What is wrong with the 20 years rule

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
19 July 2020

Before July 2012 those who have been in the UK for 14 years in a mixture of lawful and unlawful residence, could apply for indefinite leave to remain.  However, all that has changed and the 14 years rule has been extended to 20 years.  A person who has lived in the UK continuously for 20 years can apply for limited leave to remain and receive two and a half years leave to remain under paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules. He or she would not get indefinite leave to remain, but rather will have to accumulate an additional 10 years of lawful residence before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. That person will have limited leave to remain in a country that they made their home for 30 years!

The status under the 20 years rule is limited to 30 months and usually with the condition of no recourse to public funds. The requirement to extend your leave every two and a half years is not only a financial burden but also may prevent individuals from obtaining mortgages and most importantly from being able to sponsor family members to join them in the UK, such as a husband or wife. The inability to settle down after 20 years in the United Kingdom has a destabilising and financially crippling effect. We take a particularly dim view of the imposition of 10 years residence on a person who already managed to satisfy the Home Office that there are insurmountable obstacles to integration back into their country of origin under the Immigration Rule 276 ADE.

We are acting on behalf clients who were granted limited leave to remain under the 20 years rule and wish to bring their spouses to the UK. The fact that they are subjected to limited leave to remain for 10 years prevents them from being able to sponsor their loved ones to come and join them. They run the risk that the Home Office will argue that they can now relocate back to their country of origin, given that they have a family life there. We all know that romantic attachment is not the same as being able to integrate back into the life of a country.

We are therefore making applications outside the Rules for family members to join those people, arguing that not to allow it would amount to a disproportionate interference with the right to private and family life of all those involved and who made the UK their home.