After living anywhere for an extended period of time, immersing yourself in the surroundings and carving out a place for yourself the community, you will begin to think of that place as your home. It is with this in mind that the Home Office offers the 10 year continuous residency route to indefinite leave to remain in the UK.


Who qualifies?


As the name suggests, migrants who have accumulated ten years continuous lawful residence in the UK, under any combination of UK visas, may qualify for ILR on 10 years basis.


However, there are strict rules on what constitutes a continuous and lawful residency in the UK, and with a 10 year timeline attached to this visa, it can be easy to break some of the rules even if it is unintentional.


The meaning of continuous lawful residency:


Applicants will only have fulfilled the requirements if they have…


  • Not been out of the UK for more than 18 months (540 days in total) during the 10 year period.
  • Maintained valid leave to remain status under any immigration category for the entire period.
  • Not been out of the UK for more than 6 months on any one occasion during the 10 year period.
  • Not left the UK within the relevant period having been refused leave to enter or remain.
  • Not been removed or deported from the UK during the 10 year period.



You can still qualify if you:


  • Have spent less than 6 months outside the UK at any one time during the 10 years residency in the UK.


  • Had existing leave to remain when both exiting and re-entering the UK.



Is there any leeway?


It is not uncommon for applicants to have exceeded the 540 days of absence from the UK over the 10 year period. So, if this is the case with you it may not be the end of the road as discretion can be used by the Home Office.


  • It will be taken into consideration when the bulk of these absences took place. The closer the absence to the end of 10 year period, the less likely the discretion to be exercised for your ILR application. In other words, it’s better if these absences took place a long time ago.
  • If the absences were recent, the person will not qualify for a long time, and so you must consider whether there are particularly compelling/compassionate reasons. Compelling reasons mean when an applicant was prevented from returning to the UK through unavoidable circumstances.


Prisons and institutions


Continuous residence is broken and the time spent is not counted if an applicant receives a custodial sentence by a court of law and is sent to:

  • prison
  • a young offender institution
  • a secure hospital


Temporary admission counts!


Temporary admission or release or immigration bail qualifies as lawful residence when leave to enter or leave to remain is later granted. For example, if an applicant is granted leave following a period of temporary admission, the time on temporary admission counts as lawful residence.


If you are not too sure about when temporary admission counts as lawful residence, you can see some examples here (example 4 from the long residence guidance). Or, you can ask for legal advice from us directly!



When is a good time to apply?


The application for 10 year ILR should be made before your current leave to remain expires. You also cannot apply more than 28 days before you fully complete the 10 year continuous residency requirement.


It is important to know where to start counting your time in the UK from, if you apply with an incorrect start date you will be refused and will not be refunded.


Your official 10 year period starts from the visa date on which you entered the UK or the date you were granted permission to remain in the UK (if you didn’t enter the UK on a visa).



How long does it take?


The time taken to complete the application process and receive your result will vary from case to case. However, it usually take around 6 months for a decision to be made on an application. This is unless you want to pay for the Super Priority service for an extra £800, which will greatly increase the speed at which your case is dealt with (usually to only 1 or 2 working days).

Priority service update:


Note: There is now only a limited amount of spaces per day for priority service, this means that not everyone who applies for it will get it and some people may have to reapply for it on a different day.



What documents do you need to have?


There may be some case specific variation here, but the below documents should form the base for you application:


  • Your current Passport or other valid travel ID (old passports you’ve had since you’ve been in the UK are helpful as well)
  • BRP (biometric residence permit ), if you hold one
  • Two identical passport size colour photographs
  • Police registration certificate, if you have one
  • Other supporting documents with the application (bank statements, other travel documents if you have them etc.)


Contact us!


We are ready and well equipped to handle your case, with specialist solicitors just a phone call away, so feel free to call us on 020 7928 0276 or email into if you need any legal advice.


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Reference list:

Long Residency UKGOV guidance:

Apply to settle in the UK: Long Residency

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