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Indefinite leave to remain if you’ve been in the UK for 10 years (long residence)

Table of content


Under paragraph 276B of the Immigration Rules, a person with 10 years continuous and lawful residence in the UK can apply for indefinite leave to remain on the grounds that they will have ties to Britain built over a lengthy period of residence. By settling in the UK, you can live and work in the UK without time limitations.

To be eligible, the applicant must meet the following requirements to be granted indefinite leave:

  • Have a valid leave to remain in the UK in any immigration category or a combination of different immigration categories;
  • Have at least 10 years continuous and lawful residence in the UK;
  • Not be in the United Kingdom in breach of immigration laws,
  • there must be no reason why granting leave is against the public good,
  • meet the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement,
  • not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal,

Public interest and general grounds for refusal

Before granting indefinite leave to remain for long residence applications, the Home Office will have to consider public interest, the basis of which is set out in paragraphs 276B (ii), 320 and 322 of the Immigration Rules. This will involve consideration of a number of factors indicating that it would be undesirable to grant the applicant indefinite leave including:

  • Your age;
  • Strength of your connections in the UK;
  • Your personal circumstances;
  • Any compassionate circumstances;
  • criminal convictions;
  • NHS debt and
  • Any representations submitted on your behalf.

An application for 10 years long residence ILR should therefore include evidence relating to an individual’s personal circumstances including employment and/or academic records, tenancy agreement history or property ownership, contribution to the community and general conduct.

To be eligible for ILR under the long residence route, the applicant must also have completed 10 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK.

Lawful residence

Lawful residence, as defined in paragraph 276A of the Immigration Rules, is as a period of continuous residence in which the applicant had one of the following:

  • Existing leave to enter or remain;
  • Temporary admission where leave is subsequently granted and
  • An exemption from immigration control.

You must have been in the UK legally for 10 years and kept to the terms of your UK visa, this can be in any immigration category or a combination of different immigration categories. The relevant qualifying period starts from either when you arrived in Britain with a UK visa or when you were given permission to stay in the UK. The qualifying 10 years period does not need to have been completed recently, you can rely on any previous continuous lawful residence.

Time the applicant has spent in the UK with 3C leave also counts towards lawful residence.

Lawful residence also means that the applicant must not be currently in the UK in breach of immigration laws.

Breaching an immigration law can include:

  • entering the UK illegally,
  • entering the UK in breach of a deportation order,
  • overstaying in the UK,
  • breaching a condition of your leave to remain.

An application may be granted ILR on long residence grounds even when there are periods of overstay, provided the applicant has short gaps in lawful residence through making previous applications out of time either by no more than 28 calendar days where those gaps ended before 24 November 2016 or on or after 24 November 2016 but leave was granted in accordance with paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules where application was made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring and the Secretary of State considers that there was a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative.

The threshold for what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ is high, but could include delays resulting from unexpected or unforeseeable causes. For example: serious illness, travel or postal delays or inability to provide necessary documents for instance when it is the Home Office’s fault because it lost or delayed returning travel documents etc.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for your visa.

Continuous residence

Continuous residence is the time spent in the UK without any significant periods of absence. You can leave the UK for up to 6 months at any one time, but no more than 18 months in total (or 540 days) during the qualifying period without affecting your continuous residence. In addition, you will need to have valid leave both when you leave the UK and when you return however the existing leave does not have to be in the same category on departure and return.

You will also have a break in your residence if at any time during the period relied upon you:

  • Were removed or deported from the UK;
  • Evidenced a clear intention not to return to the UK on leaving;
  • Left the UK with no reasonable expectation of being able to return lawfully;
  • Were sentenced to a period of imprisonment (not suspended) or directed to be detained;

For the purpose of calculating time spent outside the UK for the long residence rules, a month constitutes 30 calendar days and you only have to count full days out of the country, not days spent travelling.

If the applicant has been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in one period or more than 18 months in total, the application would normally be refused. However, it may be appropriate to exercise discretion over excess absences in compelling or compassionate circumstances, for example where the applicant was prevented from returning to the UK through unavoidable circumstances. In this case, a decision should be made by a senior executive officer (SEO) with a grant of leave outside the Immigration Rules being the appropriate outcome.

Things for the Home Office caseworker will consider when assessing if the absence was compelling or compassionate are:

  • For all cases, they will consider whether the applicant returned to the UK within a reasonable time once he was able to do so,
  • For a single absence of over 180 days they should consider:
    • how much of the absence was due to compelling circumstances and whether the applicant returned to the UK as soon as they were able to do so and
    • the reasons for the absence
  • For overall absences exceeding 540 days in the 10 year period, they should consider:
    • whether the long absence (or absences) that pushed the applicant over the limit happened towards the start or end of the 10 year residence period, and how soon they will be able to meet that requirement,
    • if the absences were towards the start of that period, the person may be able to meet the requirements in the near future, and so could be expected to apply when they meet the requirements,
    • however, if the absences were recent, the person will not qualify for a long time, and so Home Office case worker should consider whether there are particularly compelling circumstances

All of these factors must be considered together when determining whether it is reasonable to exercise discretion.

Continuous residence is broken if an applicant receives a custodial sentence by a court of law and is sent to: prison, a young offender institution or a secure hospital.

