Immigration – Long Residence

What is Long Residence?

You can apply to settle in the UK if you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years (known as ‘long residence’). If successful, there is no time limit on your ability to stay in the UK.

The rules on long residence recognise the ties a person may form with the UK over a lengthy period of residence in the UK.

What criteria must you meet to be eligible for Long Residence?

The criteria to be met to qualify for long residence are as follows:

  • You must have at least 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK
  • There must be no reason why granting leave is against the public interest
  • You must have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • You must have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK and have passed the ‘Life in the UK Test’ (you have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and must score 75%)
  • You must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal
  • You must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws

Is there a specific period of time which you must have been in the UK to qualify for Long Residence?

Settlement can be granted after a period of 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK.

Once you have built up a period of 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK, there is no limit on the length of time afterwards when you can apply. This means that you could leave the UK, re-enter on any lawful basis, and apply for settlement from within the UK based on a 10 year period of continuous lawful residence which you built up in the past.

Which UK visa categories contribute towards the 10 years continuous period?

All UK visa categories which provided you with leave to enter or remain in the UK can be combined towards the 10 years continuous period including any time spent in the UK whilst exempt from immigration control. Time spent in the UK during the 10 years continuous period does not have to be in the same category.

For example, you could apply for long residence based on 4 years spent in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student followed by 4 years spent in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant followed by a subsequent 2 years spent in the UK as a Spouse of a British citizen.

For time spent in the UK under the EEA Regulations, the Home Office must apply discretion and count time spent in the UK as lawful residence for an EU or EEA national or their family members exercising their treaty rights to reside in the UK.

Are there absence requirements for applying for Long Residence?

Continuous residence is considered to be broken if you have:

  • Been absent from the UK for a period of more than 6 months (180 days) at any one time
  • Spent a total of 18 months (540 days) outside of the UK throughout the whole 10 year period
  • Left the UK before 24 November 2016 with no valid leave to remain on your departure from the UK, and failed to apply for entry clearance within 28 days of your previous leave expiring (even if you returned to the UK within 6 months)

If you have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months in one period or more than 18 months in total, the application should normally be refused. However, it may be appropriate to exercise discretion over excess absences in compelling or compassionate circumstances, for example where you were prevented from returning to the UK through unavoidable circumstances.

What is the public interest requirement?

On most occasions, a person who meets the requirements for long residence should be granted indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence. This is unless a grant is against the public interest.

The Home Office must consider whether there are any reasons why it would be undesirable on public interest grounds to grant indefinite leave. In considering this, it is taken into account your:

  • Age
  • Strength of connections in the UK
  • Personal history, including character, conduct, associations and employment record
  • Domestic circumstances
  • Compassionate circumstances
  • Any representations on your behalf

How long is indefinite leave on the basis of long residence valid for?

If successful, you will be granted indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence which by its very definition is valid indefinitely.

However, if you stay outside of the UK for 2 or more years at a time your indefinite leave to remain will lapse and you will need to apply for a ‘Returning Resident’ visa before coming back to live in the UK.

What are the benefits of having indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence?

You are free to work in the UK in any business, profession or employment, including self-employment. You are also free to study in the UK and generally, healthcare is available free.

How can Setfords help you?

For further information please get in touch below.

Discuss your Long Residence application with our Immigration Experts now

Nicola Anne Wilkins

Consultant Solicitor – UK Immigration Law


Direct dial: 020 8103 2006
Head office: 0330 058 4012 then dial ext 2752
Email: nwilkins@setfords.co.uk
Form: Complete form now
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Quotes from previous clients

“Nicola assisted me with my Indefinite Leave to Remain application for the UK and provided a full service from start to finish. Nicola not only assisted with my application but additionally partnered with my employer to ensure that all paperwork was accurate and provided in a timely manner. I was so impressed with Nicola’s professionalism that I will be using Nicola’s services for my British citizenship application when I am eligible”.

“Nicola advised on and prepared the Indefinite Leave to Remain applications for the UK for myself and my family members. Nicola displayed an excellent understanding of the process and a very high level of professionalism at all times. She considered every detail of the applications and ensured that all aspects of the applications were meticulously covered. She additionally ensured that all documentation was in strict compliance with the Home Office’s requirements. The process was completed seamlessly and successfully and our applications were approved in a very timely manner. I recommend Nicola’s immigration legal services without hesitation”.