Types of returning resident, the two-year rule and returning for settlement
Produced in partnership with Unnati Bhatt
Types of returning resident, the two-year rule and returning for settlement

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

  • Types of returning resident, the two-year rule and returning for settlement
  • Indefinite leave
  • Categories of returning resident
  • No time limit on return—holders of UK passports issued before 1 January 1973
  • No time limit on return—family members of serving members of the UK armed forces and government agencies
  • Lapsing leave unless return within two years
  • What is the two-year rule?
  • The two-year rule requirements in detail
  • Indefinite leave when last left the UK
  • Indefinite leave when last left the UK—what if the last stamp given is unclear?
  • More...

Types of returning resident, the two-year rule and returning for settlement

Indefinite leave

People with indefinite leave in the UK:

  1. have no limit on the amount of time they can spend in the UK, and

  2. cannot have conditions attached to their stay, eg their ability to work or claim social security benefits in the UK cannot be restricted for immigration reasons. For information about conditions of leave, see Practice Note: Conditions of permission to enter or stay in the UK.

However, people with indefinite leave still enter and stay in the UK by permission and therefore remain subject to immigration control. This control is most frequently experienced when seeking re-entry to the UK as a returning resident, ie when returning to resume residence in the UK.

Indefinite leave is frequently referred to as settlement, or having settled status or permanent residence in the UK. In this Practice Note, the term 'indefinite leave' will be used to mean leave with no limit on its duration as defined in Immigration Act 1971 (IA 1971).

Categories of returning resident

There are two types of returning resident:

  1. those who can resume residence irrespective of the length of their absence from the UK (of which there are two sub-categories: those who hold certain types of UK passports issued before 1 January 1973; and partners and children of members of the UK armed forces serving overseas),

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