Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Immigration Corner | I want to return to the UK

Published:Tuesday | February 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I was previously given 'indefinite leave to enter or remain' in the United Kingdom, but I have been out of the country for a while. I am being advised that I need to apply for a visa. Is this so? I would like to return to the United Kingdom.

- S.F.

Dear S.F.,

Persons will need a returning resident visa to go back to live in the United Kingdom if they were previously settled, that is given 'indefinite leave to enter or remain', and they have either lost their documentation; or been away for more than two years.

Persons do not need a visa if they have their original documentation confirming settled status and have been away for less than two years.

However, they may still need to apply for a visa if they have been asked to confirm that they can travel to the United Kingdom, for example, by the airline with which they plan to travel.

In order to be eligible, persons must plan to return to live in the United Kingdom permanently; have been settled in the United Kingdom before last leaving; and not have been given public funds to help leave the United Kingdom.

It should be noted that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU as a result of the referendum.

If persons have been away for more than two years, they will not get a returning resident visa unless they are also able to show what exceptional personal circumstances have led to them being out of the country for that period. In addition, those persons must provide enough evidence to show their strong family ties to the United Kingdom; they lived in the United Kingdom for most of their life; their current circumstances and why they have lived outside the United Kingdom.




Persons will not lose their indefinite leave to remain after two years being outside of the United Kingdom if their spouse or partner is a member of the United Kingdom armed forces and they have joined them on an overseas posting.

Also, persons will not lose their indefinite leave to remain if their spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom and one of the following applies: he/she is a permanent member of the diplomatic service; a UK-based British council employee who works outside the UK; a Department for International Development employee; and a Home Office employee.

Please note that family members, that is 'dependants' (partner and children under 18 years), need to apply separately for a returning resident visa if they are eligible.

It costs £405 to make the application, and persons should check to find out how long it might take to get a visa in the country from which they are applying. If the applicant is successful, he/she can return to live permanently in the United Kingdom.

The documents that will need to be provided by the applicant are: a current passport or other valid travel identification; previous passports; a passport-sized colour photograph; documents that prove that they have ties to the United Kingdom, for example, proof of earned income in the United Kingdom, or rented or owned property in the United Kingdom. Also, persons may need to provide additional documents depending on their circumstances.

With respect to making the application, persons must apply online for a returning resident visa. They will need to have their fingerprints and photograph, known as 'biometric information', taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

- 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). Email