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UK Returning Resident Visa Guidance

The UK Returning Resident Visa (RRV) allows foreign nationals who previously held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) but have been away from the UK for 2 or more years to return here. While ILR allows permanent settlement in the UK, anyone with ILR who leaves the country for 2 or more years automatically loses their status as a settled person and, hence, their right to return. If you have indefinite leave to remain 2 years absence, you will need to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident.

There are some exceptional circumstances under which ILR does not lapse if you leave the UK for 2 or more years, including if you are a:

  • Spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, or same-sex partner accompanying a member of the HM Forces serving or government representative working overseas (i.e. permanent members of the Diplomatic Service, UK-based British Council employees, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) employees, and Home Office employee).
  • British Dependent Territories Citizen (BDTC), British National (Overseas), British Overseas Citizen (BOC), British Protected Person (BPP), or a British Subject (BS) with a British passport.

Returning resident visa requirements

In order to be qualified for returning resident visa, you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Have held Indefinite Leave to Remain when you last left the UK
  • Have not received financial support from the British Home Office to meet the cost of departing the UK
  • Intend to settle in the UK

You will not qualify for an RRV if you:

  • have lost your Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • wish to re-enter the United Kingdom while holding valid limited leave to remain or enter
  • have been removed from the UK because you pose a threat to public welfare or are liable to a deportation order

To make a successful RRV application to the Home Office, you will need to prove that you have strong ties to the UK and explain your current circumstances and why you left the UK for more than 2 years, e.g., to care for family members, for work, to seek medical treatment, to travel, or for study.

The Home Office will take into account how long you spent in the UK before you left and how long you spent outside the UK. If any other compelling or compassionate reason for leaving the UK for more than 2 years can be provided and evidenced, this will also strengthen your RRV application.

Proving you have ‘strong ties’ to the UK

The most important part of the UK return resident visa application is proving that you have strong ties to the UK. This may include:

  • family ties: having immediate family members in the UK, including parents, spouse, partner, children, or grandchildren, will be considered to be strong ties and help justify your application. The extent of any contact you have is also taken into account. Consideration is also given to wider family members, including cousins or nieces and nephews, but to a lesser extent.
  • property or business ties: any property/business interests you can demonstrate in the UK will add to your case for an RRV. It is important to note that if you only have property or business ties, this may not be sufficient to prove your eligibility for an RRV. Therefore, if you can show the addition of family ties, this will strengthen your position.

Ultimately, what you need to prove is that you had a strong reason for leaving the UK for more than 2 years, you have strong connections to the UK, and you genuinely wish to return to settle.

How to apply for a returning resident visa UK

The process to apply for a returning resident visa UK is as follows:

  1. Complete and submit the RRV application form1 on the Home Office website
  2. Pay the application fee of £531
  3. Book and attend an appointment at your nearest visa application centre (VAC) to have your fingerprints and photo taken (your biometrics)
  4. Provide any documents required by the Home Office, including your passport, evidence of ties to the UK, and evidence of your reason for spending a long time outside the UK.

A returning resident visa is normally processed within 3 weeks. Depending on the services available at your local visa application center, you may be able to pay an extra fee for a faster decision.

Other alternatives to returning resident visa UK

If you are not eligible for a UK resident return visa, you may have other options available to regain your right to settle in the UK. One such option is the ILR long residence route. To meet the requirements for long residence, you must have spent 10 or more continuous years living legally in the UK (it does not matter what type of visas you held during this period). Continuous residence means you have not spent more than 180 days at a time or 540 days or more in total outside the UK. You will also need to pass the Life in the UK test and prove your English language proficiency.

If you are unsure what is a returning resident visa UK, you need any assistance with applying for a returning resident visa, or to discuss the other settlement routes available to you, speak to one of our knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or email us at


1 GOV.UK: RRV application form

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