Securing legal residency after two decades of living in the UK under uncertain circumstances can seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, for many individuals who have built their lives in the country despite their unlawful status, obtaining a visa can become a reality with the right approach and supporting documentation. In this article, we outline what is needed to support a 20 years long residence application, as well as a case study involving a couple we helped in this application.



The Journey to Legal Residency


 For individuals who have resided unlawfully in the UK for an extended period, the pathway to legal residency often begins with understanding the eligibility criteria for the 20 years unlawful residence visa. This visa category allows individuals who have lived continuously in the UK for 20 years or more to apply for legal status, provided they meet certain requirements under the immigration rule.


Supporting Documents Needed


Proof of Continuous Residence


One of the primary requirements for the Long Residence Visa is evidence of continuous residence in the UK for the entire 20-year period. This can include rental agreements, utility bills, bank statements, and employment records spanning the two decades.


Financial Records


Applicants must demonstrate their ability to support themselves financially without recourse to public funds. This necessitates providing evidence of stable employment, income tax records, and bank statements to prove financial stability.


Character References


Character references from reputable individuals in the community can strengthen the applicant’s case by attesting to their good moral character and contributions to society during their time in the UK.


Life Establishment in the UK


Documentation illustrating the applicant’s integration into UK society, such as enrolment in educational institutions, membership in community organizations, or participation in cultural events, can further bolster their application.


Medical Records


Close up of female doctor filling out medical records


Applicants may need to provide medical records to demonstrate any ongoing medical conditions or treatment received during their time in the UK, highlighting their ties to the country’s healthcare system.


Successful Lisa’s Law Case Study 


This successful story involves a couple who approached Lisa’s Law seeking professional legal advice on whether they could regularise their stay after over 20 years of unlawful residency in the UK. After being caught by the immigration authority and detained, they found themselves in a precarious situation after overstaying their visa in the UK.


Despite their initial apprehensions, the couple embarked on the journey of regularising their status through the 20 years long residence visa route. With the guidance of our immigration experts at Lisa’s Law, we helped with thorough preparation of supporting documents and drafted legal submissions to the Home Office. The couple successfully submitted their application after 20 years of living in the UK on 27 July 2023. They were subsequently granted leave to remain in the UK on 02 February 2024 under the private life route.


Securing legal residency in the UK after 20 years of unlawful residence is undoubtedly a challenging endeavour. However, with the guidance from Lisa’s Law’s professional immigration caseworkers, along with the right documentation, many individuals like the couple above can navigate this process successfully, paving the way for a brighter and more secure future in the country they call home.


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