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 private life application.

Some people arrived in the UK as a visitor or a student and did not return to their home country but never obtained lawful permission to stay in the UK. Some came to the UK 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,
  • young 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 high rate of refusal and you must provide strong evidence in support. However, if you receive a refusal of your application, it will usually be possible to challenge that decision by appealing. Please see our section on Appeals.

Settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain

Settlement is permanent legal immigration status. A settled person no longer has to worry about renewing their permission to stay. If you are an adult over 25 years old and your private life application is successful, you will be on the Ten Year Route to Settlement. You will initially be granted 30 months' permission to stay in the UK. You will need to keep renewing that permission until you have lived legally in the UK for 10 years. Then you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain on the Long Residence Route.

Special Rules for Children and Young Adults

Children who were born in the UK and have lived here for 7 years can apply immediately for 'settlement' or Indefinite Leave to Remain. The law generally considers that it is unreasonable to expect a child to leave the UK who has spent 7years here.

Children who were not born in the UK and are here without legal immigration status can apply for further permission to stay on the private life route if they have lived here for 7 years. They can apply for 'settlement' or Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years on the private life route rather than 10 years.

Young adults between 18 and 25 who are on the private life route can apply for Indefinite Leave to remain after 5 years rather than 10 years.

Working with us on your private life 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.

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 Permission to Stay. We will submit the application on your behalf and ensure all the right evidence gets to the Home Office. Throughout the process we are here to provide advice to you.

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

Ars Pog

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, 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 Permission to Stay 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 permission to stay 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 Permission to Stay 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 permission to stay 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
Find out more about Long Residence and Private Life applications by giving us a call or emailing if you believe you may be eligible.
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