Absences from the UK in ILR applications
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How continuous residence is assessed
When applying for ILR from most work-related immigration routes, you have to demonstrate that your absences from the UK have not exceed 180 days in any consecutive 12 months in the qualifying period preceding the application.
This rule is called “continuous residence”.
The qualifying period is usually five years (skilled worker route, scale-up worker, ancestry visa, representative of an overseas business), but may be three years (Global Talent route, innovator) or ten years (if relying on long-residence).
The rule on calculating continuous residence changed on 11 January 2018 and absences during the terms of visas or permissions to remain granted before this date are assessed differently – only in relation to a 12-month period ending on the same date of the year as the date of the application.
For example, if you were granted a Tier 2 general visa on 1 March 2017 for three years and then an extension of the visa on 1 April 2020, and you make an application for ILR on 1 May 2022 your absences 1 April 2020 are calculated retrospective with reference to the following 12-month periods: 1 April 2020 to 1 May 2019, 1 May 2019 to 1 May 2018, 1 May 2018 to 1 May 2017. And in relation to the period after 1 April 2020 you have to make sure that there were no absences of more than 180 days in any 12 month period, without any specific reference point.
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 by Skilled Workers sponsored in various science professions and higher education teaching professionals where their absence was approved by the sponsor.
Research activities of persons on the Global Talent route may be disregarded depending on the endorsing body which authorised their application. Those who qualified for the Global Talent route as holders of Prestigious Prizes are also free to undertake research activities overseas without jeopardising continuity of residence.
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 after this date are disregarded as long as 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 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.
Applicants under Appendix FM – 5-year route
Continuous residence requirement does not extend to partners of UK citizens applying for indefinite leave to remain on completion of the qualifying five-year 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.
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 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 November 17, 2022
Last updated on November 17, 2021