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Big Changes to the 10 Year Long Residence ILR Rules

Since 11 April 2024, there has been a(nother) new Appendix to the Immigration Rules: Appendix Long Residence.  

The Long Residence indefinite leave to remain route is for a person who has lived in the UK lawfully and continuously for 10 years or more.  Long had the ‘long residence’ provisions been hidden in an all but abandoned section of the numbered Immigration Rules, and this route had been much litigated in recent years and criticised for a lack of clarity in drafting.  

The new Appendix changes a lot of things about 10 year Long Residence ILR route. Some very important changes open up the route massively, while others restrict it significantly. 

Changes to the 10 Year Long Residence ILR Immigration Rules

1. Requirement to have had current permission (where granted from 11 April 2024) for 12 months or more

The March 2024 Statement of Changes announced the planned change, and the Explanatory memorandum set out: 

Appendix Long Residence includes a policy change whereby applicants must have had their current permission for one year (or have been exempt from immigration control within the 12 months immediately before their application) to qualify for settlement on this route. This aligns the requirements of this route with wider requirements for settlement. 

Since 11 April 2024, the following rule has therefore been introduced into the Long Residence Immigration Rules:  

LR 11.3. Subject to LR 11.4, the applicant must have had permission on their current immigration route for at least 12 months on the date of application, or have been exempt from immigration control in the 12 months immediately before the date of application.

LR 11.4. If the applicant’s current permission was granted before 11 April 2024, LR 11.3. does not apply.

As such, the Home Office has decided to reduce flexibility and potentially delay some 10 Year Long Residence ILR applications. The effect of rule LR 11.3 will be that some applicants granted permission after 11 April 2024 will find that they need to wait some months longer than the tenth anniversary of their entry to qualify for indefinite leave to remain on grounds of long residence, so that they meet the requirement of LR 11.3 to have had permission in their current visa for at least 12 months.  

This of course also rules out Long Residence ILR applications by those who are short-term students and visitors / have other grants less than 12 months.   

Why persons have to have had permission under a current route rather than simply being granted permission on a route for more than 12 months is unclear. 

2. Qualifying period requirement for settlement on the Long Residence route

The new Long Residence Rules set out: 

LR 11.1. The applicant must have spent a qualifying period of 10 years lawfully in the UK, for the entirety of which one or more of the following applied:

(a)  the applicant had permission, except permission as a Visitor, Short-term Student (English language) or Seasonal Worker (or under any of their predecessor routes); or

(b)  the applicant was exempt from immigration control; or

(c)  the applicant was in the UK as an EEA national, or the family member of an  EEA national, exercising a right to reside under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 prior to 11pm on 31 December 2020 (and until 30 June 2021 or the final determination of an application under Appendix EU made by them by that date).

Under the pre-11 April 2024 Long Residence ILR rules, the last Long Residence Caseworker Guidance (Version 19.0) published on 05 October 2023 stated:

‘When considering a long residence application, however, you should apply discretion and count time spent in the UK as lawful residence for an EU or EEA national, or their family members exercising their treaty rights to reside in the UK.

Sufficient evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the applicant has been exercising treaty rights throughout any period that they are seeking to rely on for the purposes of meeting the long residence rules.’

As such, it is positive and useful that the Immigration Rules have incorporated exercise of Treaty rights specifically as ‘qualifying’ for a ten year indefinite leave to remain application.  This is a better and clearer position than having to rely on caseworker guidance. 

Time overstaying in the ten year period breaks continuity – this was the case immediately prior to 11 April 2024, and is continued in the new appendix. 

LR 11.2. The following periods will not count towards the qualifying period for Long Residence:

(a)  time spent on immigration bail, temporary admission or temporary release; an

(b)  any period of overstaying between periods of permission before 24 November 2016 even if a further application was made within 28 days of the expiry of the previous permission; and 

(c) any period of overstaying between periods of permission on or after 24 November 2016 even if paragraph 39E applies to that period of overstaying; and

(d) any current period of overstaying where paragraph 39E applies.

3. Continuous residence requirement for settlement on the Long Residence route

UPDATE: Since this post was first published, the Home Office has published new guidance on the continuous residence requirement for settlement on the Long Residence route.  To read our overview of the latest position, please refer to our updated post: New Guidance Clarifies Long Residence ILR 548-Day Absence Rule.

Paragraph LR 12.1 of the Long Residence rules states as follows:

LR 12.1. The applicant must have met the continuous residence requirement set out in Appendix Continuous Residence for the entirety of the qualifying period.

Removal of 548 days limit on absences

One big and positive change which will benefit many going forward, will be the way absences are calculated for the purpose of a 10 year long residence ILR application.  The ten year long residence route famously permitted absences of only 548 days in total (after some judicial consideration).  Going forward, this is not the case. 

The current approach to absences for a 10 year long residence ILR application is summarised in the Home Office guidance as follows: 

  • any single absences started before 11 April 2024 must be no longer than 184 days;
  • a 10-year period completed before 11 April 2024 must not have total absences of more than 548 days – for 10-year periods which extend beyond 11 April 2024, there is no 548-day limit;
  • from 11 April 2024 the applicant must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.

