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How to apply for permanent UK residency

Published:Tuesday | June 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am a Jamaican and have been living in the United Kingdom legally for a number of years. I understand it may be possible for me to be granted permission to stay here permanently. Could you please let me know if this is so?

- H.D.

Dear H.D.,

It may be possible for you to remain and settle in the United Kingdom permanently if you are a migrant and are from outside Europe. After a migrant has lived legally in the United Kingdom for a time, he or she may be able to apply for permission to settle there. This is known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Also, if a person is applying to enter the United Kingdom as the partner or child of a British citizen, or a person who is settled there, the British authorities may be able to give him or her immediate permission to settle there permanently.

when you can apply

You should be aware that if you are presently living in the United Kingdom, your right to apply for settlement will depend on your current immigration status, and you should also be aware that if you are considering applying for settlement in the future, then you should note that the immigration rules are subject to change, and that an applicant must meet all the requirements of the immigration rules at the time you make your application. Most applicants for settlement must show they have a knowledge of language and life in the United Kingdom.

There are two ways of applying for settlement - by post or through a public enquiry office. If a person applies by post using application form SET (M), then he or she can also use the settlement-checking service to submit the application. This is a service offered by local authorities in partnership with the United Kingdom Border Agency.

As part of the application for settlement, a person must enrol his or her fingerprints and facial image, this is known as 'biometric information' and obtain a biometric residence permit, which will confirm the applicant's immigration status and entitlements. It should also be noted that any dependents, who apply at the same time as the applicant, will also need to do this. The British authorities will send you details of the enrolment process when they are in receipt of the person's application.

biometric residence permit

From Wednesday, February 29, 2012, all applicants in the United Kingdom must obtain a biometric residence permit if he or she is applying to stay there for more than six months. To obtain a permit, the applicant will need to enrol his/her biometric information, fingerprints and facial image and the applicant should ensure that the new version of the application form is used.

Also, the applicant must be in the United Kingdom when he or she is applying and using one of these application forms. You should also be aware that the application should not be sent in more than 28 days before the applicant becomes eligible to apply. If this is done, the authorities may refuse his or her application, with no refund of the application fee, that is if a fee is charged for the application type. However, applicants must make their applications before their current permission to stay in the United Kingdom expires.

Also, you should be aware that if you are already in the United Kingdom, but you have not been there long enough to apply for settlement, then you should be able to apply to extend your temporary permission to stay.

All the best.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is 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: