Indefinite Leave to Remain expiry rules
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as Indefinite Leave to Enter, is a form of permanent settlement that is available to overseas nationals. Indefinite Leave to Remain allows you to enter the UK to live, study and work in the country for an indefinite period of stay.
However, it’s important that if you have entry clearance under Indefinite Leave to Remain that you are aware of the expiry rules and how your Indefinite Leave to Remain status could be lost or revoked.
How long does Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) last for?
Holding Indefinite Leave to Remain means that you have the right to live, study and work in the UK without being restricted to a time limit. As well as this, you are free to travel in and out of the country without being subject to immigration control. However, although being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK gives you a right to reside in the country permanently, this status can be lost in certain circumstances.
Losing Indefinite Leave to Remain due to leaving the UK
The UK immigration rules state that Indefinite Leave to Remain can expire if an individual has had a consecutive absence from the UK of 2 years or more. This means that if you have resided outside the UK for more than two years, you will automatically no longer be considered as a person who is settled in the UK.
This two-year rule applies to Indefinite Leave to Enter holders regardless of the expiry date on your Indefinite Leave to Remain documentation. However, there are some individuals with ILR status that may be exempt from this, such as members of the Armed Forces.
If you hold ILR and have been granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, then you will be able to spend up to 5 years outside the UK without losing your ILR status, rather than the two years.
Returning Resident Visa
You may be able to restore your Indefinite Leave to Remain status if you wish to settle in the UK again after an absence of two years or more. To do this, you need to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident. You must make an application for a Returning Resident Visa before you travel back to the UK. If you attempt to enter the UK without this visa after an absence of 2 years, you will be denied entry.
To be eligible for a Returning Resident Visa, you must prove to the Home Office that are able to meet the requirements, these include:
- Showing that you previously held Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Proving that you did not use public funds to leave the UK
- Demonstrating that you intend to make the UK your permanent home
Immigration officials will take several factors into consideration when making a decision about your Returning Resident Visa application. You are more likely to be granted the visa if you have strong ties to the UK, such as having family members here, and the length of your absence, as well as the length or your original UK residency, can also be factored into the decision. You will also be required to give a reason for your period of absence and this can also affect the decision.
If you are successfully granted entry to remain in the UK as a returning resident, then your ILR status will be restored. If you have family members with ILR who have also been absent for more than 2 years, then they must make a separate application for a Returning Resident Visa.
Returning Resident visa eligibility and requirements
It is advisable to make sure you are eligible for a Resident Return Visa before applying. As part of the process you will need to ensure the following:
- You have evidence of your previous ILR status in your passport
- You hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BPR) (if applicable)
- Your departure from the UK was not financed by public funds
- You wish to enter the country to settle ultimately
- You are able to provide evidence to explain the reasons for your absence
- If you are returning for work or study purposes, you still intend to remain in the UK on completion.
You make also be asked to provide the following documents/evidence:
Immigrant officers may ask you to prove your strong ties to the UK. To support your Resident Return Visa application, you can present the following documents:
- Details of your family member living in the UK
- Marriage certificates or other information about your marital status
- Evidence of estate properties in the UK
- Letters of enrolment or attendance at an educational institution
- Letters of employment detailing your salary and role within your company
- Proof of your business interests
- Utility bills or council tax statements
- A written statement from a medical professional if your absence was due to medical reasons.
How to check when my Indefinite Leave to Remain expires
You should be aware when your ILR status expires otherwise it could have significant consequences, especially if you plan to apply for British citizenship in the future.
It is possible to check your current immigration status online via the UKVI website – you will need personal details including your BRP to get an up-to-date information on the expiry of your current status.
You can also expire your passport for visa and immigration stamps issued since you were granted ILR. It is important to realise that your ILR expire after two years of absence away from the UK – even if the expiry date on your ILR proof is later.
How to prove my Indefinite Leave to Remain status?
There are a number of ways to prove your ILR status when travelling and re-entering the UK. You can use the following to show your status to immigration officials:
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- NTL stamp in your passport.
- A letter from the Home Office confirming your ILR status
What if my BRP card has expired, lost or stolen?
Your BRP has a ten year expiry and you can apply online for a new one. This is usually done via your visa extension application.
If your details have changed and you need to update your BRP card then you must inform the Home Office and they will advise on getting an updated card.
If your BRP has been stolen or lost then you must report it to the police and get a replacement within three months. If you do not do this, you risk being fined and revoked of your settled status in the UK.
You an apply for a single entry visa to allow you back to the UK if your BRP is stolen when overseas. Again, you must apply for a replacement within three months after returning to the UK.
Why does my biometric residence permit (BRP) expire on 31 December 2024?
Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are usually valid for a period of 10 years, but if you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain at some point within the past few years, then you may have been given a biometric residence permit that expires on 31st December 2024. From January 2020 Individuals that have been granted limited leave to remain for a period of 5 years have also been given BRP’s with an expiry date of 31st December 2024.
If you hold a BRP with this expiry date then you may be concerned that your permission to remain in the UK could expire on the 31st December 2024, however, you shouldn’t worry. Your biometric residence permit can be used to prove your ILR status, however the 31st December 2024 date refers to the expiry of your BRP, not your ILR status. This means that your leave to remain will not expire after this date.
Many are confused as to why they have been given a BRP with this date, but the Home Office has stated that this is because of EU requirements. The EU requires Biometric Residence Permits to incorporate next-generation encryption technology, the current permits issued by the Home Office do not do this, therefore the EU requires that all current BRP’s have an expiry date of no later than 31st December 2024.
What happens when my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) expires?
As mentioned above, your ILR status is not affected by the expiration date of your BRP. The Home Office plans to switch to the next generation encryption technology and anyone that still holds one of the BRPs with an expiration date of 31st December 2024 by 1st July 2024 will have their BRP replaced free of charge.
The Home Office will release further information about how BRP holders with an expiry of 31st December 2024 can apply for a replacement BRP 6 months before the the expiry date. It is recommended that you apply for a replacement around 3 months before the expiry date.
Your biometric residence card is an important document that proves both your identity and your immigration status. It is necessary for several important parts of your life in the UK, including opening a bank account. This is why it’s recommended that ILR holders keep their BRPs up to date and valid.
Other ways Indefinite Leave to Remain status can be lost
There are some circumstances in which your ILR can be revoked. This includes if you are found to have been awarded ILR through means of deception, or if you were granted ILR as a refugee but you no longer hold refugee status.
Your ILR will also be automatically revoked if you are deported. It may also be revoked if you are liable for deportation, but due to legal reasons, such as the Refugee Convention or EU Convention on Human Rights, your deportation is not currently possible.
If you are at risk of being deported, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Do you need help with expired ILR status?
If you have been absent from the UK and are worried about your ILR expiring, then our professional immigration lawyers can help. It is recommended that you seek legal advice if you have lost your ILR status. UK immigration law can be incredibly complex and getting the assistance of a good immigration lawyer will give you a much higher chance of having your ILR successfully restored. Our London immigration lawyers are highly trained in all areas of immigration law and have the legal expertise required to make sure that you will be able to stay in the UK.
Our lawyers can offer guidance throughout the entire process of applying for a Returning Resident Visa. They can assess your eligibility and can help you to put together an application that will satisfy the UK immigration officer that you are able to meet all of the requirements.
For immediate advice about your ILR status, simply contact our London immigration lawyers today on 020 4502 8582.