Returning Resident Visa

Returning Resident Visa

A Returning Resident Visa enables ILR holders to return to the UK if they have been away for 2 years.

Awards and Accreditations

If you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain but have lived outside the UK for more than two years, you will need to ask for permission to return to the UK. 

While this process can be complex and daunting, the legal team at Sterling Immigration will ensure that the application and supporting evidence are prepared to the highest possible standard to ensure that you can return to the UK quickly with minimal disruption and expense.


If a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain leaves the UK, they may resume their residence in the UK without the need for entry clearance if they:

  1. Had indefinite leave to enter/remain when they last left the UK,
  2. Have not been away for more than two years,
  3. Did not receive assistance towards the cost of leaving,
  4. Are seeking admission to continue their life in the UK on a permanent basis.

A person who has been away for more than two years but who can demonstrate that they have strong ties to the UK and intends to make it their permanent home may be granted indefinite leave to enter upon application for entry clearance.

Exceptions to the Returning Residence Requirements

There are certain exceptions to the limit of being absent from the UK for two years for those Indefinite Leave to Remain holders who were absent while accompanying their partner who is

  1.  a member of HM Forces serving overseas; or
  2.  a British citizen or is settled in the UK and
  1. A permanent member of HM Diplomatic Service,
  2. A comparable UK-based permanent staff member of the British Council,
  3. A permanent staff member of the Department for International Development; or

A permanent Home Office employee.

Applying for a Returning Resident Visa

Our expert UK immigration lawyers can assist you with applying for a returning resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled and you have misplaced your permanent residence documentation or have been outside the UK for more than two years.


It is important that you were established in the UK before you left and that you plan to return to live in the UK permanently.

Returning Resident Visa Factors

The longer you have been away, the more imperative it is to show that exceptional circumstances have caused you to remain out of the UK for this long. The key factors that the UK visa officer will consider include an assessment of the following:

  1. The length of your original residence in the United Kingdom,
  2. The length of time you have been outside the United Kingdom,
  3. The reason for remaining outside the United Kingdom for more than two years,
  4. Whether the reasons for remaining outside the United Kingdom were beyond your control,
  5. Whether it is reasonable to have expected you to return within two years,
  6. Why you went abroad when you did, and what were your intentions,
  7. The nature of your family ties in the United Kingdom – how close are they, and to what extent have you maintained them in your absence,
  8. Whether you have a home in the United Kingdom,
  9. The likelihood of you living in the UK permanently if your application is granted.
  10. Whether you have a history of stable employment in the United Kingdom, and
  11. The strength of your ties to the country where you have lived since leaving the United Kingdom.

The longer a person has remained outside the United Kingdom over two years, the more difficult it will be for him to qualify for admission under the discretion contained in the UK immigration rules.

Other Considerations

Other circumstances which may apply in favor of an applicant include:

  • Employment overseas,
  • Service abroad for the United Kingdom Government, as an employee of a quasi/government body, a British company, or a United Nations organization,
  • Employment overseas in the public service of a friendly country by a person who could not reasonably be expected to settle in that country on a permanent basis,
  • A prolonged period of study abroad by a person who wished to rejoin his family here at the end of his studies,
  • Protracted medical treatment abroad, which was not readily available in the UK,
  • Whether the person contacted a UK visa post abroad within two years to express their future intention to return to the United Kingdom.

Returning Resident Visa Refused?

If your returning resident visa application has been refused, our legal team can advise you on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision through an appeal to the Immigration Tribunal.

How our UK Immigration Lawyers Can Help

The legal team at Sterling Immigration regularly assists foreign nationals to settle in the UK.

Whether you require expert advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules, an independent assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a returning resident visa, or professional assistance with preparing an immigration application or appeal, our expert UK immigration lawyers can help.

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UK Legal Advice

Book your UK visa application appointment in USA.

UK Immigration Frequently Asked Questions

Our team of UK immigration lawyers will handle your case promptly and diligently until you achieve the desired outcome. Your dedicated UK immigration attorney will provide you with an estimated processing period for your case and keep you informed through each stage of the UK visa process. To expedite the processing of your application, we will ensure that your forms are meticulously completed and that you provide sufficient supporting documentation.

However, please note that the UKVI processing time depends on several factors including the volume of cases the UKVI is receiving and whether there are any priority programs where UKVI gives precedence to applicants from war torn countries or countries affected by natural disasters.

We can offer a fast-track service if your application is time sensitive. Please schedule a consultation to learn more about this package and all the services provided by our immigration lawyers.

Hiring one of our qualified UK immigration attorneys can offer several benefits when applying for a visa. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. Expertise and Knowledge: Our UK immigration attorneys specialize in all aspects of UK immigration law and are well-versed in the complexities of the UK visa application process. They stay updated with the latest changes in immigration laws and regulations, ensuring that your application is accurate and compliant.
  2. Personalized Advice: Our immigration attorneys can assess your specific circumstances, understand your immigration goals, and provide tailored advice based on your situation. They can determine the most suitable visa category for you, explain the requirements, and help you gather the necessary supporting documents.
  3. Application Preparation: Immigration lawyers can assist you in completing and organizing your visa application. They have experience in preparing the necessary paperwork, filling out forms correctly, and ensuring that all required documentation is included. This can help reduce the chances of errors or omissions that could lead to delays or a rejected application.
  4. Increased Approval Chances: With their expertise, our qualified UK immigration lawyers can identify any potential weaknesses or issues in your application and address them proactively. They can highlight your qualifications, skills, and experiences effectively to demonstrate your eligibility for the visa. This can increase your chances of a successful application.
  5. Legal Representation: If your visa application is complex or encounters challenges, having one of our skilled immigration lawyers on your side can be invaluable. They can communicate with the UK Home Office or immigration authorities on your behalf, prepare detailed and persuasive legal submissions and provide guidance throughout the process.

Time and Stress Management: Navigating the UK visa application process can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the requirements. By hiring one of our immigration lawyers, you can offload the paperwork, legal aspects, and administrative tasks to them, allowing you to focus on other important matters.

Our experienced UK immigration attorneys provide specialist legal advice and representation on all aspects of UK immigration law, to individuals and businesses. Our services can be classified as:

  • Initial Immigration Consultations
  • Immigration Application Preparation and Submission (Full Representation)
  • Immigration Application Checking Service
  • Sponsor License Applications and Corporate Immigration Services

Regardless of the service you require, you can be assured that you will have direct access to a specialist UK immigration lawyer who has an in-depth understanding of UK immigration law and procedure. Our flexible services are delivered professionally and are tailored to your individual situation. Please schedule a consultation to learn more about our cost-effective UK immigration solutions and the services provided by our immigration lawyers.