absences - ilr applications

Absences from the UK in ILR applications

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What is continuous residence

In most immigration routes, one of the requirements for indefinite leave to remain is to show that you have been continuously resident in the UK for a required period of time.

The qualifying period for ILR in the majority of immigration categories (skilled worker route, scale-up worker, ancestry visa, representative of an overseas business) is five years.  It can also be three years if you are relying on accelerated settlement under the Global Talent or the Innovator route or ten years, if you are relying on the long-residence route, private life or any of the 10-year routes under Appendix FM.

Continuous residence is assessed on the basis of your absences from the UK during the qualifying period.

How continuous residence is assessed

To meet the continuous residence requirement, your absences from the UK should not exceed 180 days in any consecutive 12 months during the qualifying period preceding the application.

The absences were assessed differently for visas granted before January 2018, but this is not of relevance any more since no visas were granted for a period exceeding 5 years.

If you are relying on long residence, permitted absences are limited to 540 days during the entire 10-year period. Absences of six months or longer interrupt continuity, but you don’t need to be concerned about cumulative absences in any 12-month period, provided total absences did not exceed 540 days.

Disregarded absences

Absences from the UK due to the pandemic or a natural disaster are disregarded. And so are absences due to compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as life-threatening illness or death of a close family member.

Also disregarded are absences for research activity by Skilled Workers sponsored for a job in one of the following occupation codes:

2111 Chemical scientists

2112 Biological scientists and biochemists

2113 Physical scientists

2114 Social and humanities scientists

2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified

2150 Research and development managers

2311 Higher education teaching professionals

if such absences were approved by the sponsor.

Absences for research activities by holders of the Global Talent visa in Research or Academia do not count toward the 180 day limit. 

Absences for research activities (but not for other projects or engagements) are disregarded for the Global Talent visa holders if they qualified as winners of Prestigious Prizes.

Absences for research activities are only disregarded for the main visa holder. The dependent partner would not get a concession for accompanying the main visa holder outside the UK.

If you are applying for settlement under Appendix Settlement Family Life (on completing 10 years as a partner or parent under Appendix FM) absences before 20 June 2022 do not count. Absences after this date may be disregarded if they are for work, study or supporting family overseas and you maintain your main home and family life in the UK.

Continuous residence is not interrupted if the applicant’s partner is a member of HM Forces, an an employee of the UK Government, or a permanent member of the British Council and the applicant accompanies them overseas.

Time spent lawfully in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man is treated as time spent in the UK provided the most recent grant of visa or permission to stay was in the UK.

Continuous residence under Appendix FM – 5-year partner or parent route

Continuous residence requirement does not apply to partners of UK citizens who have completed the qualifying five-year residence period.

These applicants have to demonstrate an intention to live permanently in the UK and their past absences are weighted in this assessment. It is always advisable to explain the reasons for any prolonged absences exceeding six months. It is unlikely that the Home Office would refuse the application for ILR on the basis of extended absences but this may happen if the Home Office decides that you are not living in the UK but only occasionally visiting the country.

Continuous residence for dependants of other migrants

Dependent partner of a Skilled Worker or Scale-Up Worker has to meet continuous residence requirement during the five years with permission to remain as a dependent of the main visa holder. There is no continuous residence requirement for children. However, the child’s entitlement will be contemporaneous with the second parent.

For dependants of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa holder, Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator, the absences are not taken into account for any stretch of visa or leave to remain granted under the rules in place before 11 January 2018. Standard continuous residence rules apply for any period of leave granted where the application was made after this date.

Dependants of UK ancestry visa holders and of representatives of an overseas business do not have to meet the continuous residence requirement and can apply for ILR at the same time as the main applicant.


Last updated on 12 July 2023

Last updated on 12 July 2023

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