ArticleWhen do you lose ILR?

The term “returning resident” in UK immigration law refers to a person with settled status who has been abroad for an extended period and seeks to return to the UK. This status, commonly known as “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (ILR), grants the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely and re-enter multiple times without needing further visa extensions. However, this permanence is not absolute, as it can be lost under certain circumstances.

The fragility of ‘Permanent’ Residence:

Despite its nomenclature, ‘permanent residence’ or ‘settled status’ can lapse. It can be revoked through deportation or lapse if the resident stays outside the UK for a specific duration. This can result in individuals being denied re-entry at the border, contrary to their expectations of ‘permanent’ residence.

Specific durations for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens:

For EU and EEA citizens with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, the permissible absence period is five years. For Swiss citizens, this duration is four years. Exceeding these periods without returning to the UK can lead to the loss of their settled status.

General rule for Non-EU/EEA citizens:

For individuals from other countries, the ILR lapses after a continuous absence of more than two years from the UK, as outlined in Article 13(4)(a) of the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000. This means that despite possessing a Biometric Residence Permit or a passport stamp indicating ILR, the status is invalidated if they exceed the two-year limit.

The story of Irene Clennell

The case of Irene Clennell, who received significant media attention in early 2017, illustrates the complexities of this rule. Clennell, a long-term ILR holder, lost her status after staying outside the UK for over two years to care for her parents abroad. Despite her previous ILR status, she was removed to Singapore by the Home Office for unlawful stay upon her return to the UK with a visit visa.

The Importance of Understanding ILR Rules:

Returning to the UK, even briefly, can prevent the loss of ILR, but awareness of this law is crucial. Many ILR holders may not realize that ‘indefinite’ does not equate to ‘permanent’ in absolute terms.

For returning residents, understanding the nuances of ILR and its limitations is vital to maintaining their status in the UK. Those unsure of their position, or planning extended stays abroad, should seek legal advice to navigate these rules effectively and secure their rights to reside in the UK.

Get in touch:  For a comprehensive understanding of your options or queries on UK immigration matters, reach out to GigaLegal at 02074067654 or click here to book a no-obligation consultation with an immigration expert.