If you are a non-British national living in the UK, most likely, you’re on a visa or leave to remain. Unfortunately, your visa has limited validity, and the same case applies to limited leave to remain in the UK. This means that you need to find a way of getting an extension from the Home Office if you want to remain beyond the validity of your visa or period of limited leave to remain.
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If you do not act on this, and your period of legal stay expires, you will be regarded as an overstayer. To avoid such circumstances from occurring, there is an application route that may work for you, and that is the route of applying for “further leave to remain”, which asks permission from the Home Office for those on visas and limited leave to remain to extend their stay legally in the UK.
What Does Further Leave to Remain Mean?
Further Leave to Remain (FLR) is a UK immigration route that enables non-British nationals living in the UK to extend their stay beyond the original validity of their visa or period of limited leave to remain. It is highly beneficial for individuals whose initial leave to remain has either expired or is approaching expiry, granting them permission to continue living in the country for a specified duration.
There are two different categories of FLR, each tailored to various circumstances such as marriage, family life, private life, or dependency on a British citizen or settled person. These categories are outlined by specific codes such as FLR (M) for extensions based on marriage and FLR (FP) for those based on family and private life.
Types of Further Leave to Remain Application
The process of applying for FLR involves meeting certain eligibility criteria, including documentation to prove identity, proof of relationship to a British sponsor (if applicable), financial requirements, accommodation requirements, and English language proficiency, among others. There are two types of Further Leave to Remain routes:
- Further leave to remain ‘M’ category also known as FLR (M)-this is based on marriage
- Further leave to remain ‘F’ and ‘P’, alias FLR (FP)-this is based on family and private life.
FLR (M) form can be used by an applicant who is looking to extend their stay in the UK on the basis of being a spouse/partner or dependant child of a British citizen or settled, person on refugee leave or humanitarian protection.
Through the FLR (M) route, an extension of stay in the UK for a period of 30 months can be applied for as a:
- Civil partner
- Same-sex partner
- Unmarried partner
- Child of British parent or individual with indefinite leave to remain
- Parent of British child or child with indefinite leave to remain
Leave granted under FLR (M) application is valid for 2.5 years. After a continuous stay for a period of at least five years under this leave, you can apply for indefinite leave of remain (ILR), which is permanent residency. This is normally called the 5-year route to ILR.
The FLR (M) applicants must show the Home Office that they meet the set requirements in their respective category, for instance:
- Documentation to prove your identity.
- Show when you started living in the UK.
- Proof of relationship to the British sponsor (partner or spouse).
- Financial requirement
- Accommodation requirements.
- English language requirements.
In a nutshell, leave granted under FLR (M) application is normally given within the respective UK immigration rules.
Further Leave to Remain under Family or Private Life FLR (FP) – The Catch-All
If you don’t meet the requirements for FLR (M) and are not on a visa as mentioned in the selection above and are in the UK as an overstayer, or here illegally, you can try getting further leave to remain through the FLR (FP) form. FLR (FP) is for those who do not qualify for FLR (M) but wish to apply for an extension or switch from another visa category under the UK immigration rules. An exmaple is an indivudal who is not on a valid visa to be in the UK, but has a British spouse/partner and a young child together with this person. If this is the case, they can try getting further leave to remain through FLR (FP). When you fill in the FLR (FP) form, you’ll be applying for a UK stay extension based on family or private life.
This application form is meant to be filled in by those who do not meet the requirements for the FLR (M) but qualify for an exception under Appendix FM of the UK immigration laws.
Family life includes applications made as a spouse of a person who is settled in the UK or for a guardian of a British child. Appendix FM of the UK immigration law has the rules to be followed by those wishing to apply for further leave to remain under family life.
For example, it may be deemed irrational to have a person who is married to a British citizen with whom they have a child together leave the country because their leave to remain has expired. The non-British spouse can apply to have their leave extended through FLR (FP). Further leave to remain under family life gives such a person an opportunity to extend their stay in the country for 30 months.
