Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Tell me about this 'indefinite leave to remain'

Published:Tuesday | June 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I was given indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom (UK), but I have been out of the country for the past two and a half years. I was told that I would need a visa to return to the UK. Is this true?

- GS

Dear GS,

If a person was previously settled, that is given 'indefinite leave to remain' in the UK, and he or she has been away for more than two years, then that person will need a 'returning resident visa' to return to the UK.

A person will not need a visa if he or she has been away for less than two years. However, that person should make the necessary checks with the British authorities to see if he/she can settle on his/her return. 'Settle' means a person is free to stay in the UK without any time restrictions.

In order for a person to be eligible for the returning resident visa, the person must plan to return to live in the UK permanently; he/she must have been settled in the UK when he/she last left the country; he/she should have been away for more than two years and not have been given any public funds to assist in leaving the UK.


The prospective returning resident must also be able to prove that he/she has strong ties to the UK. For example, he/she could show that he/she has strong family ties in the UK or that he/she has lived in the UK for most of his/her life.

It should be noted that any family members ('dependents') will need to apply separately for a returning resident visa, that is, if they are eligible. A person's dependents are generally considered to be a partner and any children under 18 years of age.

The fee for this type of application is £289 to apply and the processing times will vary from country to country and can be checked online. If successful, a person can return to live permanently in the UK.

The applicant will need to provide certain documents. He/she will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification; any previous passports; and a passport-sized colour photograph.


The applicant will also need to provide documents that prove that he/she has ties to the UK, for example, proof that he/she has earned income, or rented or owned property in the UK. An applicant may also need to provide additional documents depending on his/her circumstances.

It should be noted that the applicant must apply online for a returning resident isa and that he/she will need to have his/her fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre as part of his/her application. This is known as 'biometric information'.

An applicant may be able to get his/her visa faster or other services depending on the country that he/she is in, and it is advisable that applicants check with the visa application centre in the country where they are.

I hope that this helps.

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 (U.K.).