Settlement after 10 Years in the UK
Any individual who has resided continuously in the United Kingdom for a minimum of 10 years may fulfil official requirements for settled status. In accordance with paragraph 276A of the immigration rules, this ten-year period must be unbroken and refers exclusively to legal residence in the United Kingdom.
The ten-year residency route to settlement is based on the assumption that those who have spent at least a decade in the United Kingdom will have created strong ties with the country’s environment and people. While it may be necessary to formalise this assumption with evidence of ties to the United Kingdom, anyone living legally in the country for at least 10 years has the right to apply for settled status.
If you’d like to discuss the possibility of obtaining official settled status based on your long-term residency in the UK, contact the individual immigration team at Aristone Solicitors today.
Requirements for Settlement
In order to qualify for settled status as a long-term resident of the United Kingdom, the applicant must meet several mandatory requirements:
10 years continuous residence
The person applying for settled status must have resided legally in the United Kingdom for a minimum period of 10 years. During this time, the applicant must have been legally permitted to reside in the UK with no overstaying periods of more than 28 days.
Fulfilling the requirement for 10 years’ continuous residence in the UK means that the applicant must not have spent more than 18 months in total outside the UK within this 10-year period. They should also have spent no longer than six consecutive months outside the UK for any reason.
As the long-term residence pathway to settled status is based on the applicant’s assumed connections to UK society and culture, there is very little leeway with the requirements outlined above. It is assumed that if an individual is able to spend more than six months outside the UK at any given time or accumulate 18 months’ absence over a period of 10 years, they may not be sufficiently connected with the UK to qualify for settled status.
It’s also important to note that any time spent in a young offenders’ institution, a correctional facility, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland may not count towards the applicant’s total residency requirement.
In accordance with immigration policy, the 10-year period of residency to qualify for settled status in the UK must have been 100% legal. Referring to paragraph 276A of the Immigration rules, the resident must have one of the following:
- Formal and valid permission to enter and remain in the United Kingdom
- Temporary permission to access the UK (based on section 11 of the 1971 Act)
- A formal exemption from standard immigration controls
In addition, qualification for long-term resident status may be affected by the applicant’s criminal record. Their application may be refused if they have one or more unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
All applications are considered in accordance with the wider interests of the public. Should the Home Office reach the conclusion that to grant an individual settled status is against the public good, it will be rejected. Much of the stipulations regarding public interest are matters of personal opinion and judgement, rather than formal requirements to fulfil.
Language Skills and UK Way of Life
Settled status will typically only be granted to those who can demonstrate an acceptable grasp of the English language, along with a broad knowledge of UK culture and the way of life in the United Kingdom. Immigration legislation defines adequate English language skills as an English qualification at B1 level above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), or SET (LR) GUIDANCE NOTES Version 11/2015 Set (LR) Guidance Notes (Version 11/2015) or earning a degree-level qualification in the United Kingdom that was taught in English. Applicants who are nationals of English-speaking countries are also typically exempt from such requirements.
Where applicants are required to take the life in the UK test, a series of 24 or more questions must be answered within a period of 45 minutes. The questions are designed to gauge the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the values, the people and the general culture of United Kingdom.
Typical Breaks in Continuous Residence
Some of the most common reasons for breaks in continuous residency are as follows:
- The applicant has spent more than six months outside the UK in a single trip for any reason.
- More than 18 months have been spent outside the United Kingdom during the 10-year qualifying period.
- The applicant exits the United Kingdom at any time and does not have the legal entitlement to re-enter the country.
- Deportation or forced removal proceedings have been implemented against the applicant.
- Permission to enter the UK or reside legally has been refused and the applicant has left the country.
- The applicant has left the United Kingdom willingly and demonstrated an intention not to return.
- There is no possibility of the applicant returning lawfully to the United Kingdom after exiting the country for any reason.
- The applicant has been ordered to be detained in an institution which is not a prison, or sentenced based on a conviction. Suspended sentences are exempt from this rule.
Discretion for Breaks in Lawful Residence
There are instances wherein the Home Office may demonstrate a certain amount of flexibility with regard to breaks in lawful residents. According to official immigration legislation, discretion may be exercised in the following instances:
- Where the applicant has broken their continuous residence by a maximum of 28 calendar days due to making prior applications at the time.
- In instances where all other requirements for local residents are met by the applicant.
It is therefore important to understand your rights and the strength of your case, before submitting your application. Even if there have been breaks in your period of lawful residence in the UK, the Home Office may still consider your application by way of individual merit.
However, the vast majority of applications will be immediately declined where any of the general rules regarding the 10 years continuous residence requirements are breached. Please note that this 10-year period begins on the day the applicant arrived in the UK, or the date of receiving formal leave to remain where applicable.
If you are currently residing legally in the United Kingdom on a temporary visa, you may need to apply for an extension to fulfil the 10-year minimum residency requirement.
Luton’s Leading Long-Term Residence Lawyers
Here at Aristone Solicitors, we’ve spent more than a decade assisting clients with complex and challenging individual immigration cases. Our experience and expertise extend to all aspects of individual immigration law, allowing us to streamline and simplify the application process for the benefit of our clients. Whether considering an application for settled status or dealing with the fallout of a rejection, we’re standing by to offer our full support. Contact a member of our individual immigration team today to book your obligation-free consultation.