This change is likely to be very beneficial for people who came to the UK as young students, who typically have longer holidays due to family being overseas. 

In accordance with Appendix Continuous Residence, 

any period spent outside the UK will not count towards the period of absence where the absence was for any of the following reasons:

(a) the applicant was assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas, providing if on a sponsored route their sponsor agreed to the absence for that purpose; or

(b) travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic; or

(c) compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as the life-threatening illness of the applicant, or life-threatening illness or death of a close family member; or

(d) research activity undertaken by a Skilled Worker which was approved by their sponsor and where the applicant was sponsored for a job in one of the following SOC 2020 occupation codes:

      • 2111 Chemical scientists
      • 2112 Biological scientists
      • 2113 Biochemists and biomedical scientists
      • 2114 Physical scientists
      • 2115 Social and humanities scientists
      • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
      • 2161 Research and development (R&D) managers
      • 2162 Other researchers, unspecified discipline
      • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals; or

(e) research activity undertaken by a person on the Global Talent route who was endorsed by:

      • (i) The Royal Society; or
      • (ii) The British Academy; or
      • (iii) The Royal Academy of Engineering; or
      • (iv) UKRI; or

(f) research activity undertaken by a person on the Global Talent route who qualified on the basis of a prize listed in table 6 of Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes; or

(g) for an applicant under Appendix Settlement Family Life, absences for work, study or supporting family overseas, so long as the family have throughout the period of absence maintained a family life in the UK and the UK remained their place of permanent residence; or

(h) where the applicant’s partner is absent from the UK on Crown service as:

      • (i) a regular member of HM Armed Forces (the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Army (including the Brigade of Gurkhas) and the Royal Air Force); or
      • (ii) an employee of the UK Government, a Northern Ireland department, the Scottish Administration or the Welsh Government; or
      • (iii) a permanent member of the British Council, and the applicant accompanies them overseas.

As such, excess absences, such as for COVID reasons, would not break continuity for the purpose of a long residence ILR application.  Also, Appendix Continuous Residence specifies that time in the Channel Islands / Isle of Man is not treated as time spent in the UK for the purpose of Appendix Long Residence. 

Transitional provisions

This is not all good news, however – the more generous absence provisions are not being retrospectively applied where the qualifying period completed before 11 April 2024. While there will be greater absences permitted for applicants going forward, those who completed their 10 year period before 11 April 2024 will not be permitted to have been absent for more than 184 days on any single occasion or for more than 548 days in total.

CR 2.2A. Where the application is under Appendix Long Residence, for any qualifying period before 11 April 2024, the applicant must not have been outside the UK for more than 184 days at any one time, and must not have spent a total of more than 548 days outside the UK during that qualifying period, subject to CR 2.3.

A further restriction is emphasised in the new long residence guidance, which sets out: 

Paragraph CR 6.1. of Appendix Continuous Residence sets out that the continuous residence periods will be calculated by counting back from the relevant date. This means that an applicant cannot rely on a historic 10-year qualifying period, outside of the limits defined in CR 6.1. See more detail in the Continuous residence guidance.

Paragraph CR 6.1 sets out: 

The continuous residence periods in CR 2.1, CR 2.2. and CR 2.2A. will be calculated by counting back from whichever of the following dates is the most beneficial to the applicant:

(a) the date of application; or

(b) any date up to 28 days after the date of application; or

(c) the date of decision; or

(d) for a person applying for settlement on the UK Ancestry route, the date of their last grant of permission.

This means that the unique and useful feature of a long residence ILR application being possible on a historic basis has ended.  This was often a useful application for persons who had accrued long periods of residence but, for whatever reason, never made an application. 

4. Knowledge of English and Life in the UK for settlement on the Long Residence route

This still requires the Life in the UK test to be passed, but makes English language slightly easier as Appendix English Language permits reliance on GCSE / A-Levels. 

Conclusions

Overall, the changes to the rules allowing for indefinite leave to remain based on 10 years long residence will genuinely make settlement very much easier to achieve for many young students and those with high absences across a lengthy period.  

Importantly, the changes, however, are intentionally penalising people who had not previously submitted an application but who had accrued a historic ten year period of residence meeting the old long residence rules.  

In removing the ‘historic’ ten year ILR optionality, the Home Office has removed a useful quirk for many people.  In recent years, this has often been a route which benefitted EU citizens as they were historically less likely to have obtained documentation than other migrants, not being subject to immigration control until Brexit.  With the closure of the historic ten year ILR option combined with the difficulty in submitting ‘late’ EU Settlement Scheme applications since August 2023, the Home Office is effectively closing many routes for EEA citizens who had long-standing UK ties.   

Long residence ILR applications going forward will need to be considered carefully so that all relevant requirements are met and the transitional provisions properly understood.

10 Years Long Residence ILR Application Immigration Lawyers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an ILR application based on 10 years continuous and lawful long residence, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.

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