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Immigration Corner: Jamaican romance failed. How do I get back to the UK?

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I was living in England and, while there I was given 'indefinite leave to enter or remain'. I left the United Kingdom to return to Jamaica to be with my girlfriend. Things have not worked out and I would like to return after being here in Jamaica and out of the United Kingdom for more than a year. Will I be able to return to live there?

- S.M.


Dear SM,

You will need to apply for a returning resident visa if you would like to return to live in the United Kingdom if you were previously settled there, that is, given 'indefinite leave to enter or remain'. This visa relates to either if you have lost your documentation and/or have been away from the United Kingdom for more than two years.

A person will not need a visa if he/she has original documentation confirming his/her settled status and has been away for less than two years. A person may still need to apply for a visa if he/she has been asked, for example, by the airline that the person plans to travel with to confirm that he/she can travel to the United Kingdom,

In order to be eligible, a person must plan to return to live in the United Kingdom permanently; have been settled in the United Kingdom before he/she last left; and/or not have been given public funds to help him/her to leave the United Kingdom.

If a person has been away for more than two years, he/she will not get a returning resident visa unless that person is able to show what exceptional personal circumstances led him/her to be out of the country for such a long period of time.

A person must also provide enough evidence to show that he/she has strong family ties to the United Kingdom, has lived in the United Kingdom most of his/her life, and what are the current circumstances and why he/she was living outside of the United Kingdom. Please note that, with respect to family members, the applicant's dependents, partner and children under 18, will need to apply separately for a returning resident visa, that is, if they are eligible.


necessary documents


With respect to the necessary documents that the applicant will need to present, he/she will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification and any previous passports; a passport-size colour photograph; any documents that can be used to prove he/she has ties to the United Kingdom, for example, proof that the applicant has earned income, or rented or owned property, in the United Kingdom. The applicant may need to provide additional documents, depending on his/her circumstances.

When making the application, he/she must apply online for a returning resident visa. The applicant will need to have his/her fingerprints and photograph, these are known as 'biometric information', which are usually taken at a visa application centre as part of the application.

The fees to make such an application is £289. The processing times to obtain the visa will depend upon which country the application are made from. If the applicant is successful, then he/she will be able to live permanently in the United Kingdom.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK).