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Calculate Absence Period from the UK for ILR and British Citizenship

If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or British Citizenship, you may need to calculate the number of days you have been absent from the UK. This is part of the UK continuous residence requirement.

Not all applications to remain permanently in the UK require applicants to meet the continuous residence requirement, including spouse visa holders applying for British citizenship by way of naturalisation. Holders of the following types of visa are required to meet the continuous residence requirement (this list is not exhaustive) when applying for ILR:

It is important to check how many days you have been outside of the UK before submitting your ILR or citizenship application. If you have exceeded the allowed absence period from the UK, this could result in your application for ILR or British naturalisation refused.

How many days can you spend outside the UK?

The amount of time you are permitted to spend outside of the UK in order to meet the continuous residence requirements depends on whether you currently have limited leave to remain, indefinite leave to remain, or British citizenship, as follows:

Limited leave to remain or Pre Settled Status

If you have limited leave to remain (i.e. visa holder) in the UK, you can spend up to a maximum of 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month consecutive period. Spending more than this amount of time outside the UK during your ILR qualifying period (normally 5 years) may mean you are not eligible for ILR.

If you have EU Pre-Settled Status, you can leave the UK for up to 6 months in any 12-month period without losing your ability to gain EU Settled Status.

How many days can you spend outside the UK with ILR?

Those with ILR, EU Settled Status, or Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) who are applying for British citizenship can spend up to 450 days outside of the UK in the 5 years before their application and up to 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.

The immigration rules also state that you can spend up to 2 years in total without losing your ILR (this is up to 5 years for those with EUSS Settled Status). Losing ILR status may mean it is not possible to apply for British citizenship.

How long can you live outside the UK without losing citizenship?

Under the current immigration rules, if you have British citizenship, you can spend as much time as you like outside of the UK without losing your British citizenship status.

Continuous residence requirement for ILR and British Citizenship

The amount of time a person can spend outside the UK is determined by the Home Office’s ‘continuous residence requirement’. It is this rule that states those with limited leave to remain who wish to apply for ILR must not spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any consecutive 12-month period.

The continuous residence period you must adhere to depends on your chosen settlement route. For example, no more than 180 days spent outside of the UK in any year during the 5-year qualifying period or longer if you are applying for ILR on 10 years basis.

Proof of continuous residence must include evidence you have lived in the UK with relevant permission. For example, whether your residence during this was lawful, and that you have not been absent from the UK for more than the specified periods unless this was for a permitted reason (as explained below).

Calculating days of absence from the UK

To calculate the days absent from the UK, we recommend following these steps:

1) Create a list of the dates you were absent from the UK in each of the 12-month periods. If you are unsure, you can ask for a copy of your immigration history1 from the Home Office. It is essential that you have the exact dates you were absent from the UK.

2) Check you have been in the UK for the required period (e.g. 5 years).

3) Work out the number of days absent in each 12-month period. The method you use will depend on when your ILR qualifying period started (see below).

If your ILR qualifying period includes permission granted by the Home Office prior to 11th January 2018, your absences are considered in consecutive 12-month periods ending on the date of application. This means you will need to count back 365 days from the date you apply to ensure you did not exceed the 180-day cap in that period and so on until you reach the start of the required residence period in the UK.

If your ILR qualifying period includes permission granted by the Home Office on or after 11th January 2018, your absences are considered on a rolling basis over any 12-month period. This means that you must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period (i.e. the 12-month periods are not fixed).

When you are calculating the days of absence from the UK, it is also important to note that:

  • Part days do not count (a full day is 12:00 am to 12:00 pm). For example, if you were absent from the UK for 180 days during a 12-month period, but you commenced your return journey on day 180 and arrived in the UK on day 181, day 181 is not counted as a full day of absence. Therefore you will not have exceeded the 180-day maximum.
  • Home Office case officers are obliged to work back from the date that is most beneficial for your application. This means either from the date of application or any date up to 28 days before the date of your application. This is because you can apply up to 28 days before you are eligible for ILR.
  • The period between gaining entry clearance and entering the UK may count towards the 180 days of absence.

Types of allowed absences from the UK for ILR and British Citizenship

Absences from the UK which exceed the maximum permitted may be disregarded depending on the circumstances. This may include where:

  • The applicant was assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas.
  • There is clear evidence of travel disruption (e.g. following a natural disaster, military conflict, or pandemic).
  • There are compelling and compassionate personal reasons (e.g. illness, illness or death of a close family member).
  • The applicant is a member of the HM Forces.

It is important to note that large periods of absence may lead to more scrutiny of your ILR or citizenship application. For this reason and due to the complexity of calculating absences based on the rules explained above, it is always advisable to seek the expertise of an immigration solicitor who can review and handle your application on your behalf.

Reiss Edwards can handle all aspects of your ILR or citizenship application. Speak to one of our expert immigration solicitors on 020 3744 2797 or email info@reissedwards.co.uk.


References

1 GOV.UK: Request personal immigration history

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