If you have developed a ‘private life’ in the UK, whether as a child, young adult, or adult, it may be possible to make a successful application for a Private Life visa. In this article, we will explain what you need to know about the ‘Private Life in the UK’ immigration route, including who this route is for, the eligibility criteria, how to apply, and what to do if your application is refused.
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What is the UK Private Life visa?
The ‘Private Life in the UK’ route provides a way for those who can demonstrate that they have developed a ‘private life’ in the UK to remain and ultimately gain permanent settlement here. The right to family and private life originates from Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act of 1998. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states that
- Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home, and his correspondence.
- There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” .t is important to note that Article 8 continues to exist following the UK’s departure from the European Union (Brexit).
The Private Life route is open to foreign nationals living in the UK who:
- Are children aged under 18, have lived in the UK continuously for at least 7 years, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to leave the UK.
- Are adults between 18 and 24 and have resided continuously in the UK for more than half of their life
- Are adults of 18 or over who have spent less than 20 years in the UK and would have major problems living elsewhere
- Have been in the UK continuously for 20 years, or
- Were born in the UK to a parent with permission to remain in the UK on the basis of their private life (or is applying for such permission).
How to Apply for a Private Life Visa
The application process for the UK Private Life family visa can be completed online. The evidence you will need to provide to support your application will depend on the basis of your Private Life application. You may need to provide your passport, birth certificate, marriage/civil partnership certificate, parent’s birth certificate/s, or a letter from your employer or education provider.
What is most important is that you can prove that you have lived in the UK for the required amount of continuous time and this includes time spent in the UK, whether this was with permission or not.
Applications for family visas can take up to 24 weeks. If you need a faster decision, you may have the option to pay an additional fee for the Super Priority Service, which provides a decision by the end of the next working day.
Supporting Documents for the Private Life Visa Application
When applying for a Private Life visa, it is essential to provide supporting documents that demonstrate your eligibility and the development of your private life in the UK. In addition to the documents mentioned earlier, such as passports, birth certificates, and marriage/civil partnership certificates, you may need to include additional evidence. This can include documents such as tenancy agreements, utility bills, educational records, employment contracts, and evidence of community involvement or social integration in the UK. The specific documents required may vary depending on individual circumstances, and it is important to seek legal advice to ensure the best possible application.
How long can you stay in the UK under the Private Life Visa route?
How long you can stay and when you can apply for settlement depends on your personal circumstances. Private Life visas are normally granted for 30 months (2.5 years). If, however, you are under 18 and have lived in the UK continuously for at least 7 years, or you are aged between 18 and 24 and have spent half your life in the UK, you can apply for a 5-year visa – in this scenario, you can also settle after 5 years.
Alternatively, it is possible to settle in the UK after 10 years if:
- You are 18 or over, have spent under 20 years in the UK, and would have very significant problems living in the country you would need to return to, or
- If you were born in the UK to a person who has permission to stay in the UK on the basis of their private life, or they are applying for it
It is also possible to extend your family’s private life visa for a further 30 months under the further leave to remain route.
It’s important to understand that to remain in the country legally, you need to apply for a visa extension or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before your current visa expires. If you fail to do this, you might be considered as overstaying, and this can lead to serious repercussions.
Conditions and Responsibilities under the Private Life Visa
It is important to be aware of the conditions and responsibilities that come with holding a Private Life visa. While residing in the UK, individuals must comply with immigration laws and regulations, as well as any specific requirements specified by the Home Office. It is also essential to keep track of your visa’s expiry date and make necessary preparations for extension or settlement applications well in advance. Failing to comply with these conditions or responsibilities can jeopardise an individual’s stay in the UK.
What to do if your Private Life Visa Application has been Refused
There are many potential reasons for the refusal of a Private Life application, including if your application is invalid (e.g. incomplete or the full fee has not been paid), unsuitability (e.g. criminality), or lack of eligibility (e.g. if you have not been living the UK for the required amount of continuous time).
If your application has been refused, you may be able to appeal under Part 5 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. If, however, the Home Office ‘certify’ your claim on the basis that it is ‘clearly unfounded’, you may not have the right to appeal. Your decision letter will explain whether you can appeal or not.
