Absences from the UK for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can refer to two different scenarios. The first one regarding the rules for continuous periods in the UK when you are applying for ILR, and the second regarding absences from the UK once you have obtained ILR. Below we explore both topics.
Continuous lawful period in the UK
One of the key requirements for ILR is to have completed a period of continuous and lawful stay in the UK. Typically, this is a period of 5 years, but certain routes may be eligible for accelerated settlement (2 or 3 years).
In this case, ‘lawfully’ means that you cannot have stayed in the UK without valid leave to enter or remain, or a valid UK Visa.
While the period of stay must be ‘continuous’, there are some absences from the country which will not break this requirement. This is known as the ‘180 days rule’, meaning you may leave the country for a maximum of 180 days in a consecutive 12-month period.
Only whole days are counted for absences, so leaving for less than 24 hours will not be considered a full day.
If you are absent from the UK for more than 180 days, you may be required to justify that you had a compelling reason to do so, or you will have to wait longer until you accumulate the desired amount of continuous lawful stay.
Absences from the UK once you have ILR
Once you have been granted ILR, there are rules you must follow if you do not want to risk losing this status.
You may be away from the UK for a maximum period of 2 continuous years before you may lose your ILR status. If this is the case, you will need to renew your ILR through a Returning Resident Visa.
If you have obtained ILR through the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be absent for a maximum of 5 years (4 years if you are a Swiss citizen). If you lose your status, you will need to apply for a visa to return to the UK.
If you need assistance navigating all the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain, please get in touch. Our experienced team of lawyers will be able to guide you with unparalleled professionalism to give your case the best chance of success.