Will my application for indefinite leave to remain be affected if I am unable to travel back to the UK for several months?

16 Feb 2024, 05 mins ago

To apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) in the UK, you will usually be subject to meeting the ‘continuous residence’ requirement if you are on an investment, business or work-related settlement visa route.

The family migration routes are not subject to this ‘continuous residence’ requirement at the ILR stage, but you should continue to keep track of your absences if you intend to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen in the future.

This requirement means that you should not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month rolling period during the relevant qualifying period. This blog explores ‘exceptions’ for which the Home Office may exercise discretion if you exceed this limit.

There are various circumstances in which the Home Office will consider disregarding excessive absences and they are as follows:

  • Compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as a life-threatening illness of yourself or a family member – this is not limited to ‘life-threatening illnesses’ and each case will be assessed on its own merits;
  • If you were assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas;
  • Travel disruptions due to a natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic;
  • Research activities undertaken by a Skilled Worker which was approved by your sponsor and where your sponsored role falls within a specific occupation code;
  • Research activities undertaken by a person on the Global Talent route who qualified using a listed prize in Table 6 of the Appendix Global Talent, or who was endorsed by a particular endorsing body; and
  • If your partner works for the Crown Service and you accompany them overseas.

You must provide strong supporting documentation in support of your claims for exceptions to absences, as the Home Office will thoroughly assess these. They will use your evidence against publicly available and credible sources, so try to be as accurate as you can with the dates that you travelled outside of the UK. We would suggest creating a spreadsheet and noting down the dates, the reason and the country you visited for each trip outside of the UK – this should help you avoid any errors in your travel history.

In addition to absences from the UK, the Home Office will also consider periods where you have resided in the UK unlawfully (i.e. overstaying) as a break in your continuous residence. There are situations where the Home Office will disregard periods of overstaying, such as during the period between 24 January and 31 August 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Settlement under the Family visa route

Although you are not subject to a continuous residence requirement for ILR under this route, you will need to demonstrate that your family life and main residence remains in the UK, and a part of the equation for the Home Office to assess are your absences. If you were absent for work, study, or supporting family overseas, your period of absences will be maintained as long as the family have, throughout the period of absence, maintained their family life in the UK and the UK remained their place of residence.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on XFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2024