Skip links

Private Life

Private Life

If you have been in the UK for 20 continuous years then you can apply for settlement visa (known as ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain) under 20 years Private Life and Long Residence route. Contact expert UK immigration lawyers at Blackstone Law Associates for case assessment, eligibility requirements and supporting documents.

The 20-year rule on long residence is contained at paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules. Under the 20-year rule, a person does not have to have lived in the UK lawfully, but simply “continuously”.

As a result of the changes in the Immigration Rules effected from 9 July 2012. The requirements to qualify for further leave have been extended from 14 years to 20 years. But what you may not be familiar with is the other changes, affecting qualifying for settlement. The new changes mean that applicants will have to wait a very long time after the 20 years to be able to achieve settled status.

A person who has lived 20 years continuously in the UK can apply for limited leave to remain under paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules.

Continuous residence is defined in paragraph 276A of the Immigration Rules. Continuous residence means residence in the UK without any gap in the VISA.

What prevents a person from qualifying for the 20-year rule?

The only requirements to meet under the 20 years rule are:

  • not falling for refusal under Section S-LTR.1.2-2.3 and S-LTR.3.1 of Appendix FM, known as “the suitability grounds”;
  • making a valid application for leave; and
  • having lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years

Therefore, where an applicant has had 20 years continuous residence in the UK, their application may only be refused on suitability grounds (generally on grounds of public good) or if their application is not valid (for example, they did not pay the correct fee).

Status under 20 years rule

Unlike under the 10-year rule of lawful residence, applicants under the 20-year rule do not obtain indefinite leave to remain immediately. Under the relevant immigration rule, successful applicants receive discretionary leave for 10 years.

If the application is successful, an individual will be granted limited leave to remain for a period of 30 months. It will usually have a condition of “No Recourse to Public Funds” attached to it.

A person will then be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain once they have accumulated a period of 120 months (i.e. 10 years) lawful residence. So, under the 20-year rule, it will be 30 years from entry to the UK before the person is eligible to apply for settlement.

Initial Application

A person who has lived in the UK continuously for 20 years in the UK whether lawfully or unlawfully can apply for permission to stay in the UK for 30 months under paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules.

Paragraph 276ADE of the Rules indicates that leave to remain may be granted to a long residence applicant if he or she has lived continuously in the UK:

  • for at least 20 years; or
  • for at least 7 years (and the applicant is under 18 years of age); or
  • for at least half of his life (and the applicant is aged between 18 and 25 years); or
  • for less than 20 years (and the applicant has no ties to the country to which he or she would have to go if required to leave the UK).

In calculating the period of continuous residence, any period in prison is to be discounted. A successful application under paragraph 276ADE will lead to a grant of leave to remain for no more than 30 months.

A person granted leave to remain under this paragraph may apply for further leave if he or she continues to meet the requirements of this paragraph. Such a person may apply for indefinite leave to remain after 10 years.


A person who has is already in the UK on leave to remain which was previously granted for 30 months on the basis of 20 years long residence can apply for renewal of his leave to remain 28 days prior to the expiry of his leave to remain. An application for renewal of such leave to remain is made using application form FLR (FP).

Indefinite Leave to remain

A person who has spent 10 years in the UK continuously with leave to remain under 20 years long residence application can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK on such basis. The 20 years long residence category is 10 years route to settlement and therefore an application for ILR can only be made once a person has spent 10 years in the UK continuously with leave to remain on the basis of 20 years long residence.

Continuous Residence

The Definition of “continuous residence” is almost the same as for the 10-year lawful residence route. However, time spent in prison will not break continuous residence. Instead time in prison will simply not be counted towards the period of residence. Time before and after imprisonment can be aggregated to make up the full amount of time.

Events that break continuous residence

Continuous residence is considered to be broken if the applicant has:

  • been absent from the UK for a period of more than six months at any one time, or is absent from the UK for a shorter period but does not have valid leave to enter the UK on their return, or valid leave to remain on their departure from the UK
  • been removed or deported from the UK, or has left the UK following refusal of leave to enter or remain
  • left the UK and by doing so, showed a clear intention not to return
  • left the UK under circumstances in which they could have no real chance of returning to the UK lawfully
  • been convicted of an offence and been given a custodial sentence, or ordered to be detained in an institution other than a prison, such as a hospital or young offenders institute, not including suspended sentences
  • spent a total of 18 months outside the UK throughout the whole 20-year period

Schedule a consultation

Welcome to Meliora Legal, where we believe in making legal services accessible and hassle-free for our clients. Our team of experienced attorneys is committed to providing you with the highest level of personalized service and representation.

If you’re in need of legal assistance, we encourage you to book a call with us today. Our booking process is quick and easy, and you can rest assured that your consultation is guaranteed. We’ll take the time to understand your unique situation and provide you with clear, actionable advice on how to move forward.

Whether you’re facing a complex legal issue or simply need guidance on a legal matter, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate – book your call with Meliora Legal now and take the first step towards achieving your legal goals.