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What Are The Conditions of Indefinite Leave to Remain and Expiry?

For migrants from around the world, acquiring permanent residency (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR) in the UK represents a huge landmark. Not only does it mean you are no longer subject to immigration control, but it also provides certainty that you and your family members can stay in the UK permanently. There are, however, some important rules which those with ILR must adhere to in order to keep their permanent residence status. In this article, we will explain the conditions of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), including the rules on expiry.

Why does my indefinite leave to remain BRP card expire on 31/12/2024?

We have received many enquiries in the last couple of years regarding early expiry dates on BRPs. Whereas BRPs for ILR are typically granted for ten years, those issued in recent years have often have an earlier expiry date of 31st December 2024. This also applies to those who have been given limited leave of five years.

This was done prior to 2021 as the EU required that, at the time, BRPs should include new encryption technology. As this was not available on UK BRPs, the EU required that new BRPs should not have an expiry date later of than the end of 2024. As we have now left the EU, this requirement have been removed. Despite this, because the Home Office are putting in place their own new digital technology, they are still using an expiry date of the end of 2024.

Those who have gained ILR and have a BRP with an earlier expiry of 31st December 2024 do not need to worry, however. This does not mean that your ILR and your rights that come with this come to an end, rather that your BRP card will expire. It is expected that before the expiry of these BRPs, a new online system will be in place to replace the need for a physical card. The Home Office will write to BRP card holders to advise them of this new process in due course.

Does indefinite leave to remain expire?

ILR does not expire, but in certain circumstances, ILR status can be lost. It is also important to distinguish your BRP from ILR. Even though your ILR will not expire, 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, however; rather than the card itself has simply expired and can be renewed.

Once granted, ILR comes with certain conditions which must be met in order to keep the status given. One of the key conditions to always bear in mind is that you must not leave the country for more than two years, as this will lead to your ILR status being automatically cancelled. The immigration guidance states:

“If you stay outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), for two or more years at a time, your ILE or ILR will automatically end….Your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for two or more years (5 or more, if granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) at a time. If you’re a Swiss citizen with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for four years or more in a row”.

As such, if you are travelling to a country within the common travel area, Ireland, or a UK crown dependency for more than two years, your ILR status will not be affected; if you travel to any other country for more than two continuous years, your ILR will be lost.

Under some circumstances, it may be possible to avoid the two-year absence rules, however, including if you are:

  • A partner or child accompanying a member of HM Forces overseas
  • A partner or child accompanying a permanent member of the British Council, Department for International Development, Home Office, or Foreign and Commonwealth Office overseas

Can I get my Indefinite Leave to Remain status back if it has expired?

Yes, if your ILR was lost due to being outside of the UK for more than two years, it is possible to apply for a Returning Residents Visa (RRV). If this is approved, your ILR will also be restored. The immigration guidance on RRVs states, “A person who has been absent for more than two years must apply for entry clearance as a returning resident and will be assessed by Entry Clearance Officers under paragraph 19 of the Rules”.

To be eligible for an RRV, you will need to provide evidence to show:

  • you have strong ties to the UK - for example, you or your family have lived here most of your life
  • your current circumstances and why you’ve lived outside the UK

The application for an RRV can be completed online and currently costs £516. You will also need to provide the following with your application:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • previous passports
  • a passport-sized colour photograph
  • documents that prove you have ties to the UK, for example, proof you’ve earned income, or rented or owned property, in the UK

Can my Indefinite Leave to Remain status be revoked?

The rules state that ILR can be revoked if you:

  • are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons, such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • obtained leave by deception
  • were granted leave as a refugee and cease to be a refugee

How can you help with expired ILR status and renewal?

As specialists in highly skilled migrant visas for the UK, we can take care of your RRV application or BRP renewal. To ensure your RRV application proceeds smoothly, we will work with you to ensure you have the evidence needed to prove your eligibility based on the latest guidance used by Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) and our experience of similar cases.

When working with our clients, we always take the time to explain the conditions that apply to their respective immigration status to reduce the chances that they inadvertently find themselves in breach of the rules. If you find that you have stayed outside of the UK for more than two years and your ILR has now lapsed, either due to factors outside your control or due to a genuine oversight, please be reassured that in the majority of cases, we will be able to restore your permanent resident status here. By involving us as early as possible before your return to the UK, we will take the necessary steps to restore your ILR.

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