Wed | Dec 8, 2021

Immigration Corner | Applying for a Returning Resident visa

Published:Tuesday | April 27, 2021 | 12:09 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have been out of the United Kingdom (UK) for the past three years. I would like to know if I will experience any problems when I return, given the fact that I had indefinite leave to remain when I left the country.


Dear JT,

Persons will need a Returning Resident visa to go back to live in the United Kingdom if they were previously settled and given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’ and if they have been away for more than two years.

Persons who have been away for less than two years but have lost their documentation, can get a replacement Biometric Residence Permit visa. However, persons 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 that they plan to travel with.


To be eligible for this visa, persons must fulfil the following criteria:

• They must plan to return to live in the UK permanently;

• They must have been settled in the UK before they last left;

• They must not have been given public funds to help them leave the UK.

If persons have been away for more than two years, they must provide enough evidence to show that they have strong ties to the UK. They must also show their current circumstances and why they have lived outside the UK.

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

Persons also will not lose it if their spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and one of the following:

• A permanent member of the diplomatic service;

• A UK-based British Council employee who works outside the UK;

• A Department for International Development employee;

• A Home Office employee.

Please be aware that dependents (partner and children under 18 years of age) need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa, if they are eligible.


Persons should check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa, having applied from their country. The cost of the application is £516. If successful, persons can return to live permanently in the UK.


Persons will need to provide the following documents when applying:

• A current passport or other valid travel identification

• Previous passports;

• A colour passport sized photograph;

• Documents that prove the applicant has ties to the UK; for example, proof they have earned income, or rented or owned property, in the UK

Those persons may need to provide additional documents, depending on their circumstances. To ensure compliance, persons are encouraged to read the guide for a full list of documents they need to provide.

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.

Please note that applicants may be able to get their visa faster, depending on what country they are in. Persons should check with their visa application centre.

Good luck.

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, global vice president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: