This guide will briefly explain the general requirements that must be met to apply for leave to remain based on 20 years residence. All requirements must be strictly met, otherwise the application will be refused.


Firstly, what is the 20 years long residence route?


The 20 years long residence route allows a foreign national to apply for permission to stay in the UK for 30 months if this person has lived in the UK for 20 years continuously, whether lawfully or unlawfully. This visa is granted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 as the right to respect for private and family life.


What are the requirements?


In order to qualify for 20 years long residence, you must satisfy a number of requirements. These requirements are as follows:


  • You have lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years, either legally or illegally.
  • There are no public interest (public good) reasons why it would be undesirable to grant you leave to remain in the UK.
  • You meet the suitability grounds which includes any period of imprisonment or time spent in prison.
  • You have not been absent from the UK and have not left the United Kingdom


Continuous Residence


The Definition of “continuous residence” is to show that you have been in the UK for the past 20 years without any gaps in residence.  Continuous residence is considered to be broken if the applicant has:


  • You have been absent from the UK for a period of more than six months at any one time, or absent from the UK for a shorter period but do not have valid leave to enter the UK on your return, or valid leave to remain on their departure from the UK.
  • You have been removed or deported from the UK, or have left the UK following the refusal of leave to enter or remain.
  • You have left the UK and by doing so, showed a clear intention not to return.
  • You left the UK under circumstances in which you could have no real chance of returning to the UK lawfully.
  • You have been convicted of an offence and been given a custodial sentence, or ordered to be detained in an institution other than a prison, such as a hospital or young offenders institute, not including suspended sentences.
  • You have spent a total of 18 months outside the UK throughout the whole 20-year period.




Before the application, you will need to provide your identification documents such as passport and biometric information, as well as supporting documents showing that you have actually lived in the UK for 20 continuous years.


Once you application has been submitted, you will need to book a biometric appointment so that you can attend a visa centre to submit your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo).  You will not be able to submit any further documents after your biometrics have been submitted and your application will be under consideration.


Presently, the Home Office can take up to 6 months from your biometric submission date to decide an application made for the first time unless there is a delay.


There is a number of reasons why an application can be delayed, but most commonly it can be failure to provide all the required documentation, and / or the need to attend an in-person interview. Doing everything right in your application increases the chances of the approval of your application within a short waiting time.


To help avoid such potential delays, please contact us to assist with your 20 years long residence applications, ensuring that avoidable delays, and refusals are dealt with at the application stage.


20 years long residence – what happens if it is granted?


Should your application be granted you will be granted limited leave to remain for a period of 2.5 years or a period of 30 months.

You will be eligible to live in the UK within this time. You will be able work without any restrictions and study in the UK.


20 years long residence – what happens if it is refused?


Where an applicant has had 20 years continuous residence in the UK, their application may only be refused on suitability grounds (generally on grounds of public good) or if their application is not valid (for example, they did not pay the correct fee).




A person who is already in the UK on leave to remain which was previously granted for 30 months on the basis of 20 years long residence can apply for renewal of his/her leave to remain 28 days prior to the expiry of their leave to remain.


Is fast track available?


Please note that super priority service is available in which you will get a decision the next working day. For applications made within the UK, the Home Office fee is £800.




You will need to make payment of the Home Office fee, Biometric fee, and Immigration Health Surcharge when your application to the Home Office is ready to submit. Presently, the fees are as follows:


Application Home office fee Biometric fee Immigration Health Surcharge
20 Years Long Residence £1,048 £19.20 £624 per year



Please note that when applying for entry clearance, the actual fee paid may be higher due to payment being processed in the local currency.


When can you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?


After you get the 20 years long residence, you will then be eligible to apply for ILR once you have accumulated a period of 120 months (i.e., 10 years) lawful residence. So, under the 20-year rule, it will be 30 years from entry to the UK before the person is eligible to apply for settlement.


Contact us today to start the 20 years long residence process.


At Lisa’s Law, we regularly assist in applying for 20 years long residence applications within the UK. We will advise and represent you throughout the process. Contact us today to start the process.


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