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UK Resident Return Visa – FAQs

If you have been granted Permanent Residence (ILR), you can stay in the UK indefinitely.

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What is a Resident Return Visa?

If you have been granted Permanent Residence (ILR), you can stay in the UK indefinitely. However, the law states that you can lose your ILR status if you spend more than 2 years outside the country.

If you have been absent from the UK for an extended period, you can still retain your ILR status. You are not required to apply for entry clearance, and you can freely go back to the UK.

Do I need a Resident Return Visa?

When you reach the UK border, the immigration officer can let you re-enter the country if you:

  • Held an ILR status before you last left the UK;
  • Have not been absent from the country for more than 2 years;
  • Have not sought assistance from public funds to pay for your trip;
  • Commit to settling in the UK.

If you wish to re-entry the UK after 2 or more years of absence, you must apply for entry clearance. The Entry Clearance Officers will return a Resident Visa after assessing your case.  If you travel to a UK port of entry without your Return Visa, you will not be readmitted.

Entering the UK: Resident Return Visa checklist

Before you submit your Resident Return Visa application, you should check if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have evidence of your previous ILR status in your passport;
  • You hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BPR) (if applicable);
  • Your departure from the UK was not financed by public funds;
  • You wish to enter the country to settle ultimately;
  • You can provide evidence to explain the reasons for your absence;
  • If you are returning to the UK for work or study purposes, you still intend to remain on completion of your projects.

What evidence do I need to get my Returning Resident Visa?

Immigrant officers may ask you to prove your strong ties to the UK. To support your Resident Return Visa application, you can present the following documents:

  • Details of your family member living in the UK;
  • Marriage certificates or other information about your marital status.
  • Evidence of estate properties in the UK;
  • Letters of enrolment or attendance at an educational institution;
  • Letters of employment detailing your salary and role within your company;
  • Proof of your business interests;
  • Utility bills or council tax statements;
  • A written statement from a medical professional if your absence was due to medical reasons.

Since this list is not exhaustive, you can submit various documents to maximise your chances to get your Return Visa. In the case the evidence of your commitment to settle in the UK are not sufficient, the Home Office may summon you for an interview.

If you are in doubt about your supporting documentation, one of our immigration solicitors will be happy to help.

How to apply for Return Resident Visa?

You can submit your Return Resident Visa application online. If you wish to apply in person, you can use one of the fast-track services available at your local Embassy.

Along with your application form, you must submit the following documentation:

  • Your valid passport and your national identification document;
  • Copies of your previous passports to show your travel history;
  • Evidence of your entitlement to ILR;
  • A passport-sized colour photograph;
  • Evidence of your ties to the UK. This includes mortgage or council tax statements, utility bills or tenancy agreements.

As part of your application, you will have your fingerprints collected. If you are travelling with your dependents, they need to submit a separate application for their Return Visa.

Before you can enter the UK, you must also pay your application fees. The Resident Return Visa cost is £531 (as of February 2023) for each applicant.

How long does it take to get a Resident Return Visa?

Your Resident Return Visa processing time depends on your current circumstances. If your case is particularly complex, you may need to wait several weeks before getting your Return Visa.

For this reason, it is recommended to apply for your permit in time before you travel. You can apply in person at your local Consulate, but this does not alter your Resident Return Visa processing time. In case of delays, your lawyer can liaise with the Home Office to review the status of your application.

Do I need a Resident Return Visa?

The following categories are exempt from the loss of their ILR even after 2 years of absence from the UK:

  • Members of armed forces and dependents;
  • Home Office employees and dependents;
  • Holders of a passport issued in the UK and Islands before 1 January 1973;
  • Employees of Commonwealth Offices overseas.

It is important to note that this exemption only applies if the reason for the absence is serving overseas in one of the above capacities.

Do you need assistance with your Resident Return Visa Application?

At IAS, we are expert UK immigration lawyers. We understand that the ILR application process is not easy and that losing your status can be frustrating.

For this reason, if you wish to re-enter the UK, we can offer you our best legal advice and support to get your Return Resident Visa.

We will check your documentation and assess your eligibility. We can also help if you wish to apply at a UK port of entry.

Get in touch with one of our best advisors today to start your Returning Resident Visa application. Contact our LondonManchester, or Birmingham immigration lawyers, or use the office finder to find your nearest branch.

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