Have you been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years or more? If so, you may qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK under the Long Residence route, providing you meet all the eligibility requirements.

The benefit of holding Indefinite Leave to Remain status in the UK means you are free from immigration time restrictions.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK under the Long Residence route the following criteria must be met:

  • You must have permission to stay in the UK, commonly known as Leave to Remain, this can be in the same category or various immigration categories, restrictions apply and are explained later on in this article.
  • You must have been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years.
  • You must have kept to the terms of your visa and not breached any immigration laws or have any criminal convictions.
  • You must have passed the Life in the UK Test.
  • You must prove you have sufficient English Language Skills if you are not from a majority English speaking country. You can do this by passing an approved English Language test at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level or if you have a degree taught or researched in English which is recognised by UKVI. DavidsonMorris Solicitors can help you determine if your degree is recognised or if you will need to pass an approved English Test.

What are the tests I can complete for English Language?

A full list of tests approved by UK Visas and Immigration can be found here.

You can select a test from this list at the relevant level for your application.

When does the 10 year qualifying period start from?

The 10 year period starts from either:

  • When you arrived in the UK on a valid visa; or
  • When you were given permission to stay in the UK

What is continuous residence?

Continuous residence is time you have spent in the UK lawfully without any major breaks / gaps in your residence.

Are there any gaps that UK Visas and Immigration will take in to consideration?

Yes, there are. You can leave the UK and are allowed the following absences:

  • 180 days per calendar year;
  • 540 day in total over the full 10 year qualifying period.

UK Visa and Immigration will also take into consideration if you leave the UK on a valid visa and re-enter the UK on a new visa which is valid, providing you entered within 180 days.

For example: If you enter the on a Tier 4 (General) Student visa which is valid until 1st April 2015, you leave the UK on 25th March 2015 and re-enter the UK on a Spouse visa on 15th July 2015, this would not be considered as breaking continuous lawful residence in the UK.

When continuous residence is broken?

Continuous residence in the UK is broken if an applicant receives a custodial sentence by a court of law and is sent to:

  • A prison
  • Young Offenders Institute
  • Secure hospital

Continuous residence would also be broken if you spend time in any of the following:

  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Channel Islands

Is there any type of visa which does not count towards the 10 year lawful residence period in the UK?

Any time spent in the UK under the European Economic Area (EEA) regulations does not count towards the lawful residence period. This would include the following categories:

  • The spouse, civil partner or other family member of an European Union (EU)
  • An EEA national exercising their treaty rights to live in the UK but have not qualified for permanent residence
  • Former family members who have retained a right of residence

However, if you have had leave to remain granted in a number of categories including the above, a caseworker must apply discretion on whether time spent in the UK under the EEA Regulations counts towards the 10 year lawful period and if you would be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

DavidsonMorris Solicitors can advise further advice and if any time you have spent under the EEA Regulations will count towards the qualifying period in the UK.

When can you apply for Indefinite Leave to remain under the Long Residence option?

The earliest you can submit an application to UK Visas and Immigration is 28 days prior to completing the qualifying period.

Applying any earlier will lead to your application being refused and the fee paid to UK Visas and Immigration will not be refunded.

What are the processing times for Indefinite Leave to Remain Long Residence applications?

On 6th April 2015, UK Visas and Immigration introduced the use of the Premium Service at a higher fee for anyone applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Long Residence route. Using this route would mean a decision would be made on the same day and the Biometrics Residence Permit would be sent within 7-10 working days, however this is not guaranteed, applications may take longer if there are any technical issues on the day of the appointment.

Alternatively, applications may still be made by post and would take up to 6 months for a decision to be made. During this time all documents would be with the Home Office and you would not be able to travel overseas.

What are UK Visas and Immigration fees for this application?

If applying by post the fee is £1,500 or £1,900 if applying at a Premium Service Centre.