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Returning Resident Visa Application Guide

The Returning Resident Visa is for individuals whose previous settlement in the UK has lapsed and who now wish to return to the UK to settle. 

Appendix Returning Resident of the Immigration Rules sets out the validity, suitability and eligibility requirements.  In this post, we will have a look at the requirements to apply for a Returning Resident Visa. 

When Does My ILR or Settlement in the UK Lapse?

The Immigration Rules sets out when a person’s settlement will lapse:

A Returning Resident’s previous settlement in the UK must have lapsed by operation of law after they were outside the UK for a continuous period:

  • of more than 2 years under the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000, or
  • of more than 5 years, if they previously had settlement in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, or
  • of more than 4 years, if they previously had settlement in the UK under the EUSS as a Swiss national or a family member of a Swiss national.

Are There Any Exceptions? 

There are exceptions for a partner or child accompanying a member of the HM Forces overseas or a partner or child accompanying a permanent member of the British Council, Home Office overseas or Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. 

Making a Valid Application for Returning Resident Visa

In accordance with paragraphs RR 1.1. and 1.2 of Appendix Returning Resident, you must be outside the UK and complete the online application form “UKA/ROA/RR”. You must pay the required fee and provide a passport that could establish your identity as well as providing your biometric information. If these requirements are not met, your application may be deemed invalid.

If you are applying under the Windrush Scheme, there is a different application form. 

Suitability Requirements for a Returning Resident Visa

You must not fall for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal. Our earlier posts, Grounds for Refusal of a UK Immigration Application Explained and Grounds for Refusal of a UK Immigration Application (Part 2) look at immigration refusals on different grounds.

Eligibility Requirements for a Returning Resident Visa

Entry requirements

To be eligible for a Returning Resident Visa: 

  • you must have previously been granted settlement in the UK, which has lapsed by operation of law due to your absence from the UK;
  • you must have obtained an entry clearance as a Returning Resident;
  • you may need to provide a valid TB certificate if you live in one of the countries listed here for 6 months or more; 

Applicants under 18 years old

If the applicant is under 18 years old, written parental consent must be provided and the application must include information such as the living and care arrangements in the UK. 

Previous departure

You did not receive assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving the UK, unless applying under the Windrush Scheme.

Intention to settle in the UK

You must show the Home Office that you genuinely intend to return to the UK to settle. It may be useful to explain your reasons for wishing to return to the UK after spending a period of time abroad.

Ties to the UK

To show your intention to settle in the UK, the Home Office will expect to see that you have ties to the UK, such as having immediate family members in the UK. They will also consider how often you keep in contact with them.  Such contact may not have to be physically in person.

The Home Office will also consider if you have any properties or business interests in the UK. 

Length of original residence

The Home Office guidance continues to acknowledge that it will consider the length of the original residence and other relevant factors. The guidance sets out:

“The length of time spent outside the UK will be an important factor to consider when assessing whether a person can be readmitted as a returning resident. This must be assessed against all other factors, including the time spent in the UK before they left.”

The guidance goes on to state that:

“A person may leave the UK for a variety of reasons. This may include: 

  • to access health treatment overseas 
  • to care for family 
  • to retire 
  • for employment/self-employment
  • study”

The Home Office must consider your reasons for leaving and now wishing to return to the UK to settle.

Any other circumstances

If there are any other compelling reasons or circumstances for the absence from the UK, for example seeking prolonged medical treatment abroad, it may be useful to explain this in your Returning Resident Visa application, especially if the treatment is not available in the UK. 

Different documents may be required to demonstrate your intention to settle in the UK and you may wish to seek legal advice to discuss your personal circumstances. 

Returning Resident Visa Application Fees and Processing Times

The application fee for a Returning Resident Visa is £637 or free of charge for applicants who meet the criteria on the Windrush Scheme. 

The processing time is around 3 weeks, depending on the country you are applying from.

Validity Period of a Returning Resident Visa

If your application for a Returning Resident Visa is successful, you will be granted entry clearance for settlement. 

Absences Within the Permitted Period

If you have been away from the UK within the permitted period, you will retain settlement. If you no longer have the passport with the stamp or vignette or BRP showing the settlement status, you will need to apply for a replacement BRP in order to enter the UK. Please read our earlier post here regarding the eVisa replacing the BRP.

What Happens if My Returning Resident Visa Application is Refused?

If your application for a Returning Resident Visa is refused, there will be no right of appeal. However, you may request an Administrative Review of the decision. This means that you will be asking for a review of the original decision to see whether there was a case working error.   

Can I Apply For My Dependants?

Returning Resident Visa applicants cannot bring or be joined by a partner or children. They must qualify in their own right. You may wish to speak to a legal representative regarding alternative options for dependants.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a Returning Resident Visa application, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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