Long Residence and Private Life Applications

How To Get Lawful Immigration Status In The UK After Long Residence

If you have lived continuously but unlawfully in the UK for long periods, it may be possible to obtain lawful immigration status through a long residence or private life visa.

If you have been in the UK without lawful leave to remain, you may be able to apply on grounds of the private life you have built up in the UK. Some people arrived in the UK as a visitor and did not return to their home country but never obtained lawful leave to remain in the UK. Some were brought here as children and did not realise they had no legal immigration status until they tried to find work or to study at university.

Eligibility conditions

Your application will depend on how old you are and how long you have been in the UK. Here are the different types of Private Life Applications:

  • adults who have completed 20 years of continuous residence,
  • children who have completed 7 years of residence,
  • adults (aged 18-25) who have spent half of their life in the UK
  • adults who have completed less than 20 years in the UK but there are significant obstacles to their integration to the country they would be returned to

For all the applications it is essential to show that you have actually lived continuously in the UK for the right number of years. It can be difficult to find this evidence if you have lived here without any rights and unlawfully.

The last application on the list is the most difficult, as you will have to provide strong evidence that it would be extremely difficult for you to go back to the country where you hold nationality - that you would find it very hard to earn enough to live and make your way in that country's society. It will depend on how long you have been away, how old you were when you left, and whether or not you have family or a support system there, for example.

Private Life applications carry a notoriously high rate of refusal and must be very well evidenced and prepared. However, if the application is refused initially, it will be possible to challenge that decision by appealing. Please see our section on Appeals.

Working with us on your private life or long residence application

We are expert at collecting the correct evidence, piecing it together and presenting it logically to the Home Office decision maker.

But we do more this - if necessary we assemble other evidence to show that a refusal of your application would be a breach of your human rights - specifically your right to a private life. Your private life is the networks you have built up around you in the UK. This includes friends and family, your cultural or religious connections for example. As with all our work, we do our best to avoid any gaps in the evidence. These could allow the Home Office to refuse the application.

If your application is successful, you will be placed on the Ten Year Route to Settlement. You will initially be granted 30 months' leave. You will need to keep renewing that leave until you have lived legally in the UK for 10 years. Then you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If you have children and a a partner with you, who also hold no lawful immigration leave, it is possible to include them on your application. It may be possible to argue that your child has lived in the UK for over 7 years and should not therefore be refused leave to remain - and you should be allowed to stay in the UK as their parent.

We will look at all the possibilities open to you and advise on the best course of action. We do not judge - we just give you good, solid advice. 

How does the process work?

The first step is usually our free 20 minute consultation. We can take a look at your situation and advise over the phone or face to face. It's then your choice whether you use our services.

If you use our services, we will draft a legal letter. This sets out your history to the Home Office and uses the legal framework to show why you are entitled to Leave to Remain. We will submit the application on your behalf and ensure all the right evidence gets to the Home Office. We are here to provide advice to you throughout the process.

"Without a doubt, Angela and her team are the best immigration company I have had a pleasure working with."

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We will ask you to tell us everything about your immigration history, especially if you have a criminal record or if you have ever used the NHS and been charged for the treatment. The Home Office will refuse some applications if they think your conduct is not 'suitable'. In other words, this is if you have used fraud when dealing with the Home Office previously. Please remember that we are under a duty of confidentiality. That means that nothing you tell us will be repeated outside our meeting. However, you may give your permission as part of the application process.

We do not charge by the hour for our work. We give you a price for the job - a fixed fee - at the start, so that you are not worrying about how much the legal fees are going to be. Within that fixed fee, we do all the work. Within reason, you can contact us about your case if you have questions or concerns.  

We know how important and emotional immigration applications are for our clients so we are always sensitive and practical. We care deeply about doing a good job and getting the right outcome for our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Home Office has just refused my application for Leave to Remain on Private Life grounds. What can I do?

You may be able to appeal depending on the reasons for refusal. You will have 14 days to do so. Come and see us - we will look at the refusal and advise whether an appeal has any chance of success. We can represent you if you wish to use our services. We have a high rate of success at appeal in these sorts of cases. 

I am Sri Lankan and 30 years old and I have lived here for 8 years. My wife is also Sri Lankan. We stayed in the UK after my student visa ran out and we have not had lawful leave since. I have a 7 year old daughter who was born here. Could we get lawful immigration status?

If you can persuade the Home Office that it is not reasonable to force your 7 year old daughter to leave the UK, you can apply for Leave to Remain on Private Life grounds. The law says that it is not reasonable to uproot a child from a country when she has lived there for over 7 years. You can then argue that it is in the best interests of your daughter that her parents stay in the UK.

I have lived here for 20 years without any leave to remain from the Home Office. I don't think I have any evidence of working or living here; and I have been detained in the past but I can't remember what happened. Previous applications I made have failed. Can I do anything?

We would make a 'Subject Access Request' to the Home Office. We would ask for a copy of your Home Office records so we can see what they know about you and when. It may be possible to find some sort of evidence about your past.   The best thing to do is come and see us

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How To Get Lawful Immigration Status In The UK After Long Residence
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