How to Apply for ILR Based on Long Residence

How to Apply for ILR based on Long Residence

For many individuals who have made the UK their home, obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a notable milestone. Two primary routes to achieving this status are based on long residence: the 10-year and the 20-year routes. The 10-year route is suitable for those who have maintained a decade of lawful residence. In contrast, the 20-year route caters to individuals with an extended history in the country, albeit under different conditions.

This article explores the specifics of applying for ILR through these long residence routes. It covers the meaning of continuous and lawful residence, the requirements for ILR based on 10 and 20 years of residence, and the application process for each. Let’s get started!

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ILR Based on 10 Years Long Residence

The 10-year-long residence route to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, as outlined in Paragraph 276B of the immigration rules, offers a pathway to permanent residency for those who have completed a decade of continuous and lawful residence in the country. This route is designed for individuals who have adhered to the UK’s immigration laws, maintaining their legal status throughout a ten-year period.

It recognises the commitment and integration of long-term residents into the UK society, providing them with an opportunity to solidify their status and continue their life in the UK without the limitations of temporary visas.

What Does Continuous and Lawful Mean?

The terms ‘continuous’ and ‘lawful’ are crucial in the 10-year ILR route.

Continuous residence implies that the applicant must have been in the UK for 10 consecutive years without significant breaks. This means adhering to the visa conditions and not exceeding the permissible time outside the UK. It’s important to note:

  • An absence from the UK is permissible for six months or less at a time, provided the individual has valid leave to enter or remain during their departure and return.
  • The total absence during the 10-year period should not exceed 18 months.
  • Continuity is considered broken in cases such as removal, deportation, leaving with no intention to return, certain criminal convictions, or leaving under circumstances where lawful return cannot be reasonably expected.

Lawful residence, on the other hand, means that during these ten years, the individual must have held valid leave to remain, whether it was as a student, worker, or under any other legal immigration category. It excludes time spent under immigration bail or in categories like Visitor, Short-term Student (English language), or Temporary work – Seasonal Worker.

Requirements for ILR Based on 10 Years Long Residence

To qualify for ILR under the 10-year route, applicants must meet several key requirements. These include proving 10 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK, exhibiting proficiency in the English language, and passing the Life in the UK test. 

They must also prove that their immigration history is clear of any discrepancies or issues that could adversely affect their application, such as breaches of immigration laws or overstaying. The Home Office thoroughly assesses each application for any reason that might warrant a refusal, such as criminal records or security concerns.

How to Apply for ILR on the 10-Year Route

Applying for indefinite leave to remain under the 10-year route involves several steps. The process starts with accurately filling out the online form provided by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) service. It’s crucial to ensure that all information provided is up-to-date and accurate to avoid any complications with your ILR application.

The next step involves scheduling an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point for an interview. This appointment is a key part of the process, where you will provide your biometric information, including fingerprints and a photograph, which are required for the biometric residence permit.

You can submit the required documents for the long residence application either by uploading them using the online service during your application process or physically bringing them to your biometric appointment. It’s essential to have all necessary documents ready for a successful application, as they are required for the application and provide evidence of your continuous lawful residence in the UK.

During the review period of your application for ILR, you must stay in the UK. Any travel outside of the UK can lead to the termination of your ILR application. This restriction stays in place until a decision is reached on your application, ensuring that your immigration status remains uninterrupted during this crucial phase. 

ILR Based on 20 Years Long Residence

The 20-years long residence route, as outlined in Appendix Private Life of the immigration rules, presents a path to ILR for those who might not be able to apply based on the ten years of continuous lawful residence. Unlike the 10-year route, this pathway does not require lawful residence in the UK, focusing instead on the aspect of “continuous” residence. 

The definition of continuous residence under this rule shares similarities with the 10-year lawful residence route but has two key differences. Firstly, periods of imprisonment do not constitute a break in continuous residence. Instead, they are simply not counted towards the total residency period, with time before and after imprisonment being aggregated.

Secondly, applicants under the 20-year rule are allowed up to 550 days of absence from the UK, slightly more than the 548 days permitted under the 10-year route. This difference acknowledges the longer duration over which the continuous residence is assessed, providing a slightly more flexible stance on absences from the UK. 

Requirements for ILR on the 20-Year Route

To be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the 20-year long residence rule, applicants must meet specific criteria set by the Home Office. First, they need to demonstrate continuous residence in the United Kingdom for 20 years. This period reflects their commitment and connection to life in the UK.

