This article was written by our legal advisor, Zeyu Huang. 


We have recently been successful in an application of indefinite leave to remain on the 10-year long residence route. Settlement status was granted despite nearly 1200 days spent outside the UK.


Our client made an application based on exceptional circumstances outside the immigration rules.




Our client arrived in the UK on a child student visa in 2011 and started to receive a British education from the age of 14. She enjoyed a smooth transition to British life until the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020. Like lots of international students during the pandemic, she came back to China to stay with her family. Our client then returned to the UK in February 2022 via a new student visa following the UK’s large decline in Covid-19 cases.


Our client’s absence from the UK totals 1149 days, with the last absence being a total of 684 days during the Covid-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2022.


We made the application for our client on the basis of 10-year lawful residence outside of the rules on absence for settlement. Absence for settlement requires up to 540 days in total and 180 days for a single absence.


The application


In our legal representation letter, our core submissions were as follows:


1. We argued that our client’s last absence period in China totalling 684 days should be regarded as an exceptional circumstance. Our argument also focused on the strict circuit breakers between China and the UK implemented by China during the pandemic, demonstrating the rationality of this 684-day absence from the UK.


2. We argued for our client on the grounds of her private life established in the UK from the past decade. Our client has been in the UK since childhood, receiving a British education and forming social networks with people, something proven by her graduate certificates, social events and her own property in London.


The approved decision was received the next day of providing our client’s biometric information, as our client chose the priority service.


Our comments


This successful application of settlement is of great significant to our client and her family. If it was rejected by the Home Office, it would lead to a seriously adverse impact on both the life of our client established in the UK, as well as the devotion and support from her family back in China.


We are very pleased with the result, as our client has been granted settlement on the 10 year long residence route after her absence from the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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