If you do not have the right of appeal or if your appeal rights have been exhausted, you may be able to prepare and submit a fresh application or apply for a different type of visa altogether. Whether you are considering making a private life application in the near future, you would like to have your application checked before submission, or you have been refused, speak to a specialist in immigration law who can ensure that your legal right to remain in the UK is assured.
Who can not Apply for a Private Life Visa?
Please note that certain circumstances may result in the refusal of private life applications on the basis of suitability. The following list, while not exhaustive, outlines some of these circumstances:
- The applicant is currently under a deportation order.
- The approval of the visa would not be in the best interest of the public. This could be due to the applicant’s criminal record, antisocial behaviour, or if the Secretary of State deems it inappropriate.
- The applicant has not attended a scheduled immigration interview, furnished necessary information, submitted required physical data, undergone a requested medical examination, or provided a needed medical report without a reasonable excuse.
- The applicant has provided false information, made misleading claims, or submitted fraudulent documents.
- The applicant has omitted crucial facts during the application process.
Seeking Professional Advice and Assistance
Navigating the UK immigration system can be complex, especially when applying for visas based on private life circumstances. It is highly recommended to seek professional advice and assistance from immigration lawyers or solicitors experienced in handling such cases. We can provide guidance, review your application, help gather the required evidence, and represent you in case of refusals or appeals. By working with a knowledgeable legal professional, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome and ensure that your rights to remain in the UK are protected.
Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors specialises in the most complex and urgent immigration applications and appeals cases. Our immigration solicitors have successfully assisted many individuals and their family members in overcoming overwhelming odds to remain in the UK; let us do the same for you. Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below to discuss your matter with one of our friendly and empathetic team.
The UK Private Life Visa is a unique immigration pathway that enables individuals to remain in the UK after establishing a significant and meaningful private life over an extended period. This visa falls under the umbrella of the UK’s family immigration scheme and is rooted in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The required length of residence varies based on factors such as the individual’s age upon arrival in the UK and their specific circumstances. The criteria encompass a range of possibilities, from children under 18 who have continuously resided in the UK for at least 7 years to adults who have accumulated 20 years or more of uninterrupted residence.
No, Private Life Visa applications must be submitted while you are physically present in the UK.
Yes, there are certain circumstances in which individuals may face obstacles or limitations when applying for a Private Life Visa. For instance, if an applicant has made a protection or asylum claim that the Home Office deems inadmissible, their application may be affected. Moreover, the applicant’s family life will be considered alongside their private life before the Home Office makes a decision.
In 2022, the UK government implemented significant changes to the Private Life Visa rules, introducing a new provision called ‘Appendix Private Life.’ This provision grants immediate settlement in the UK to children born in the UK and who have resided for 7 years or more. These changes reflect the government’s commitment to recognising the rights of individuals who have established deep roots in the UK.
Certain circumstances may render individuals ineligible for the Private Life Visa. For instance, applicants with a deportation order in place or those whose presence is deemed detrimental to the public interest may face refusal. Moreover, failure to provide the necessary information, submission of false documentation, or omission of crucial facts during the application process can also lead to ineligibility.
The length of stay on a Private Life Visa varies depending on the unique circumstances of each applicant. In most cases, individuals are granted permission to stay for 30 months (2.5 years), with the opportunity to extend for an additional 30 months. However, certain situations warrant longer stays of up to 60 months (5 years).
The eligibility for ILR or settlement in the UK depends on factors such as the applicant’s age and specific circumstances. It ranges from immediate eligibility to a waiting period of 10 years, during which the applicant must meet the required criteria.
Engaging the services of an experienced immigration law firm can greatly facilitate the Private Life Visa application process. These professionals can provide comprehensive assistance, ensuring that your application meets all the necessary requirements. Moreover, they can guide you through the entire process, helping you gather the required documentation, prepare your application for you and submit it on your behalf.
At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, we specialise in UK immigration law, offering expert assistance across visa applications, immigration interview processes, citizenship, work permits, and asylum claims. Our dedicated lawyers provide clear, professional guidance, ensuring clients navigate the immigration process with ease.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.