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Long Residence Applications

Immigration and Lawful Residence


Cartwright King’s leading UK Immigration Team can help you secure settlement in the UK if you have accumulated 10 years continuous lawful residence or combination of up to 20 years or more lawful and unlawful residence. Our dedicated Immigration Lawyers are determined to secure your status so you can stay in the UK and look forward to continuing to reside in the UK free of any immigration restrictions.

Get in touch now for reliable, practical advice and assistance with your long residence application.

What changes have been made in immigration law in 2021?

There have been no changes in 2021 to the 10 year long residence route to settlement in the UK. Important amendments were made to the Immigration Rules on 2 April 2007 in the form of paragraph 276A1, paragraph 276A2, and paragraph 276b. These amendments allow long residence applicants to be granted limited leave to remain if they have lawfully lived for at least 10 years continuously in the UK and if they meet a few other requirements.

Immigrants wishing to live lawfully in the UK on a long or permanent basis must apply for indefinite leave to remain ILR. The terms and eligibility requirements are quite complex. And it is advised to go through the process with a competent; dedicated immigration lawyer who can help you through the process from start to finish.

It is possible to apply for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of having 10 years continuous residence in the UK – Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. But the process is quite complex and should be done with the help of a competent and experienced immigration lawyer.

What does ‘continuous ‘ and ‘lawful’ residence mean?

Continuous lawful residence is defined in paragraph 276A(a) of the Immigration Rules. To summarise, “Continuous residence” means living in the UK for an unbroken period of time- not more than 6 months living outside the UK at any given time and not more than 18 months in total within the 10 year period.

Lawful residence” means residence which is continuous residence pursuant to:

  1. Existing leave to enter or remain; or
  2. Temporary admission within section 11 of the [Immigration Act 1971] (as previously in force), or immigration bail within section 11 of the 1971 Act, where leave to enter or remain is subsequently granted; or
  3. 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.

Does a past record of 10 years long residence count?

In order to make a successful application for ILR under the 10 years lawful residence rule, the 10 year period must end within the 28 days preceding the date of application.

Additional requirements for indefinite leave to remain ILR

The requirements are rather complex, and there is a little bit of room left open for interpretation and extenuating circumstances. However, in general, to be considered for indefinite leave to remain, the applicant must:

  • Have at least 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK
  • Be able to demonstrate or prove competence in the English language
  • Pass the Life in the UK test. (Applicants under 18 years of age or above 65 are exempt from this requirement.) The test consists of 24 questions covering British values, history, traditions, and everyday life.
  • Not be in breach or ever have been in breach of UK visas and immigration rules. (There are exceptions and some room for extenuating circumstances that a good immigration lawyer would be able to navigate.)

Additionally, there must not be any reason why granting leave to remain would be against the public good. This stipulation takes into account the applicant’s age, strength of connections in the UK, their personal history, including character, conduct, associations and employment record.

Owning property or a lawfully run business may be shown to support the idea that the applicant has made a long-term commitment to the UK. Additionally, if the applicant has contributed positively to society, for example through investment or charitable work, this may also act in their favour.

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What constitutes a break in continuous residence?

Continuous residence is considered to be broken if the applicant has been absent from the UK for a period of more than 6 months (180 days) at any one time or spent a total of 18 months (540 days) outside the UK throughout the whole 10-year period.

However, discretion may be exercised in exceptional circumstances, for example, if the applicant was prevented from returning to the UK due to unavoidable circumstances beyond their control.

According to immigration rules, the 10 years long residence is also considered to be broken if the applicant left the UK before 24 November 2016 with no valid leave to remain on their departure, and they failed to apply for entry clearance within 28 days of their previous leave expiring.

When should you fill out an ILR application?

You should submit your ILR application after meeting, or within 28 days of meeting, the 10 years long residence requirement. The qualifying period of 10 years lawful residence begins on the date of your entry visa or on the date you were granted permission to stay in the UK (in accordance with UK visas and immigration procedures).

You must also make sure to submit your ILR application while your current visa or leave to remain is still valid.

How long does the ILR application process take?

It generally takes around 6 months for the UKVI to process an indefinite leave to remain application. However, by taking advantage of the UKVI’s super-priority service, a good lawyer, with experience in UK immigration law and the long residence requirements can have the decision for your application within 24 hours of you attending your Biometrics appointment.

What are the benefits of an indefinite leave to remain visa?

If you have lived in the UK lawfully for at least 10 years, according to UK immigration law, paragraph 276b and the 10-year rule, you may be eligible for a long residence indefinite leave to remain visa. This status would allow you and your family (if they also meet the long residence requirements) to live and work in the UK free from visa restrictions. You would also be able to leave the UK without fear of not being denied re-entry.

Free, Initial Telephone Conversation With an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

To navigate you through the complex steps of UK immigration law – including the requirements and exceptions in the 10 years long residence rule – it is strongly advised you speak with a competent, caring and experienced immigration lawyer.

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Frequently asked questions.

An application for UK settled status on the basis of 10 years long residency requires you to meet very specific criteria, including:

  • Proof of 10 years’ continuous, lawful residency in the UK
  • Evidence that your desire to settle in the UK is not detrimental to the public interest – your age and the strength of your connections in the UK will be a factor
  • Meeting English language requirements 
  • Passing the Life in the UK test 
  • Compliance with the terms of your existing UK visa

The 20 year rule on long residence is contained at paragraph 276ADE(1)(iii) of the Immigration Rules. Under the 20 year rule, a person does not have to have lived in the UK lawfully, but simply “continuously”.

The provision in the immigration law that allowed for people living in the UK for an extended period of time to apply for an ILR visa, regardless of their legal status, is no longer valid.

That provision was abolished in 2012.

If your application is successful under the 20-year rule, you will be granted limited leave to remain in the UK for 30 months. However, you will not have access to state benefits.

You will then be eligible to apply for ILR once you have accumulated 10 years’ lawful residency in the UK. This means that under the 20-year rule, you will be unable to apply for settlement until you have been in the UK for 30 years.

Continuous residence is the amount of time you have spent in the UK without any gaps. Continuous residence becomes void if you spend more than 180 days at a time out of the UK or more than 540 days in total. Time in prison does not count towards gaps in continuous residency.

Yes. If you are aged between 18 and 65, it is compulsory for you to take the Life in the UK test as part of your settlement application. The exam tests your knowledge of British traditions and customs and you need to score 75% or above to pass.

You can take the test as many times as you need, but you must pay a £50 fee every time you take it.