The basis of long residence recognises the ties a person may form with the UK over a lengthy period of residence in the UK. The UK Immigration Rules have changed. In the past it was possible to grant long residence after a period of 14 years continuous residence. This provision was removed by changes to the Immigration Rules on 9th July 2012.

However, a person granted an extension of stay following an application made before 9th July 2012 can still be considered under the rules in force before that date. This means a person granted leave to remain on the basis of the 14 years residence in the UK can still be granted indefinite leave to remain once the requirements are made. It is strongly advisable to seek professional advice with regard to UK immigration law.

10 Years Residence Rule

Individuals who have been lawfully in the UK for 10 years continuously can apply for indefinite leave to remain. In addition, in order to make a successful application, there must be no reasons why granting leave is against the public good. In order to qualify under the 10 year route you must also have passed the Life in the UK test and speak English at level B1.

If you would like to understand further how to make this application, it is necessary to examine the various elements of this rule. These are looked at below.

1. What is 10 years long residence?

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.

2. What does continuous mean?

For the purposes of paragraph 276B, ‘continuous’ residence refers to residence in the UK for an unbroken period. Residence will be considered to be broken where the applicant is absent from the UK for a period of six months or more. Residence shall not be considered to be broken where the applicant is absent from the UK for a period of six months or less at any one time, provided that the applicant had leave to remain and leave to enter upon departure and return.

The exception to this rule is for those who departed the UK before 24th November 2016 after the expiry of their leave and who then applied for fresh entry clearance to the UK within 28 days of the expiration of their previous leave. In addition, an applicant falling under this exception must have returned to the UK within six months of the granting of entry clearance.

UK Immigration Rules state that continuous residence is not broken if an applicant receives a suspended sentence from a Court of Law. On the other hand, time spent in prison, a young offender institution or a secure hospital will break the period of continuous residence. Any leave accumulated before sentencing will be disregarded; only residence after release from custody will be counted as continuous residence

3. Absences during the 10 years

According to the Home Office policy, individuals cannot be absent from the UK for any period in excess of six months at once or 450 days in total. This said, at Danielle Cohen Solicitors we have experience in successfully asking the Home Office to exercise discretion over excess absences arising in compassionate circumstances.

4. What does lawful residence mean?

To succeed under the 10 year rule, the applicant must have been lawfully resident in the UK. In other words, the applicant must have been in the UK with existing leave to enter or remain, or have been on immigration bail or with temporary leave.

Paragraph 39(E) deals with short gaps in lawful residence after 24th November 2016. If an applicant made an application within 14 days of his or her leave expiring the Secretary of State may decide to disregard a period of over-staying. In doing so the Secretary of State can consider:

  • if there was a good reason beyond the applicant’s control for the period of overstay; or
  • if the application was made following a refusal of a previous application, and within 14 days of
    • the refusal of the previous application; or
    • the expiry of the leave as extended by section 3(c) of the Immigration Act 1971; or
    • within the expiry of the time limit for making an in-time application for administrative review; or
    • within 14 days of any administrative review or appeal being concluded, withdrawn or abandoned.

In addition, long residence guidance instructs a caseworker to consider exceptional circumstances when the period of overstaying is longer than 28 days and prior to 24th November 2016. There is no equivalent provision for after November 2016 for those who have overstayed longer than 14 days.

5. How early can you make the application?

The earliest you can make the application under the 10 year rule is 28 days before completing the qualifying period of 10 years. Please note that applications which are received more than 28 days before the applicant completes the required qualifying period for long residence must be refused. This is because the applicant has not completed the required period of leave in the UK. The UK Immigration Rules state that applicants who are refused under the Long Residence Rules, due to submitting their application too early, can reapply once they have completed their qualifying leave or, alternatively, up to 28 days before this.

The 14 Year Rule on Long Residence

The 14-year long residence rule was abolished in 2012 and it is no longer possible to make applications under this rule. The 14 year rule was replaced with the 20 year rule.
The 14 year rule was a type of amnesty rule because it was underpinned by a policy of allowing immigrants to stay in the UK because of human rights and family life.

