Long Residence

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a significant milestone for an immigrant’s journey in the UK. It grants them the right to live, work, and study without restrictions and opens the path to British citizenship.

This guide covers how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after a 10-year lawful stay, known as the Long Residence route. It explains who is eligible, the steps in the application process, and important points to consider before applying.

What is the Long Residence route to ILR?

The Long Residence route stems from a larger set of provisions called Private Life in the UK and allows you to apply for indefinite leave to remain after legally residing in the UK for 10 continuous years. Indefinite Leave to Remain, also known as permanent residence or settlement, grants you the right to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely and to apply for benefits if eligible.

You may qualify under this route if you have maintained your legal status throughout these years without any gaps under the categories permitted in the Appendix Long Residence. The permitted categories cover all visas apart from the visitor visa, short-term student visa (English) or Seasonal Worker Visa and its predecessors.

Please note that, as we will mention later, this route was updated after 11 April 2024, and the changes have been reflected in Appendix Long Residence accordingly.

Eligibility Criteria for Long Residence in the UK

Lawful Residence Requirement

To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the long residence category, you must have spent a continuous period of 10 years lawfully in the UK. This includes holding valid permission except as a Visitor, Short-term Student, or Seasonal Worker or being exempt from immigration control. Additionally, if you were in the UK as an EEA national or a family member of one, exercising the Right to Reside before 11:00 pm, 31 December 2020, the time referred to as Brexit, and until the time of awaiting a decision on your EUSS application after this date. Since 11 April 2024, EEA National Long Residence applicants do not need to prove they were exercising their Treaty Rights.

Continuous Residence Requirement

Continuous residence is defined as time spent in the UK without significant breaks and from 11 April 2024, this is defined as no more than 180 days in any 12-month (rolling) period.

For absences from the UK under rules set before January 11, 2018, applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain under Long Residence must ensure they haven’t been away from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 months leading up to the date of their current application. This is unless there are exceptions, such as a global pandemic or a humanitarian action.

Regarding the Long Residence application rules applicable until April 11, 2024: During any part  of the qualifying period before this date, the applicant should not have spent more than 184 days outside the UK at any single time. Additionally, the total number of days spent outside the UK during the qualifying period should be at most 548 days, again, subject to the relevant exceptions.

Given the lengthy requirements for the Long Residence category, applicants should carefully monitor important dates to determine their eligibility. We strongly advise applicants to refer to the most current laws or consult with experts to confirm their eligibility before proceeding with their applications.

The global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 posed serious challenges for many immigrant students, families, and professionals due to flight cancellations and other disruptions. These issues often led to significant gaps in their continuous residence in the UK, potentially affecting their eligibility under the Long Residence route.

At Immigration Connection, we provide customised sessions for immigrants in this category to evaluate their circumstances. We help verify the durations of their absences against the legal requirements and offer guidance on how to proceed with their applications.

If you need expert advice on absences and other eligibility, fill out our contact form for a free initial consultation.

After this highly important requirement, we continue with the other eligibility criteria.

Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK

Applicants aged 18-65 must demonstrate English language proficiency at B1 level. This can be demonstrated in many ways, such as being from a Majority English Speaking Country, having a bachelor’s or higher UK diploma or equivalent (as confirmed by ECCTIS), or passing an Approved English Test at an appropriate centre. Exemptions apply if you are over 65 or have a long-term physical or mental condition.

Changes before and after 11 April 2024

Significant changes to the continuous residence requirement took effect from 11 April 2024. These include the removal of the 548-day limit on total absences for periods extending beyond this date. The new rules and guidance are designed to be more accommodating for those who have maintained long-term connections with the UK and equalised the absence threshold with general indefinite leave to remain continuous residence requirements.

12-Month Visa Requirement for Applying for Long Residence

To qualify under the Long Residence category, the applicant must either have had permission under their current immigration route for at least 12 months as of the date of their application or must have been exempt from immigration control during the 12 months immediately preceding
their application date. This rule does not apply to immigrants whose existing visa was granted before April 11, 2024.

