What is UK Private Life Visa and How to Apply?
The private life visa gives individuals the right to stay after living and establishing a private life in the UK over several years. The private life route is a category of the UK’s family immigration scheme and such applications are made on the basis of Article 8 of the ECHR1.
The amount of time a person must have lived in the UK to gain a private life visa depends on their age when they arrived here and their individual circumstances. You may be able to apply for a private life visa if:
- You are under the age of 18 and have lived in the UK for a minimum of 7 continuous years, and it would be unreasonable to expect you to leave the UK
- You are between the ages of 18 and 24, and you have lived continuously in the UK for more than half of your life
- You are 18 years old or over, and you have spent less than 20 years living here, but you would have very significant problems reintegrating into your home country
- You have been in the UK for a continuous period of 20 years, or
- You were born in the UK to a person with permission to remain in the UK on the basis of their private life (or they have submitted an application for permission on this basis)
Those considering using the private life visa UK route should bear in mind the following key points:
- All private life visa applications must be made within the UK
- It may not be possible to apply if you have made a protection or asylum claim that the Home Office says is inadmissible or might be inadmissible
- When it comes to family and private life in the UK, the Home Office gives consideration to the right to family life first before looking into an individual’s rights to private life. An immigration lawyer can advise on the implications of this rule and whether this may affect your application.
The private life visa route is one of the most complex of all immigration schemes in the UK. It is essential to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer before your application. Speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at email@example.com to discuss your private life visa.
Private life route changes in 2022
On 20th June 2022, the immigration rules for private life applications were changed. The changes introduced a new ‘Appendix Private Life’2, which applies to all new applications for permission to stay under the private life immigration route. Some of the main changes include:
- Giving a child born in the UK who has lived here for 7 or more years the right to gain immediate settlement in the UK (ILR)
- Giving a child born in the UK the right to gain permanent settlement after 5 years after gaining permission to stay on the basis of their private life.
Normally, for an adult to settle in the UK under the private life route, they must have completed 10 years of continuous residence once they have permission to stay under this route; this is referred to as the ‘private life in the UK' (10-year route). The period required to gain settlement has been reduced in these exceptional circumstances to provide greater safeguards and promote the welfare of children who have come to the UK. The new rules also introduced new separate validity, suitability, and eligibility requirements that must be met by applicants on the private life visa route.
Private life visa eligibility requirements
- The applicant must be in the UK when their application is submitted to the Home Office
- For children: applicants must have lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years, and the Home Office must be satisfied that it would not be reasonable to expect the person to leave the UK.
- For young adults who arrived in the UK before the age of 18: applicants must have spent at least half of their life living continuously in the UK.
- For adults: applicants must have been living continuously in the UK for 20 years or more. If this is not the case, the Home Office must be satisfied that there would be “very significant obstacles” to the applicant integrating if they were required to leave the UK
Some other important points to bear in mind include:
- Continuous residence includes any time spent in the UK with or without permission.
- Continuous residence does not include time spent in prison
- The period of continuity is broken if:
- the applicant spends more than 6 months outside the UK at one time, or if they spend 550 days or more outside the UK in total
- the applicant has been removed or deported, or they left the UK, and their permission to stay or enter was refused
Private life visas are typically granted for 30 or 60 months, depending on the period applied for.
Who is not eligible to apply for the private life route
Private life applications may be refused on the grounds of suitability if (please note this list is not exhaustive):
- The applicant is subject to a deportation order.
- Granting the visa would not be conducive to the public good (e.g. Due to imprisonment, offending, or in the view of the secretary of state).
- The applicant has failed to, without reasonable excuse, attend an interview, provide information, provide physical data, undergo a medical examination, or provide a medical report.
- False information, representations, or documents have been provided.
- The applicants failed to provide important facts in their application.
Child 7-year private life route
Under the child's 7-year private life route, a child (under the age of 18) who has lived in the UK for 7 continuous years can apply for a private life visa. Under this route, the Home Office will typically issue a private life visa for a period of 5 years, after which it is possible to apply for ILR. It is important to note that a child who was born in the UK can apply immediately for ILR after living here for 7 years; the 5-year requirement only applies to those who came to the UK as a child. You can find more information in our article 7 years child immigration rule in 2022
To make a successful application for a child 7-year private life visa, applicants must be:
- under 18
- present in the UK
- have lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years, and it must be considered unreasonable by the Home Office to expect the child to leave the UK.
