Changes to ILR prospects for long-term migrants
22 June 2012
The government has announced a change to its policy on family migration and the use of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (protection of the right to a private and family life) when applied to immigration cases. The changes are due to come into force on 9 July 2012 and are expected to have a far-reaching effect on those currently in the UK without permission.
As it stands, a person is able to make an application under the Immigration Rules for leave to remain once they have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 14 years. This can be made up of lawful or unlawful residence. This category has allowed those without any status in the UK to regularise their stay. Aside from their length of residence, applicants currently also have to show that they have no criminal convictions and that they have sufficient knowledge of the English language and of life in the United Kingdom. If they are able to demonstrate that they meet these requirements, they are then granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK with no restrictions placed on their stay.
As of 9 July, this category will be abolished. The government has, however, set out its plan to create a new category which will allow applicants who are here unlawfully or with a combination of lawful and unlawful residence, to make their application on the basis of their private life in the UK. In order to demonstrate that they do in fact have a private life in the UK, they will have to have resided continuously in the UK for at least 20 years. The qualifying period has therefore increased by six years.
The other significant difference between the 14-year rule and the new rule for leave to remain on the basis of private life is the grant of stay. Under the rules currently in place, the applicant would, if successful, be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Under the proposed new rules, once the applicant shows that they have been in the United Kingdom for a continuous period of 20 years, they would then be granted an initial period of 30 months' leave to remain. At the end of the 30 months, they would have to apply three more times (each period of leave being for 30 months) before finally being eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The grant of settled status would therefore take them 10 years.
Under the current proposals, the route to settlement on the basis of long residence has more than doubled and is likely to have a significant impact on those who are yet to regularise their stay in the UK.