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Does Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Expire?

Last updated: 22 Nov 2022

While Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) has no expiry date, it will automatically expire if you leave the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, or Jersey for two or more years.

In other words, Indefinite Leave to Remain is valid your lifetime as long as you do not breach your immigration conditions or leave the UK for too long.

It is important to distinguish your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from your ILR status. Even though there is no ILR expiry, the BRP card, which proves you have ILR status, does have an expiry date. An expired BRP card does not mean that you lose your ILR status. The BRP card itself has simply expired and can be renewed.

However, if you hold Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), this can expire, but only where the person has been outside of the UK for five or more years.

Why does my ILR BRP card have an expiry date of 31st December 2024?

Many BRPs issued in recent years have an early expiry date of 31st December 2024; this is an EU requirement for countries that are yet to implement new BRP encryption technology, which the UK currently does not have.

Those who have gained ILR and have a BRP with an expiry of 31st December 2024 do not need to worry or take any action. Your ILR rights will not come to an end; it is just your BRP card that will expire. It is expected that before the expiry of these early-dated BRPs, a new online system will be in place to replace the need for a physical card.

The Home Office will write to BRP cardholders to advise them of this new process in due course.

What if your ILR has expired due to a 2-year absence?

If you have lost your ILR status due to a prolonged absence from the UK, you can apply for a UK Returning Resident Visa (RRV). An RRV will give you the entry clearance necessary to return to the UK and resume living here. It is important to note that ILR does not always expire if you leave the UK for 2 or more years; for example, spouse visa holders and British overseas citizens may be exempt from the automatic ILR expiry rule.

To apply for an Returning Resident Visa, you will need to complete the required application form from outside the UK, pay the application fee, and provide evidence of your strong ties to the UK (e.g. evidence of family ties, property, and/or business interests). Returning Resident Visa applications are normally processed within 3 weeks.

Can ILR be revoked?

ILR may be revoked (cancelled) in a range of circumstances, including if:

  • A person with ILR is liable to deportation from the UK
  • A person with ILR is liable to administrative removal from the UK
  • The Home Office believe that deception was used to gain ILR, or
  • A person who gained ILR as a refugee loses their refugee status due to their own actions

If your ILR has been revoked, it is essential to seek help from an immigration solicitor who can explain your options and the best way forward given your circumstances. Some of the options available to you may include:

  • Requesting an administrative review if you believe a mistake was made by the Home Office when revoking your ILR
  • Appealing – this option is typically only available if the individual held indefinite leave under the EU Settlement Scheme where the decision made breaches their rights.
  • Judicial review – to challenge the legal basis for the decision.

If it can be shown that the Home Office made the decision to revoke your ILR without following their own guidance properly, there may be a strong case for having this overturned.

What if your ILR is on an expired passport

If your proof of ILR status is on an expired passport, rather than transfer your Indefinite Leave to Remain to a new passport, you can simply apply to transfer ILR to BRP. This is known as a No Time Limit (NTL) application.

To transfer your ILR status to an NTL BRP, you will need to:

  • Complete and submit the NTL application form1
  • Pay the application fee
  • Have your biometrics taken (your fingerprints and a photo) at a UKVCAS service point
  • Upload any documents required by the Home Office (e.g. proof of identity, passport, evidence of your ILR status)

It is not mandatory to apply for an NTL BRP, but it will help make it easier to prove your rights to live, work, rent, travel, and receive benefits.


References

1 GOV.UK: BRP replacement application

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