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What Is UK Residence Permit and UK Residence Visa?

A UK residence permit is issued by the Home Office and allows the holder to prove their identity and their rights to live, study, work, and/or access public services while in the UK. On the other hand, a UK residence visa is an immigration document that allows a person to enter the border and stay in the country for a certain amount of time.

The most commonly held type of UK residence permit is the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). BRPs contain a holder’s personal details (including their name, date, and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints). Importantly BRPs also show the holder’s immigration status and entitlements in the UK. BRPs are sometimes referred to as a ‘Residence Permit’ or ‘Short Stay Permit’ and are only required by those coming to the UK for 6 months or more.

How to apply for a residence permit in the UK

To acquire a BRP, you will normally apply at the same time as applying for your visa, whether this is done inside the UK or outside. You will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) if you are outside the UK or at a UKVCAS office if inside the UK. The details of how to do this will be provided during the visa application process.

Please note it is no longer possible to apply for a UK residence card (also referred to as an EEA biometric residence card (or BRC). Instead, applicants should consider applying for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

Types of UK residence permit the UK

There are two main types of British resident permits; ‘leave to remain’ and ‘indefinite leave to remain (ILR)’. There is also another type of residence permission, ‘leave outside the rules’, which is granted in exceptional circumstances.

Leave to remain

If a residence permit shows that an overseas national has to leave to remain in the UK, it means they have permission to stay here for a certain amount of time and for a specific purpose. Those who have leave to remain are subject to immigration control and must adhere to the conditions attached to their leave. If you have leave to remain, it is important that you take appropriate action before your leave expires. This means you will either need to leave the UK, apply for another visa for which you are eligible, or extend your visa.

All successful visa applications lead to “leave to remain” being granted, including work visas, business visas, and family visas. Depending on the type of visa you hold, after a qualifying period, you may be able to apply for ILR (normally after 5 years).

You may also see reference to the terms ‘limited leave to remain’ and ‘further leave to remain’. Limited leave to remain is the same as leave to remain and means that your stay in the UK is subject to certain conditions as to what you can do and how long you can stay. For example, a person with a Skilled Worker visa may be able to stay in the UK for 5 years and work in an eligible job, study, bring their immediate family members, do additional work, do voluntary work, travel outside of the UK, and apply for ILR after 5 years in the UK. Skilled Worker visa holders cannot, however, apply for public benefits or change jobs or employers.

Further leave to remain (FLR) refers to an application to extend or renew an existing visa. Not all visas permit holders to apply for Further leave to remain; hence it is important to check if this is possible for your specific visa type. An example of further leave to remain is applying to extend a student visa for those who wish to move to a master’s level course or applying to extend a spouse visa after the initial period of 33 months.

Indefinite leave to remain

A person with Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) has permission to remain in the UK permanently. It should be noted, however, that ILR can be lost if you leave the UK for more than 2 continuous years. Importantly, if you hold an ILR residence permit, you are no longer subject to the same restrictions you were previously as a visa holder. This means you can live, study, work, access healthcare, access some benefits, and travel freely.

ILR is typically gained by living in the UK on a visa that qualifies for ILR for the required amount of time. In most cases, an overseas national must live continuously in the UK for 5 or more years on a qualifying visa to gain ILR, although this can be achieved in 3 years in some cases, e.g. for those with a Global Talent visa.

Leave outside the rules (LOTR)

Leave outside the rules (LOTR) is granted to an overseas national in circumstances where the normal immigration rules do not apply. LOTR is typically only granted in very limited situations, including where there are compelling, compassionate factors where refusal would result in “unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family”; this may include:

  • For discretionary reasons such as a family bereavement or medical emergency, and
  • Under family and private life rules (where Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is engaged), e.g. where it can be shown there would be insurmountable obstacles to family life with a partner if required to live outside of the UK

To grant LOTR, the Home Office will normally exercise its discretion given the circumstances, and this will typically b given for a short period of no more than 30 months.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

As a leader in UK immigration law, Reiss Edwards can assist with your UK visa application, including:

  • Explaining the types of UK Residence Visas available to you
  • Preparing your application for a UK Residence Permit and UK Residence Visa
  • Overcome any difficulties in securing a UK Residence Permit and UK Residence Visa on your behalf
  • Deal with the Home Office regarding your UK Residence Permit and UK Residence Visa
  • Advise on gaining Leave to Remain, ILR, LOTR, and citizenship in the UK.

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Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

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