Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Cathryn Davies Updated:

Settle in the UK on the Basis of Long Continuous Residence

You may be able to apply for permanent residency on the basis of ‘continuous residence’ if you have lived in the UK for a certain number of years without any gaps. Our solicitors can help you assess if you are eligible for this type of settlement and help you apply with confidence.

If you are looking to permanently settle in the UK and you have been lawfully living here for at least ten years then the continuous residence route is likely your best option.

Assessing if You Can Apply

To be able to apply for long continuous residence you must have been lawfully living in the UK for a continuous period of at least ten years. That means any time you have spend in the UK unlawfully, does not count. Unlawful stay in the UK could include for example the time you have stayed here without permission or the time you spend in a UK prison.

If some of the time you spend in the UK would be considered ‘unlawful’, settlement on the basis of long continuous residence may still be a possibility for you. However, you must in that case have been in the UK for a period of at least 20 years.

You should not have left the UK for a longer period of time during the qualifying period, as your residence would no longer be considered ‘continuous’. A gap that would break up your continuous residence would be a period of 180 days or more.

Our solicitors can assess your personal circumstances and help you decide if the continuous residence route is best for you. It may not be, but don’t worry. We will find out which options are available to you before helping you on your way to permanent residence.

The 10-Year Rule

Once you’ve lived in the UK for 10 years or more you may become eligible to settle permanently under what is sometimes called the 10-year rule.

Our solicitors have lots of experience helping clients achieve long residence settlement status under the 10 years long residence rule, and they can help you too.

The 20-Year Rule

You can also apply for a settlement visa after 20 years of long continuous residence.

Unlike the 10-year rule, the 20-year long residence rule lets you apply even if some or all of that time was spent here unlawfully.

If you are uncertain of your legal status, or that of a family member, speak to our team. We can provide confidential expert advice on your rights.

General Requirements

To be eligible for long continuous residence, you must have been in the UK legally for 10 years and kept to the terms of your UK visa.

Your 10-year qualifying period either starts from when you arrived in the UK with a visa or when you were given permission to stay in the UK.

You can leave the UK during the continuous residence for up to:

  • 180 Days at a time, and
  • 540 Days in total

If you’re aged between 18 and 64 you also need to meet the two parts of the ‘Knowledge of Language and Life’ (KOLL) requirement.

You can do this by:

  • Passing the Life in the UK test
  • Passing a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 level or above of the ‘Common European Framework of Reference’ for languages (CEFR). This is included on the list of recognised English test qualifications from an approved test centre
  • Holding a degree that was taught or researched in English
  • Being a national of an English-speaking country

Documents You Need to Provide

You need to provide the following documents as part of your application:

  • A current and valid travel document or passport
  • One passport sized colour photograph
  • Evidence of your permission to be in the country
  • All previous passports
  • Tuberculosis (TB) certificate (where applicable)
  • Evidence of your current employment or studies
  • A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)
  • Bank statements
  • Bank letter or balance certificate
  • Payslips
  • Details of the accommodation
  • Your police registration certificate (if you have one)

When to Apply

If you want to apply for settlement on the basis of continuous residence you should do so before the end of your permitted stay in the UK.

There is a qualifying period to complete a long residence application and it runs either from:

  • The date on which you entered the UK with a visa
  • The date on which you were first granted permission to remain in the UK

If you entered the UK with a visa after the date from which it was valid for use, you may need to apply for an extension to complete your qualifying period. You can’t apply more than 28 days before completing your qualifying period.

Residency Time That is Not Included

In calculating your continuous residency under the 10-year rule, you can’t count time spent in:

  • Prison
  • A young offenders institution
  • A secure hospital
  • The Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man or Channel Islands

After Time in Prison

If you’ve been in prison you can no longer apply for settlement under the 10-year continuous residence rule. However, you can still apply under the 20-year residence rule.

Any time you’ve spent in prison would simply not be counted towards the minimum qualifying period. The time before and after the prison sentence would be added together.

Applying in this way will result in a different kind of settlement. You would likely be granted ‘limited leave to remain’, which is valid for 30 months and holds multiple restrictions.

Time in prison, a criminal record and any kind of history of overstaying a visa or settlement application can all affect the Home Office’s decision. Our immigration solicitors understand exactly how your previous crimes might affect the outcome of your application. If you would like impartial advice on the best approach to take, get in touch with our team.

Expert Immigration Advice

If you are applying for settlement after 10 or 20 years long residence, you may require support and guidance to give you the best chance of a successful application.

Long residence settlement applications are complex and can take time. They require a wealth of evidence and documents that in some cases could be decades old.

Our immigration solicitors will be by your side through the application process, with all the expert advice and guidance you need. Get in touch with our team to find out if you’re eligible to apply for a settlement visa.

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