Applying for entry clearance as a returning resident
Produced in partnership with Unnati Bhatt
Applying for entry clearance as a returning resident

The following Immigration guidance note Produced in partnership with Unnati Bhatt provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applying for entry clearance as a returning resident
  • Special arrangements for certain Commonwealth citizens and their family members
  • Entry clearance
  • Entry clearance where the two-year rule is met but the holder has lost their original documentation
  • Applications for entry clearance where the two-year rule is not met
  • Application procedure
  • Dependants
  • General grounds for refusal
  • Grant of entry clearance
  • Challenging a refusal
  • more

Indefinite leave to enter or remain normally lapses if a person has been absent from the UK for a continuous period of more than two years. For further information about this general rule and details about the categories of people who are exempt, see Practice Note: Types of returning resident, the two-year rule and returning for settlement.

Prior to 6 July 2018, the Immigration Rules, Part 1, para 19 contained a discretion to readmit a person as a returning resident in certain exceptional circumstances, where the two-year rule was not met. It was possible for this discretion to be exercised in the context of an entry clearance application or at the border.

The Immigration Rules for returning residents were substantially redrafted with effect from 6 July 2018. For information on the background and effect of the redraft, see Practice Note: Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, HC 1154—analysis.

With effect from 6 July 2018, Immigration Rules, Part 1, para 19 states that a returning resident who wishes to resume their residence in the UK after a continuous absence of more than two years must be granted indefinite leave to enter via entry clearance. When read with Immigration Rules, Part 1, para 18, the requirements for entry clearance are that the person:

  1. held indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK when they

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