20 Years Long Residence Guidance UK

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20 Years Long Residence and Private Life in the UK

Are you a UK overstayer or unlawful immigrant who’s continuously lived in the country for at least 20 years? Would you like to end your cat and mouse game with the UK government and be recognized as a legal immigrant? The UK’s immigration Rule 276, or 20 Years Long Residence Rule, gets you covered.

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You can apply for limited leave or indefinite leave to remain through this legal provision, which is found in paragraph 276ADE of the immigration rules. However, we understand that dealing with the Home Office for any immigration application is normally an exercise that’s full of uncertainties and sometimes disappointment. 

On that note, we’ve prepared this comprehensive and easy-to-understand guide to show you what’s expected from you and what you need to do to succeed in the application process. With that said, let’s look at who qualifies, how to apply, and what is required for 20 years long residence.

What Does the 20 Years Long Residence Rule has to offer?

Well, if you’ve been in the UK for long and you’d like to extend your stay lawfully, you can get 30 more months to stay in the country lawfully under the Residence Rule. The extended stay is classified as limited leave to remain. 

If your 30-month limited leave to remain is about to lapse, you can apply to renew the leave if you wish to continue living in the UK. This second application should be made at least 28 days before the expiry date of the initial leave by filling in the application form FLR (FP).

Under the 20 year rule, you need to obtain successive extensions of stay for a ten year period, during which time your leave to remain here will be discretionary, until such time as you have completed ten years under this route, after which you can apply for permanent residence, that is to say, settlement. So it could be 30 years from the date of the initial grant of leave to remain for a 30 month period before you are able to apply for permanent residence after you have completed ten years under the status.

Who Qualifies for the 20 Years Long Residence Rule?

Any UK overstayer or immigrant with legal status who has lived in the UK continuously for at least 20 years can benefit from the  20 years long residence rule. However, if an overstayer is imprisoned while in the country, the imprisonment period is not included in the total duration of their stay in the country, as far as the 20 Years Long Residence Rule is concerned. The 20-year period calculation is paused once an individual is imprisoned and continues from where the imprisonment ends. 

On that note, the requirements for Rule 276 include: 

  • Meeting the good character requirements. 
  • A valid limited leave or indefinite leave to remain application 
  • 20 years of continuous residence in the United Kingdom legally or illegally.
  • Be at least 25 years old.

What Does 20 Years of Continuous Residence Mean?

According to paragraph 276ADE, 20 years of continuous residence in the UK means that a UK immigrant has stayed in the country for 20 continuous years without going past the boundaries of the country. Nevertheless, if the applicant is imprisoned at some point within the 20 years, the imprisonment doesn’t break the continuity of the stay. However, the years spent in prison will not be included in the 20-year count. 

What Can Break Continuous Residence?

The 20 years of continuous residence can be broken under specific circumstances, including: 

  • If the applicant has been out of the UK for a total of 18 months within the 20 years of their stay in the country. 
  • If the applicant has been out of the UK for less than six months and fails to have valid leave to enter the UK when returning or valid leave to remain when leaving the country. 
  • Incidence of deportation from the UK within the 20 years of their stay in the country. 
  • If the applicant leaves the UK under circumstances that prevent them from returning to the country lawfully. 
  • If the applicant has been given a custodial sentence or detained in a non-prison institution (for instance, Young Offender Institution) after being convicted of an offence. 

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How to Apply for Permission to Stay in the UK Under 20 Years Long Residence?

If you meet the above requirements, you’re possibly wondering what you need to do to submit your initial UK residence application through Rule 276.

Well, here are the steps you’re required to take to submit your application for 20 Years Long Residence to the Home Office

  • Contact our team of immigration solicitors
  • Consult them on your individual application
  • Provide your identification documents such as passport and biometric information
  • Provide supporting documents showing that you’ve actually lived in the UK for 20 continuous years. 
  • In case you’re invited for an interview, practice interview techniques with our legal team so that you are prepared.
  • Show up on the day and respond to the interviewers confidently and truthfully. 

Does the Application Process Need Any Documentation?

To support your application with verifiable evidence, you need to attach numerous documents, including:

  • Bank statements
  • Documents showing your housing or accommodation history in the country, for instance, tenancy agreement copies 
  • Documents showing your work or employment information, for instance, payslips, employment contracts and work offer letters from employers. Although you are not supposed to be working if you are here illegally or as an overstayer, those who do work show a connection with the UK and evidence that they are here, and that evidence can be counted towards the 20-year residence. Furthermore, the courts appear to accept that someone who has been in the country for a long time can work even with identification documents that do not belong to them, such as false IDs that they have acquired throughout the years, provided that they have not at any stage misled the Home Office as to their true identity in the past, in any applications that they may have made, before the application based on 20 years residence.

How Long Does the 20 Year Long Residence Application Take to be determined?

Considering that the Home Office has a lot of immigration applications to take care of, you will not know the fate of your application immediately when you submit your application. You have to wait for about six months. The waiting period could be shorter or longer sometimes, depending on the backlog the immigration department is dealing with. Doing everything right in your application increases the chances of the approval of your application within a short waiting time. 

Just like any other UK immigration application, applying for limited leave or indefinite leave to remain in the UK through the 20 Year Long Residence Rule can be a hectic process. However, it can be an exciting experience when you have experts doing all the complex work for you in the process. At Gulbenkian Andonian, we have highly experienced and caring  UK Immigration Solicitors who are happy to offer you more customized 20 Years Long Residence guidance for your application at any time. Reach us today for a consultation session to discuss your UK immigration issue in detail. 

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Whether it is about a complex or straightforward UK immigration issue, buying or selling a property, divorce, employment, corporate matters, making a will, notary services or discussing any legal issue of your choice – Gulbenkian Andonian is here to help!

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    Neither Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors ltd, nor their employees, agents, consultants or assignees, accept any liability based on the contents of written articles which are meant for guidance only and not as legal advice. We advise all readers to take professional advice before acting. If you would like to consult with a professional lawyer or solicitor to discuss your case, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.