It would be up to the discretion of the Home Office, however, to grant such permission. He could be advised to leave and make an application from abroad. He may be given a right of appeal as this would be a human rights issue where you can argue your case before an immigration judge.
Additionally, if you divorced your British spouse but still have access to the child you have together, or due to your financial status, you may not qualify for a UK spouse visa. However, you can apply for leave outside the rules on the basis of family life through FLR (FP). This is because your child forms part of your family life.
Further Leave to Remain Under Private Life.
Further leave to remain under private life application is solely considered under the merits of the applicant’s circumstances, other than a dependent, spouse or spouse-like relationship.
If you’ve stayed in the UK for considerably many years (illegally or legally and legally), you can apply to extend your stay in the country legally through FLR (FP) as long as you meet paragraphs 276ADE(1) and 276ADE(2) of the UK immigration Rules Part 7.
For instance, you must fulfil one of the following conditions to qualify for further leave to remain on the basis of private life:
- A minimum of 20 years of continuous illegal (or a combination of legal and illegal) stay in the UK if 18 or over.
- At the very least, seven years of continuous illegal (or a combination of legal and illegal) for a child under the age of 18 years who has lived continuously in the UK for at least seven years;
- Having lived in the UK for at least half of your age continuously if you’re aged between 18 and 24.
If the Home Office finds your FLR (FP) application (either on private life or family life) compliant with the necessary requirements, you’ll be allowed to live in the UK for additional 2.5 years (30 months). You’ll enjoy the same rights as those on leave to remain, such as the right to work, study and live in the country within the leave period.
FLR (FP) is a gateway to indefinite leave to remain. However, this is a 10-year route to ILR, meaning that you have to live in the UK for ten continuous years on a visa gained through FLR (FP) for your ILR application to be successful.
What’s the Difference Between FLR (FP) and FLR (M)
Both FLR (FP) and FLR (M) are applications that are generally used by those without settled status or indefinite leave to remain to apply for the extension of their stay in the country legally.
However, the two applications differ in two key ways. First, the leave given through FLR (M) is granted within the UK rules and is based on marriage, or based on unmarried couples or civil partners, while FLR (FP) requirements are outside the rules.
Secondly, two successful FLR (M) applications (as they are each 2.5 years long) can be enough for one to qualify for indefinite leave to remain upon staying in the UK continuously for the two granted leave periods (5 years). On the other hand, FLR (FP) applications constitute a 10-year route to ILR. If you have been in the UK on an irregular basis but otherwise comply with the immigration rules, for example, as an overstayer, you may be given discretionary leave to remain but told that you must renew your status under this category for a ten year period before applying for ILR. This means that one has to have made at least four FLR (FP) applications to accumulate ten years of continuous stay in the UK for them to stand a chance to qualify for indefinite leave to remain.
Contemplating which route is the best for your application for further leave to remain in the UK can be a daunting task. Therefore, we recommend that you seek legal advice from a legal expert to identify the option that suits you best, based on your specific circumstances. On that note, our immigration solicitors can offer you any guidance you need on your further leave to remain application.
Whether you need help with identifying the best option for you between FLR (FP) and FLR (M) application, getting the necessary support documents or filing in either of the forms, you can count on us for the best results. Contact us now for timely help.
Detailed Requirements for Further Leave to Remain (FLR) Applications in the UK
The requirements for Further Leave to Remain depend on the type of visa you currently hold. Here are the essential requirements for FLR, categorised according to different circumstances:
- General Requirements:
- Proof of Identity: Valid passport or other identity documents.
- Current Visa Status: Must provide evidence of a valid visa or limited leave to remain in the UK.
- Application Timing: You must apply for an extension before the current visa or limited leave expires.
- Compliance with Immigration Rules: It is necessary for applicants to comply with the immigration regulations of the United Kingdom.
- FLR Based on Marriage (Spouse Visa):
- Marital Status: Documentation proving a legal marriage.
- Financial Requirements: You must meet the financial threshold to apply for further leave on the basis of your family.
- Accommodation: Proof of adequate housing in the UK.
