Non-EEA nationals who have acquired indefinite leave to remain in the UK must apply for a returning resident visa if they have been outside the UK for two consecutive years. A returning resident visa application must be submitted from outside the UK and without a returning resident visa stamp, it is likely you will be refused entry on arrival. It is also possible to apply for a returning resident visa if you have been absent for less than two years as a short absence can lead to the revocation of indefinite leave to remain depending on the circumstances behind the absence.
What is the Returning Resident visa?
The returning resident visa allows non-EEA nationals who hold indefinite leave to remain to return to the UK after spending two years away. Whilst it is true that indefinite leave to remain holders are no longer subject to immigration controls and there is no time restriction to how long they can reside in the UK, there are conditions attached to the indefinite leave to remain which must be complied with. One of the conditions imposed on indefinite leave to remain holders is that they must not spend more than two consecutive years outside the UK.
Do I need to apply for a Returning Resident visa?
A person who has been outside the UK for a period less than two years may not need to apply for a returning resident visa when returning to the UK to settle but legal advice should be obtained prior to making travel arrangements. In circumstances where an absence is less than two years border force officers will carry out an assessment on arrival. The assessment will be carried out in accordance with paragraph 18 of the Immigration Rules. A person may resume their residence in the UK if the border force officers are satisfied that the person concerned:
- Had indefinite leave to remain in the UK when he last left;
- Had not been away from the UK for more than 2 years;
- Did not receive public funding towards leaving the UK; and
- Now seeks entry with the intention to settle.
In theory, those who meet the above requirements do not need a visa to enter the UK but it is possible to apply for a returning resident visa. By applying for the visa you will have peace of mind and you will be eliminating your chances of being refused entry.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Returning Resident visa?
If you have been absent for more than 2 years from the UK you must apply for a returning resident visa otherwise you will be refused entry. You will need to meet the following requirements:
- Had indefinite leave to remain in the UK when he last left;
- Did not receive public funding towards leaving the UK;
- Now seeks entry with the intention to settle; and
- There are good reasons for you to be granted entry as a returning resident.
The following points could constitute as good reason and strengthen your returning resident visa application:
- Strong family ties and connections to the UK – i.e. if you have a spouse, children or other immediate family members in the UK. The Home Office would expect to see that those ties have been maintained during the absence via regular communication or visits; or
- Strong private ties connections to the UK – i.e. if you have business or properties in the UK or have spent a large number of years in the UK. Private ties could also be built up on the grounds of long residence in the UK – i.e. if you have 12 of the last 15 years in the UK. It would be unfair for the Home Office to refuse you entry to the UK and it may consider as a breach of Article 8 of ECHR.
Your application may be strengthened if you can show that you have visited the UK during your two year period abroad. This would depend on the timing and type of visit.
The Home office will also consider the nature of your absence and whether there are exceptional and compelling circumstances behind your absence. The following points may be considered as exceptional or compelling; to access health treatment or to visit ill family members. It should be noted this is not a fixed list and it is subjective to what constitutes as compelling and exceptional. The nature of your circumstances before departing the UK will also be considered as well as reasons for wishing to return. It is important your returning resident visa applications show a clear intention of settling in the UK.
If your application is refused you will be given a statutory right of appeal if it concerns your human rights.
If you meet the requirements in the “Windrush Scheme” and you have lost your indefinite leave to remain on the grounds excessive absence from the UK you may be eligible to apply for returning resident visa free of charge.
Using Legal Representation to Prepare a Returning Resident visa application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a returning resident visa application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your returning resident visa application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your returning resident visa application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful Returning Resident visa application
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your returning resident visa application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your returning resident visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to a successful returning resident visa application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your returning resident visa application.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.