Additionally, the Home Office evaluates the application based on public interest considerations. It must be determined that granting leave to remain in the UK does not contradict public good reasons. This assessment includes reviewing the applicant’s immigration history and any criminal records, including periods of imprisonment, under the suitability grounds.

Furthermore, applicants must not have long absences from the UK, ensuring that their connection to the country has been maintained throughout the two-decade period. 

How to Apply for ILR on the 20-Year Route

To start, applicants must complete the same online form based on family or private life. This form is critical in providing the necessary details about the applicant’s 20-year journey in the UK and their intention to regularise their stay based on their continuous residence.

Applicants must ensure their application is valid by paying the required fees and attending a biometric appointment. Additionally, presenting a valid passport or appropriate identity document is essential. It is also mandatory to be physically present in the UK while applying.

The applicant must also provide evidence of having lived in the UK for 20 years. This documentation forms the backbone of the application, substantiating the two-decade-long connection with the UK.

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How Long Does the Application Process Take on Each Route?

The duration of the ILR application process can fluctuate based on several factors, including the complexity of the individual application, the number of applications the home office is dealing with, etc. 

Typically, the decision-making process for the 20-year and 10-year ILR routes takes about six months. However, this can differ based on the intricacy of the application and the individual circumstances of the applicant. It’s important to note that more complex cases, such as those involving extensive periods of unlawful residence or discrepancies in documentation, may take longer.

In both cases, applicants are advised to plan accordingly, considering potential delays and ensuring their current visa or leave does not expire during the waiting period. It’s crucial to maintain valid immigration status throughout the process to avoid complications.

When an Application for Long Residence Can Be Refused

Applications for ILR based on long residence, either under the 10-year or 20-year rule, can be refused for various reasons:

  1. Failure to Meet Continuous Residence Requirements: If the applicant has not stayed in the UK for 10 continuous years or 20 years, respectively, or has had long absences that do not align with the policy’s stipulations, their application can be refused. It’s crucial that applicants maintain their residence in the UK within the required timeframe.
  2. Breach of Immigration Laws: Violations of UK immigration law, including overstaying previous leave or having a record of illegal residence in the UK, can lead to refusal.
  3. Public Interest Concerns: If granting leave is considered against the public good, the application may be refused. This includes considerations of criminal history or other security concerns.
  4. Inadequate Documentation: Failure to provide the following documents or insufficient evidence to demonstrate continuous residence can result in refusal. Applicants must submit comprehensive proof of their residence in the UK.
  5. Discrepancies in Application: Any inconsistencies or inability to meet the requirements for a successful application can be grounds for refusal.

It’s advisable for applicants to consult with immigration experts or an immigration lawyer to ensure their application aligns with the Home Office’s requirements and to address any potential issues before submission. This approach can significantly increase the chances of being granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Need Help with a Long Residence Application in the UK?

Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors offer professional guidance in managing long residence applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. If you’re applying for a 10-year ILR or the 20-year route, our team can offer comprehensive support. We understand the critical nuances of the UK immigration law, the importance of maintaining your status in the UK, and the intricacies involved in demonstrating continuous lawful residence.

Our experienced solicitors are ready to guide you through the application process and make sure you fulfil all the conditions necessary for a successful submission. Let us help you secure your future in the UK with confidence. Contact Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors today to make your application journey smoother.


If your application is denied, you may have the option to challenge the decision through an appeal. It is vital to seek legal advice in such a situation to understand your options for challenging the refusal.

You will need the appointment to submit your fingerprint and images for a Biometric Residence Permit. It serves as proof of an individual’s immigration status and entitlements while residing in the UK.

Leaving the UK and returning within the 10-year period may affect your eligibility for ILR based on Long Residence, especially if the absences exceed certain limits, and it is important to consider the impact of such absences on your application carefully.

For the 20-year route, periods of imprisonment are treated differently. While they do not break the chain of continuous residence, they do not count towards the 20-year residency requirement. This means that the time you spend incarcerated will be excluded from the computation of your continuous residence.

While not mandatory, consulting an immigration lawyer can significantly improve your application’s chances by ensuring all legal requirements and documentation are correctly addressed. In case of refusal, they can offer you crucial legal advice on what actions to take next.

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