- English Language Proficiency: As per the spouse visa requirements.
- FLR Based on Family or Private Life:
- Relationship Proof: For family visa applicants, evidence of a genuine relationship with a person in the UK.
- Life in the UK: Evidence of integration and life in the UK, such as employment or education.
- Humanitarian Grounds: For those applying under private life, considerations may include age, length of stay in the UK, etc.
- Other Requirements:
- Home Office Guidelines: Strict adherence to Home Office instructions for the visa application process.
- Leave to Enter or Remain: If previously granted leave to remain or enter, this must be taken into account.
- Fees and Immigration Health Surcharge: Payment of applicable fees and healthcare surcharge.
Applicants must carefully evaluate their unique circumstances to determine the appropriate category for FLR. Whether seeking to extend your visa, apply for further leave on the basis of family or private life, or pave the way to settle in the UK, understanding and meeting the specific requirements is vital.
Based on your unique circumstances, you may require some other documents to meet the requirements of the particular visa. It’s recommended to seek immigration advice from a qualified lawyer before you apply for FLR.
Documents Required for FLR Application
The application for Further Leave to Remain (FLR) requires careful preparation and submission of certain essential documents. This ensures your eligibility to extend your stay in the UK and is crucial for a successful visa application. Below is a list of documents that applicants might need to gather for their FLR application:
- Personal Identification:
- Valid Passport or Travel Document: Demonstrating your identity and nationality.
- Biometric Residence Permit (if applicable): Detailing your current visa or limited leave status.
- Proof of Relationship:
- Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate: If applying on the basis of a spouse or partner.
- Birth Certificates: Especially if children are included in the application to show family connections.
- Financial Evidence:
- Bank Statements: Typically covering the last six months.
- Pay Slips: From your employer, showcasing consistent income if applicable.
- English Language Proficiency:
- Life in the UK Test Certificate: For those required to showcase their English language aptitudes and understanding of life in the UK.
- English Language Test Result: From an approved test provider.
- Accommodation Details:
- Tenancy Agreement or Mortgage Statement: Confirm where you live in the UK.
- Utility Bills: To support your residence claims, such as gas, electricity, or water bills.
- Personal Statement:
- Outlining details of your private or family life in the UK and reasons for wishing to remain.
- Employment and Study:
- Employment Letter: From your employer confirming your role, salary, and length of employment.
- Course Details: If you are currently studying in the UK.
- Home Office Application Forms:
- Fully completed, detailing your request to apply for an extension or further leave.
- Previous Immigration History:
- Any related documents if you have previously applied for an extension or other leave to enter.
- Health and Medical Information:
- Any necessary health certificates or medical test results.
- Payment Proof:
- Receipt or confirmation of payment for the FLR application and related fees.
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free application process to remain in the UK, it’s crucial to check that all documents are up-to-date, authentic, and aligned with the guidelines provided by the Home Office. As immigration rules can be complex, seeking guidance from a legal expert can further enhance your chances of a favourable outcome.
The Further Leave to Remain (FLR) application generally require around 8 weeks for a determination. However, some cases may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your visa and the Home Office’s workload. Also, there happens to be an error or mistake on the visa application, then this will also take more time.
Further Leave to Remain (FLR)is a temporary extension of visa status, allowing the person to continue to live, work, or study in the UK for a specified period. In contrast, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) grants permanent residency, meaning the holder can stay and work in the UK without time limitations and apply for British citizenship after meeting specific criteria.
You can usually apply for Further Leave to Remain (FLR) in the UK 28 days before your current visa or limited leave to remain expires. It is crucial to apply before your existing leave expires to maintain your legal status in the UK.
The application fee for FLR is £1048, which also includes the Immigration Health Surcharge fee of £624 per year. Other fees may be applicable based on the visa category and personal occasions.
No, Further Leave to Remain (FLR) is not permanent in the UK. It is a temporary extension that allows you to live and possibly work or study in the UK for a specified period. Once you have met the necessary criteria, you can submit an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which will present you with permanent residency.
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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.