Young adult private life route
Under the young adult private life route, it is also possible for a young adult who is aged between 18 years and 25 years who came to the UK as a child to gain a private life visa once they have spent at least half of their life here. This is also called ‘early ILR concession’. If your application for a young person’s private life visa is successful, it will normally be granted for a period of 5 years, after which you can apply for permanent settlement (ILR). You can find more information about this in our article Early ILR concession
To make a successful application for a young adult private life visa, applicants must be:
- aged between 18 and 25
- present in the UK at the time of application
- have lived continuously in the UK for at least half of their life, and it must be considered unreasonable by the Home Office to expect them to leave the UK.
20 years private life route
The 20 years private life in the UK route enables an adult who came to the UK as a migrant to secure a private life visa to remain in the UK after living here for 20 or more years. Successful applicants are normally given permission to remain for 30 months, after which they can further extend their stay. After 5 years on a private life visa as an adult, it is then possible to apply for permanent settlement (ILR).
The main criteria for those applying under the 20-year private life visa route state that applicants must be:
- aged over 18
- present in the UK at the time of application
- have lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years, and the Home Office must be satisfied that it is unreasonable to expect them to leave the UK.
A dependent child born in the UK to a person on the Private Life route
The private life route also enables dependant children who were born in the UK to a person with permission to stay on the basis of their private life (or if they are applying to stay on this basis) stay in the UK. The rules for dependant children of a person on the private life route require that applicants:
- provide a full birth certificate
- meet the relationship requirements – i.e. as a child of a parent with permission on the private life route (or if they are applying for such permission). The parent must also have the necessary parental rights for the child.
- have suitable care and accommodation in the UK
How long can you stay in the UK on a Private life visa?
The amount of time that can be spent in the UK on a private life visa varies depending on the circumstances and age of the individual. Most applicants are given permission to stay for 30 months, and this can be further extended for 30 months.
Children on the 7-year private life route and young adults between 18 and 25 who have spent at least half of their life in the UK will be given permission to remain for 60 months (5 years).
Remember, it is imperative that you submit your private life visa extension application visa or ILR application before your existing visa expires; otherwise, you risk being classed as an overstayer.
You can view our article Rules for overstaying on a UK visa for the consequences of overstaying in the UK.
Private life visa to ILR (settlement in the UK)
The private life visa allows holders to apply for ILR after a qualifying time in the UK. The amount of time required to gain ILR in the UK as a person on a private life visa depends on the age of the applicant and their circumstances. You will be able to apply for ILR on a private life visa as follows:
When to apply for ILR
Born in the UK and have remained continuously in the UK for 7 or more years
Came to the UK and have remained continuously in the UK for 7 or more years
After 5 years
Between 18 and 24
Spent half of their life in the UK
After 5 years
18 or over
Spent at least 20 years in the UK
After 10 years
Spent less than 20 years in the UK and would have very significant problems living in their home country
After 10 years
No age requirements
Born in the UK to a person with permission to stay in the UK on the basis of their private life or who is applying for such permission
After 10 years
In addition to the continuous residence requirements, ILR applicants on the private life visa route who are aged between 18 and 64 years may be required to:
- Pass the Life in the UK test
- Meet the English language requirements – i.e. have an English language qualification of CEFR level B1 in speaking and listening. You will also meet this requirement if you come from a qualifying English-speaking country or if you have a degree taught or researched in English.
How can Reiss Edwards help?
Reiss Edwards is a leading UK immigration law firm specialising in private life visas and UK immigration matters. Our immigration solicitors can:
- Review your circumstances and those of your dependants to advise on the most efficient immigration routes for your needs
- Prepare your private life application for you and your dependants
- Apply for permanent settlement in the UK once you reach the qualifying period for ILR
- Handle a refusal of a private life application
- Prepare your British citizenship application
For assistance on the UK’s private life routes, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Home Office: Immigration Rules Appendix Private Life