the application should normally be refused unless there are compelling or compassionate circumstances where the applicant was not able to return to the UK. We have discussed what 18 months mean for long residence ILR here.
The guidance instructs the caseworkers to consider whether the applicant returned to the UK within a reasonable time. If the applicant has a single absence of over 180 days, the caseworkers need to consider how much of the absence was due to compelling circumstances and whether the applicant returned to the UK once they were able to do so within a reasonable time. If the overall absences were 540 days in the 10 year period, the caseworkers will consider whether these absences were towards the start or end of the 10 year residence period. For example, if the absences were recent, the applicant may not meet the requirement and the caseworkers must therefore consider whether there are any compelling circumstances.
Don't forget English Language and Life in the UK requirements
One of the requirements is that you must show that you have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and produce evidence that you have successfully completed the Life in the UK Test, unless exempt.
The Home Office will consider the public interest before granting long residence applications. This may involve considering the applicant's age especially if the applicant is young and has adapted to life in the UK. An applicant's connections to the UK will also be a relevant factor as well as their domestic circumstances, such as any dependant children.
One of the factors the Home Office may also consider is an applicant's personal history, including character, conduct and employment record. They will also consider any compassionate circumstances and any representations made on the applicant's behalf.
Making an application
Applications for ILR on the basis of long residence are made online and can be made up to 28 days prior to completing your qualifying period of continuous lawful residence. If you make an application more than 28 days in advance, your application will be refused.
The current Home Office fee is £2,404 and processing time is 6 months unless you select the super priority service for an extra £800.