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UK Returning Residents

UK Returning Residents is also known as indefinite leave to remain and this is a process for the indefinite leave to remain to be re-instated. 

This provision allows someone who was a resident in the United Kingdom and who has left the UK and wants to come and live here permanently. A resident is someone who has been given permission to stay in the United Kingdom without time limit. Before you plan to travel to the UK, contact ICS Legal on 0207 237 3388 or e-mail us on If you enter the UK as a visitor, you may lose your indefinite leave to remain status. Click here to complete this visa assessment form

You need a Returning Resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled (given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and you have either:

  • lost your documentation; 

  • been away for more than 2 years. 

If you were settled in the United Kingdom when you last left, you have not been away for more than two years, and are returning to live here permanently, you may return as a resident unless you were given public funds to pay the costs of leaving the United Kingdom. If you have been away for more than two years, you may still qualify to return to live in the United Kingdom if, for example, you have strong family ties here or have lived here most of your life. 

If you have been away for more than two years, you must apply for permission to return, known as entry clearance. You should do this at the British diplomatic post in the country where you live now. The entry clearance will be in the form of a visa or entry clearance certificate. Please note that you should carry your old and new passport when travelling back to the United Kingdom. If you cannot produce the visa that shows your indefinite leave to remain, then you would not be allowed to enter. 

You don’t need a visa if you have your original documentation confirming your settled status and you’ve been away for less than 2 years. You may still need to apply for a visa if you’ve been asked to confirm you can travel to the UK, for example by the airline you’re travelling with. UK returning resident who wish to return to the UK, must plan to return to live in the UK permanently, have been settled in the UK before you last left, not have been given public funds to help you leave the UK.

If you’ve been away for more than 2 years

You won’t get a Returning Resident visa unless you’re also able to show what exceptional personal circumstances have led to you being out of the country for this long.

You must provide enough evidence to show:

  • your strong family ties to the UK;

  • you lived in the UK most of your life;

  • your current circumstances and why you’ve lived outside the UK.

You won’t lose your indefinite leave to remain after 2 years outside the UK if your spouse or partner is a member of the UK armed forces and you’ve joined them on an overseas posting. You also won’t lose it if your spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and one of the following:

  • a permanent member of the Diplomatic Service;

  • a UK-based British Council employee who works outside the UK;

  • a Department for International Development (DFID) employee;

  • a Home Office employee.

It costs £324 to apply.

How long it takes
Check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in your country.

How long you can stay
You can return to live permanently in the UK.

Help and support from ICS Legal

Complete our visa assessment form and we will provide details of whether you are eligible, by clicking here

UK Visas & Immigration Services | ICS Legal



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