20 Year Rule

The 20-year rule on long residence is contained in paragraphs 276ADE(i) and (iii) of the Immigration Rules. Under the 20 year rule a person does not have to have lived in the UK lawfully. Rather, they must have lived in the UK continuously over a period of 20 years.

6. What is continuous residence for the purpose of the 20 year rule?

The meaning of continuous residence for the purposes of the 20 year rule is the same as for the 10 year rule. However, unlike under the 10 year rule, under the 20 year route, a person does not have to be lawful in the UK to have continuous residence.

7. What are the requirements under the 20 years rule?

  • The applicant must not fail on suitability grounds
  • The applicant must make a valid application
  • The applicant must have lived continuously in the UK for 20 years

8. What are the suitability grounds?

An application can be refused on general grounds if there is evidence that the applicant’s background, behaviour, character, conduct or association show that they should not be permitted to remain in the UK. The basis of the general grounds of refusal is set out in paragraphs 320 and 322 of the Immigration Rules.

9. Do I qualify for a British passport when I get indefinite leave to remain?

You need to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen before you can obtain a British passport. If you are granted indefinite leave to remain on the basis of the 10 years of lawful residence you will have to wait a year from the date of the grant of the indefinite leave to remain in order to be able to apply for naturalisation.

In order to naturalise as a British citizen you also have to demonstrate that:

  • You have lived in the UK for five years;
  • You have indefinite leave to remain;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days in the five year qualifying period and not more than 90 days in the last year prior to making the application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have passed the Life in the UK Test;
  • You satisfy the English language requirement.

10. How do I apply on the basis of the 20 years route?

You must apply online but you also need to provide information and documents. The application form is FLR(FP)

Moreover, you will not need to pass the Life in the UK test or English test as you are not applying for indefinite leave to remain; you will have to remain in the UK for a further 10 years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

The biggest challenge for those who wish to apply under the 20 year rule is providing documentary evidence to demonstrate that you have lived in the UK throughout this time. At Danielle Cohen Solicitors we have the expertise and experience to be able to assist you with making these applications.

11. What leave do I get after 20 years?

The applicant will be granted leave to remain for a period of 30 months, in other words two and a half years. There is usually a no recourse to public funds condition attached to a grant of leave to remain.

A person has to live in the UK for 120 months – i.e. 10 years – before they can apply for settlement.

At the end of June 2022 two new guidances were issued. The newly emerged guidance on private life which came into force on 20th June 2022 and a new policy guidance on relationships with a partner relating to Appendix relationships with partner.

12. What is new?

Under the new guidance on private life, a new route allows children and certain young people who arrived in the UK as children to qualify for permission to stay on the basis of the private life and settle in the UK after five years with permission.  These are children who lived continuously in the UK for seven years and it would not be reasonable for them to leave. It also benefits young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who arrived in the UK as children and spent at least half their lives in the UK.  The children and young people will have a choice on the duration of the permission to stay and it can be granted for 30 or 60 months. Adults granted permission to stay under the private life rule can settle after 10 years continuous and permission will only be granted for 30 months.

13. Why the change?

This more generous route to settlement for children and young adults is in order to promote the welfare of children and it recognises that children do not make conscious choices themselves to move to the UK and should not be held responsible for any time spent in the UK without permission. The shorter five years route to settlement will provide the child or young adult with necessary certainty and security by bringing the waiting period in line with a normal period for settlement elsewhere in the Rules.

14. What periods will not count towards the 20 years rule?

An applicant who has made a protection asylum claim which has been declared inadmissible under part 11 of the Immigration Rules cannot count that period of time of being in the UK under the 20 years. Time spent in prison will not count towards the period of continuous residence and continuous residence will be broken if the applicant has been absent from the UK for more than six months at one time or a total of 550 days or more during the period of continuous residence or has been removed or deported, or having left the UK after an application to stay in the UK was refused.

15. Who can we help?

We are happy to help anyone who has achieved the lawful residence period under either the 10 or 20 year route. Please get in touch if you would like to speak to an expert about your application.

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