How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Application Process

To apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the Long Residence category, you must complete the application online while in the UK. You must also ensure your information is accurate to avoid delays. You will also be required to submit biometric information at a UKVCAS service point.

Required Documents

On top of providing your identification documents such as Passport and BRP/BRC (Residence cards are being removed as of 1 January 2025) and your Life in the UK test pass and English proficiency documents, you will also be required to provide documents covering a span of the last 10 years to demonstrate your lawful residence. Depending on which routes you rely on, the necessary documents vary.

If you have switched between multiple visa categories, be prepared for the extensive supporting evidence list and the time-consuming preparation process. This is particularly true for documents from the early years of your stay in the UK, as you need to cover 10 years, making it challenging to locate all relevant documents. It’s advisable to start gathering this information well in advance.

Application Fees and Biometric Information

The application fee for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is updated regularly and is non-refundable. Therefore, ensuring you meet all the requirements before applying is crucial. You should submit a comprehensive application file that includes full supporting evidence and additional documentation that clarifies exceptional circumstances, such as periods of absence, to strengthen your case.

If You Don’t Meet the Requirements

Even if you’ve completed 10 years of continuous residence in the UK, there may be reasons you do not meet all the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the Long Residence category. However, this does not exclude you from relying on the Long Residence provisions. If the UKVI caseworker determines you are not eligible for ILR. In that case, you may still be granted a 2-year extension under the Long Residence category or other Family Life and Private Life provisions. As mentioned earlier, the Long Residence is part of a broader set of provisions known as Private Life in the UK.

British Citizenship

After obtaining ILR and living in the UK for an additional 12 months, you can apply for British citizenship. This step allows you to hold a British passport, further securing your long-term residency and work rights in the UK. To transition from a visa to ILR and eventually to British Citizenship, you must ensure continuous lawful residence for the required period under qualifying visas. Please note that if you are married or in a civil partnership with a British Citizen, you are exempt from the 12-months rule to apply for British Citizenship.

Processing Times

Typically, LR applications are processed within 6 months, but this can vary based on the complexity of your case and current application volumes. If additional information is needed, UKVI may contact you. Please also note that although the availability is subject to change, the Home Office also provides Priority and Super Priority services for an additional charge through which you can get a decision in 5 working days and 1 working day following your biometrics appointment, respectively.

How Immigration Connection Can Assist with Your Long Residence ILR Application

After spending a decade in the UK, applying for a Long Residency can present challenges. As highlighted in this article, managing absences and documenting lawful residence can be particularly difficult. You will need to meticulously review each stage of your immigration journey and supply the necessary documents to demonstrate your compliance with the conditions of the visas you’ve held over the 10-year period. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that you adhere to the absence limits, which may have varied due to changes in the law over time.

With over 10 years of experience in all UK visa categories and appeals, our team at Immigration Connection is here to help with your Long Residence Application.

Our expert advisers will help you understand the application process, eligibility criteria, required documents, and related procedures. We provide a comprehensive overview tailored to your situation.

We offer step-by-step guidance through your application, simplifying the process and alleviating stress. Our services include tailored advice sessions and a complete application consultancy package to support your journey towards ILR.

Frequently Asked Questions

If they also meet the requirements for Long Residence on their own rights, they can also apply.

No, Indefinite Leave to Remain does not have an expiry.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is permanent unless you leave the UK for 24 consecutive months. In such cases, ILR lapses, and you must apply as a Returning Resident to settle back in the UK. During long absences, border officers may question the reasons for frequent or extended travels to determine if you remain committed to living permanently in the UK or have moved your main residence to another country. The outcome of these interviews will depend on your responses and could lead to the revocation of your residency rights. You must apply using the Returning Resident route with supporting evidence when your circumstances are right.

As the Long Residence applications cover a decade, some information or documents, such as absences, can be hard to find or ascertain. In such cases, the best action is to lodge SAR
(Subject Access Request) applications to the Home Office, UK Visas & Immigration. Subject Access Requests are essentially Freedom of Information Act requests allowing individuals to
retrieve their data held by government institutions.

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