20 Year Long Residence for UK Immigration law purposes, means an Applicant has stayed continuously (lawfully or unlawfully) in the UK without leaving the UK. Even if an Applicant leaves the UK for one day to visit another country and then returns, this will be a break in the continuous residence. The 20 Year Long Residence route generally is for applicants who have been living in the UK unlawfully without a valid leave for all or part of their continuous residence in the UK.
You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain if you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years (known as ‘long residence’).

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.

You must meet all the eligibility requirements.
An Applicant’s salary is made up of the guaranteed gross basic pay. 

This is an Applicant’s salary before income tax and including employee pension and national insurance contributions. Payments which cannot be taken into account when calculating the Applicant’s salary include, but are not limited to:
  • Allowances;
  • Overtime payments, whether guaranteed or not;
  • Business expenses payments, including hotels (both in and outside the UK), international travel and hotel within the UK;
  • Medical benefits such as health insurance;
  • Employer pension and employer national insurance contributions;
  • Payment of tuition fees;
  • One-off payments including relocation costs not included in the applicant’s regularly salary package; 
  • Any payments relating to immigration costs;
  • Other payments which cannot be guaranteed including bonuses or incentive pay. 
The UK Skilled Worker general salary threshold of £25,600 or 100% of the ‘going rate’ for that occupation (as set out in the relevant occupation code), whichever is higher, unless an exception applies.
The salary requirement for new entrants is £20,480 per year or 70% of the ‘going rate’ for the occupation. A migrant will qualify as a new entrant if one or more of the following applies:
  1. The Applicant was under 26 on the date the application was made;
  2. The Applicant is sponsored for a postdoctoral position in one of the following occupations:
    1.  2111 Chemical scientists;
    2. 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists;
    3. 2113 Physical scientists;
    4. 2114 Social and humanities scientists;
    5. 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified;
    6. 2311 Higher education teaching professionals 
  3. The Applicant is working towards a recognised professional qualification in a profession which is UK regulated; 
  4. The Applicant is working towards full registration or chartered status with the relevant professional body for their sponsored job;
  5. The Applicant is switching from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa;
  6. The Applicant’s most recent permission, other than as a visitor, was under the Graduate route in which their permission is current or expired less than 2 years before the date of application.
  7. The Applicant’s most recent visa was as a Student as well as the following:
    • The student visa expired less than 2 years before the date of application; and
    • In that student visa, or previous student visa, the Applicant was sponsored to study a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK master’s degree, a UK PhD or other doctoral qualification, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or a Professional Graduate Diploma of Education; and
    • The Applicant completed (or are applying no more than 3 months before their completion date) the course mentioned above, or the Applicant is studying a PhD and has completed at least 12 months study in the UK towards the PhD.
Indefinite leave to remain in the UK means that there is no time limit on a person to be resident in the UK; the person holding an ILR is ‘settled’ and their home is in the UK.  
This status cannot be lost unless a person stays outside the UK for a continuous period of two years or more; even then an application can be made to have the status reinstated by making a ‘returning resident’ application; or, if someone has spent more than 10 years in the UK before a lengthy absence, upon return to the UK they make an application for indefinite leave to remain based on this ‘historic’ 10 year period of residence.

If you are deported from the UK your indefinite leave will be invalidated.
Indefinite leave can also be taken away (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
Your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for 2 or more years (5 or more, if granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) at a time.
Applicants who are granted Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) at a visa issuing Post should have no time restrictions on their stay in the UK, that is, they can stay indefinitely. ILE carries the same entitlement as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR) which is issued by the UK Border Agency to those who have already travelled to the UK. Anyone who has ILE does not have to apply for ILR when in the UK.

Although indefinite leave, by definition, will not expire, the ECO is unable to issue a visa to those who meet the criteria for ILE without putting a ‘validity date’ on the visa. In cases of ILE the ‘validity date’ on the visa should match the expiry date on the passport. When the applicant gets a new passport, they can apply to UK Border Agency for a transfer of conditions into their new passport. They do not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Such leave will not expire despite having no dates of expiry, but you can apply to have the stamp put in a renewed passport.

One can evidence their Indefinite Leave to Remain in various ways.
  • a stamp in an expired passport, which might state that the bearer of the passport has ‘indefinite leave to enter’, or ‘indefinite leave to remain’.  
  • a paper document which state that there is no time limit on their residence in the UK.  
  • Some may have no particular physical evidence at all, but will have evidence to show they have lawfully resided in the UK for many years.
  • EU nationals may have cards which state that they have ‘permanent residence’ in the UK, which should have been used by the deadlines or should be used in a late application for ‘Settled Status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme
Increasingly those without BRPs are being asked for them as proof of having ‘indefinite leave to remain status, such as to prove entitlement to be lawfully employed or to benefits.

  • Travel - Home Office website provides that you must travel with your current passport and your expired passport which has the stamp, and show the two together when you enter.
  • you can apply to replace the stamp, either by having it placed into your current passport or by applying for a biometric residence permit (BRP).
    You can also choose to either:
    • replace your visa with a biometric residence permit if you’re in the UK (the cost depends on your visa status)
    • transfer your visa to a new passport online if you’re outside the UK (it costs £154)
  • Employment - stamps in expired passports cannot be used to prove the right to work. 
  • You cannot use a valid visa in your expired passport to prove you have the right to work in the UK. 
  • You cannot use a valid visa in your expired passport to prove you have the right to work in the UK. 
  • Identity, study and public benefits - The Home Office website indicates that in order to prove identity, the right to study and to public benefits, you need your BRP.
  • If you have settled or pre-settled status
    You can continue to use your residence card until it expires. You do not need to apply for a new one.
    Until it expires, you can use it to:
    • help you re-enter the country more quickly and easily if you travel abroad
    • show employers you’re allowed to work in the UK
    • help prove you qualify for certain benefits and services
  • Thereafter, or if you do not have a BRP, your settled status can be checked online.  

If you believe that you have ILR or ILE but do not have a document to prove it, you can make a no time limit (NTL) application for confirmation of your status in the form of a biometric residence permit (BRP).
You can apply for NTL if:
  • your passport containing your status or previous NTL endorsement has been lost, stolen or has expired
  • you have ILR or ILE but you do not have any documentary evidence confirming this
  • you have legitimately changed your identity since being granted indefinite leave and want this confirmed on a BRP
People with recognised refugee status in the UK or with a grant of humanitarian protection may sponsor certain family members to join them in the UK. Refugees who were admitted to the UK under resettlement schemes may also sponsor family members. 
Only ‘pre-flight’ family members of refugees can be sponsored under the family reunion rules. This means that the relationship must have been established before the refugee flee their country of origin or their country of former habitual residence. 

  • Applications for refugee family reunion are free of charge. 
  • If successful, the family member of the refugee will be granted entry clearance for the same time period as their sponsor in the UK. 
  • An application will not be granted if the applicant is excluded from protection, for example, due to criminality or war crimes. 

Once a refugee has obtained indefinite leave to remain or become a British citizen, the normal immigration Rules to sponsor family members (in Appendix FM) will apply and family members will no longer be able to rely on the rules for refugee family reunion.