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Calculating Continuous Residence for a Settlement Application

Calculating continuous residence

At Freeths, the questions we are asked the most frequently by people applying for indefinite leave to remain are about the continuous residence requirement. This can be confusing and difficult to work out. It is vital that a person applying for indefinite leave to remain checks this requirement, as failure to meet it will result in an application being refused which will result in the loss of the fee and could leave to the person with no permission to live in the UK.

How to meet the continuous residence requirement

To qualify for indefinite leave to remain many immigration categories, including the Skilled Worker category, an applicant is required to have spent an unbroken continuous residence period of 5 years lawfully in the UK. This 5-year period is known as the qualifying period. This requirement also applies to an applicant who holds a dependant visa and who is applying for indefinite leave to remain.

Absences from the UK

As a general rule, the qualifying period will remain unbroken provided the applicant has not spent more than 180 days outside the UK any 12-months of the 5-year qualifying period.

For absences prior to 11 January 2018, the applicant must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days during any consecutive 12-month period, ending on the same date of the year as the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain is submitted.

If an applicant has more than 180 days absence in a relevant 12-month period, they should carefully check the exceptions which could mean that some or all their absences will be disregarded and not therefore count towards the 180-day limit.

Absences which will be disregarded when calculating continuous residence.

Time spent outside the UK for any period for any of the reasons below will not be counted towards the 180-day limit:

(a) the applicant was assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas, providing if on a sponsored route their sponsor agreed to the absence for that purpose; or

(b) travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic; or

(c) compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as the life-threatening illness of the applicant, or life-threatening illness or death of a close family member; or

(d) research activity undertaken by a Skilled Worker which was approved by their sponsor and where the applicant was sponsored for a job in one of the following occupation codes:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals; or

(e) research activity undertaken by a person on the Global Talent route who was endorsed by:

(i) The Royal Society; or

(ii) The British Academy; or

(iii) The Royal Academy of Engineering; or

(iv) UKRI; or

(f) research activity undertaken by a person on the Global Talent route who qualified on the basis of a relevant prize; or

(g) for an applicant under Appendix Settlement Family Life, absences for work, study or supporting family overseas, so long as the family have, throughout the period of absence, maintained a family life and the UK remained their place of permanent residence; or

(h) where the applicant’s partner is absent from the UK on Crown service as:

  • a member of HM Forces (as defined in the Armed Forces Act 2006); or
  • an employee of the UK Government, a Northern Ireland department, the Scottish Administration or the Welsh Government; or
  • a permanent member of the British Council, and the applicant accompanies them overseas.

Continuous residence for dependants

When an indefinite leave to remain application is made by a dependant, and the applicant’s partner or parent, on whom they are dependant, was absent for a reason listed above that period of absence will not count towards the 180- day limit when calculating the dependent’s continuous residence period.

The continuous residence requirement for dependants of those in several categories including Skilled Worker, was only introduced in January 2018. For this reason, absences of the dependant during a period of permission granted before 11 January 2018 will not be counted at all towards the 180- day limit when calculating the dependent applicant’s continuous residence period.

Breaking continuous residence

Continuous residence is broken in the following circumstances:

(a) the applicant is convicted of an offence and sentenced to a period of imprisonment; or

(b) the applicant is subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or exclusion direction; or

(c) the applicant is subject to removal directions; or

(d) the applicant does not, or did not have permission to stay, save for in certain circumstances.

Calculating the continuous residence period

The Home Office will calculate the continuous residence period by counting back from whichever of the following dates is the most beneficial to the applicant:

(a) the date of application; or

(b) any date up to 28 days after the date of application; or

(c) the date of decision; or

(d) for a person applying for settlement on the UK Ancestry route, the date of their last grant of permission.

Working out whether continuous lawful residence has been broken can be difficult. If you need any assistance with this, the team at Freeths can help.

How can Freeths help?

At Freeths, we know the UK immigration system inside out. Our team of immigration experts support you throughout your indefinite leave to remain application, to ensure a successful outcome.

If you would like to know more about applying for indefinite leave to remain, or need help with an application, please contact our team of immigration solicitors.

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