An applicant can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if he/she has continuously stayed in the UK for a period of 20 years, under the 20-year Private life and long residence rule.

An applicant need not be living lawfully, it just needs to be a 20-year continuous residence.

Requirements under the 20 years rule

The requirements under the 20 year-long residence UK are straightforward but strict. The applicant must meet the following prerequisites:

  1. The applicant must fulfil suitability grounds as per Appendix FM of the UK immigration
  2. The applicant must make a genuine  application
  3. The applicant must have resided continuously in the UK for 20 years and does need to give the Life in the UK test

Application process

An applicant who has lived in the UK continuously for 20 years in the  UK lawfully or not can apply for permission to live in the UK for 30 months under the Immigration Rules.

Paragraph 276-ADE of the Rules states that leave to remain may be granted to a long residence if he or she has lived continuously in the UK for;

  • at least 20 years; or
  • at least 7 years, when the applicant is under 18 years of age; or
  • at least half of his life when the applicant is aged between 18 and 25 years, or
  • less than 20 years if the applicant has no ties to the country to which he or she would have to go if required to leave the UK

In calculating the period of continuous residence, any period in prison is to be overlooked. A successful application leads to a grant of leave to remain for 30 months.

How can I initiate an extension?

An applicant who has been in the UK already on leave to remain which was initially granted for 30 months on the basis of 20 years long residence rule can apply for an extension of his leave to remain before 28 days prior to the expiry of his leave to remain. An application for renewal of such leave to remain must be made via application form FLR (FP)

Continuous Residence

The meaning of continuous residence is similar to the 10-year lawful residence rule. However, time spent in prison will not be considered as a discontinuity in continuous residence. Instead, time in prison will simply not be considered towards the period of residence. Time before and after imprisonment can be added to make up the entire amount of time.

Breaking the continuous residence

The continuous residence will be considered  broken if the applicant has:

  • been away from the UK for a period of more than six months at any one time, or is absent from the UK for a shorter period but does not have valid leave to enter the UK upon their return, or valid leave to remain on their departure from the UK
  • been  deported from the UK, or has left the UK after refusal of leave to enter or remain
  • left the UK border with a  clear intention not to return
  • left the UK under circumstances in which they could have no valid grounds of returning lawfully to the UK
  • been convicted of an offence and been given a sentence to be kept in a protective supervision under the law, or ordered to be confined in an institution run by the government other than a prison, such as a hospital or young offenders institute, without including suspended sentences
  • stayed a total of 18 months away from the UK throughout the entire 20-year period

Consult legal experts

It is critical to consider that you must be fully aware of the 10-year and 20-year residence rules before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You must take legal assistance. A Y & J Solicitors provide bespoke advice on all aspects of leave to remain and their advice has benefitted over 4000 clients in the past 10 years.

Stay Connect with our legal blog