Continuous residence is not broken if an applicant receives a suspended sentence from a court of law. It is also important to note that time spent on remand awaiting trial does not break continuous residence.

English Language and Life In the UK

If you’re aged 18 to 65 years old, you must pass the Life in the UK Test and prove you have sufficient English language skills by either providing an English qualification at B1 CEFR level or a degree taught or researched in English. You do not need to prove your knowledge of English in certain circumstances for instance when you are under 18 or over 65 or you are from a majority English-speaking countries.

Application process, cost and timeframe

The application will have to be completed online and you will also need to pay £2,389 for the Home Office application fee.

The earliest you can make the application under the 10 year rule is 28 days before completing the qualifying period. Early application received more than 28 days before the applicant completes the required qualifying period will be refused and the application fees will not be refunded. However, the applicant can reapply once they have completed their qualifying period.

As part of your application process, you will be required to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to submit your biometric information (a scan of your fingerprints and a digital photograph of your face) for which there is an additional fee.

In support of your application, you will have to submit evidence of your immigration status and lawful residence in the UK during the qualifying period. You can either upload your supporting documents into the UKVCAS platform before attending your appointment or get them scanned for a fee when attending the said appointment.

A standard application for long residence will be processed within 6 months however you can get a fast decision in matter of days if you pay the super priority service.

Once you have been granted indefinite leave to remain on grounds of long residence, you will be free from any immigration time restrictions. You will not lose your indefinite leave to remain unless you are absent from the UK for more than two years or commit a serious offence.

Dependents family members

You cannot include your family members (partner and/or child) as dependants in your application; they can apply separately if they’re eligible; otherwise and depending on your circumstances, they may have to switch into a different category of the Immigration Rules, such as the Spouse or Civil Partner or Child of a settled person.

If you wish to find out more about your immigration matters, our team of experienced lawyers is happy to assist.

Two years limited long residence Leave (visa extension if you fail to meet some requirements of the long residence ILR)

A person who has completed 10 years continuous and lawful residence in the UK can apply for further leave to remain for 2 years if he is unable to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain due to non-custodial criminal conviction which is less than 24 months old or due to his inability to pass the English Test and/or Life in the UK test.

Paragraph 276A1 of the Immigration Rules provides that the requirement to be met by a person seeking an extension of stay on the ground of long residence in the United Kingdom is that:

  • He/she has had at least 10 years continuous lawful residence in the United Kingdom,
  • Having regard to the public interest there are no reasons why it would be undesirable for him to be given indefinite leave to remain on the ground of long residence,
  • The applicant is not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws, except where any current period of overstaying will be disregarded.

An extension of stay on the ground of long residence in the United Kingdom may be granted for a period not exceeding 2 years provided that the Secretary of State is satisfied that the relevant requirements are met. Leave will be granted on the same condition code they had in their previous grant of leave even where the applicant would not qualify for further leave in that category if they were to apply separately for it or if that category no longer exists.

To be eligible for such grant, the applicant must meet the rules for long residence and not the leave to remain rules for their previous category because the extension of leave to remain is granted under paragraph 276A2 of the long residence category of the Immigration Rules and not as an extension of their previous category of leave to remain.

It should be noted that if an applicant has not spent enough time in the UK to be granted indefinite leave, an extension will not be granted in order to complete the qualifying period of 10 years for long residence.

Application for further leave to remain based on 10 years long residence will normally be made using online application form FLR (LR) and will cost £1,033 in addition to £ 800 for the Immigration health surcharge. However where a person who has made an application for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence, private life in the UK or outside the rules on Article 8 grounds falls to be granted limited leave to remain instead, the Secretary of State will treat that application for indefinite leave to remain as an application for limited leave to remain and the applicant will be notified in writing of any requirement to pay an immigration health charge. If there is such a requirement and that requirement is not met, the application for limited leave to remain will be invalid and the Secretary of State will not refund any application fee paid in respect of the application for indefinite leave to remain.

A person who has been granted limited leave to remain on the basis of 10 years long residence can apply for ILR on the basis of 10 years long residence as soon as all the requirements for the grant of ILR are met.

If an applicant with temporary admission meets all the other requirements of rule 276B, discretion can be exercised by Border Force to grant them 6 months’ code 1 outside the Immigration Rules, so they can make an application in the UK on the basis of 10 years long residence.

Supporting documents

As part of your application process, you must provide supporting documents to demonstrate your continued and lawful residence in the UK, including but not limited to:

  • A current and valid travel document or passport,
  • Evidence of your permission to be in the country,
  • All previous passports,
  • Employment and/or academic records,
  • B1 English certificate of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) or a degree taught in English,
  • Life in the UK pass certificate or Unique reference number,
  • Bank statements,
  • Accommodation records
  • Your police registration certificate (if you have one) etc.

Appeal Rights Against Refusal of Indefinite Leave to Remain

In the event of a refusal of your indefinite leave to remain application based on long residence will be considered a human right application and should therefore attract a right of appeal.

For a free visa assessment, speak to us. To make an enquiry you can call our dedicated Immigration enquiry line on: +44(0)7869806506 or by email at info@kassolicitors.uk

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