March 20, 2019 In general

Time Spent Outside the UK for ILR and Citizenship Applications

With the outbreak of the pandemic and travel bans, one of the most pressing concerns for our clients was the length of stay in the UK required for applications.

We are writing this letter for our clients who have had to spend a significant amount of time outside the UK and are concerned about their indefinite residence/citizenship applications.


When does it begin?

In the ECAA route, the period required for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is 5 years, as is the case with most visa types.
This period is calculated based on whichever of the following factors is in your favour:

• 5 years from the date of application for indefinite leave to remain
• 5 years from the date your ECAA visa is accepted,
• At the very earliest, 28 days before the end of the five-year period

It should be noted that looking back from one of the above dates, the person must have begun living in the UK 5 years ago and it must have been 5 years since. Online applications are accepted up to 28 days before this date

How long can you stay outside the United Kingdom?

The applicant must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period.

Is there an exception due to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

If an applicant has not been in the UK for more than 180 days due to coronavirus and/or Covid-19 related travel restrictions, such absence may be justified as a ‘serious, or compelling reason’ and the person may be granted indefinite leave to remain.
Applicants must provide evidence in the form of a supporting letter outlining their situation, including:

• Dates they were ill or in quarantine
• Details of the compelling reason for such absence
• Any supporting documents, such as a medical certificate or, if applicable, evidence of travel disruption
It should be noted that this exception will be considered on an individual and case-by-case basis.


When does it start?

There is an important and frequently overlooked rule for applying for citizenship. You must have been physically present in the UK on the first day of the qualifying period.

• For example, if your application was received on 05/05/2021, you must have been physically present in the UK on 06/05/2016.

Applications that do not comply with this requirement may be rejected.

What about time spent outside the UK?

For your citizenship application, you must have not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the 5 years before your application, and no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.

What are the exceptions?

If there are exceptional circumstances, some leeway can be granted in terms of excessive time spent outside the UK and immigration violations. If you do not meet these residency requirements and believe you have special circumstances, you must disclose them when applying.

However, unlike the applications for indefinite leave to remain, no special exception regarding the Covid-19 pandemic is recognised for the citizenship application, nor is it included in current Home Office guidance.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any additional information.


Penriths Ltd