Continuous Period of Stay in the UK
“A continuous period of time lawfully in the UK”, is the term used for the specific nonstop period of living (staying) in the UK with a valid visa, without exiting borders of the country, and in other cases exiting with the needed authorization.
Generally, foreign persons who have a continuous period of lawfully in the UK are eligible to apply for an indefinite leave to remain (settlement permission), but they must also meet the additional criteria.
How long is the Continuous Period?
Years of stay to be counted as a continuous period are:
- Five years – generally;
- Four years – for candidates who applied for a Highly Skilled Programme (HSP) before 3 April 2006 and received the approval letter for that later, and they received after an EC or LR based on that letter;
- Up to five years
- Three to five years – for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) candidates based on the level of business activity;
- Two to five years – for Tier 1 (Investor) candidates based on the level on investment;
- Four years – for Highly Skilled Migrants under the HSMP forum judgment who applied for the visa before 3 April 2006 and five years those who applied to such forum within 3 April – 7 November 2006
The continuous period is counted only if the candidate fulfills the following conditions:
- Has not left the UK for more than 180 days within any 12 months of five – two calendar years;
- Has a valid temporary visa when exiting or returning to the UK
Absences that are Tolerated Within the Continuous Period
Any period out of the UK, pending candidate’s return to the UK is tolerated for the following cases:
- If their existing visa expired not more than 28 days before the application for an EC, if that application was made before 24 November 2016 and only if the candidate received such EC as a result of the application;
- If they had applied for another EC on or after 24 November 2016 before the existing temporary visa expires and only if the candidate received such EC as a result of the application
- Has made tolerable overstays in the UK beyond the visa validity
The period of five or four years of nonstop stay in the bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey or the Isle of Man with a valid visa are also counted as continuous period of five or four years of legal stay in the UK, if the candidate:
- Stayed the most latest time with a Tier 1 General visa;
- Stayed with a work permit or a Tier 2 visa in a job in the following circumstances:
- In a job listed in the level 3 or higher on the occupation list of the national qualification framework (level 4 from 6 April 2011, or level 6 and higher from 14 June 2012);
- In a job listed in the creative sector codes of practice;
- In a job as a professional sportsperson
- Received their visa before 6 April 2012 in the bailiwick of Guernsey, Bailiwick of Jersey and the isle of man as an overseas domestic worker in a private household
- Has not stopped working in the aforementioned job in UK within such five or four years – Except for the case when the candidate stopped working for a period of two months the most, if the reason for such break is that they applied to switch to work permit or for a new company;
- Has not left the UK more than 180 days within any 12 months of four or five years – Except for the case when the absence from the UK is related to the job aforementioned (i.e. Annual leave or other authorized job leaves)
Documents to confirm any non-presence of the visa holder in the UK within a continuous period are NOT required for candidates who are applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain with the following visas:
- Tier 1 (Investor);
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur);
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent);
- Highly Skilled Migrant under the HSMP Forum judgment
Tolerable Cases of Staying Out of the UK
Any period out of the UK for more than 180 days within any 12 months of a complete continuous period, in a wait for the candidate’s return to the UK, is tolerated for the following cases:
- If the candidate was out of the UK waiting for the decision on an entry visa application made not more than 28 days after the ending of the previous temporary visa (application must be made before 24 November 2016 and the candidate must have received EC later);
- If the candidate was out of the UK waiting for the decision on an entry visa decision application for another EC while the existing temporary visa was still valid (application must be made on or after 24 November 2016 and the candidate must have received an EC as a result of the application)
Tolerable Cases of Staying In the UK Without a Valid Visa
Tolerable are the following cases of overstays:
- If the candidate was left in the UK waiting for the decision on the visa application made within two days from the end of the existing visa (only if the secretary of state believes that this was done because it was not in control of the candidate);
- If the candidate was left in the UK waiting for the decision on visa application made right after another unsuccessful on-time visa application
This applies only to an application made within two weeks of:
- Rejection of the previous visa application;
- The end of any visa as described in the “continuation of leave pending variation decision”;
- Deadline to apply for administrative review of the application;
- Any decision, removal, or expiration of the administrative review request
Documents to Confirm an Absence From the UK
These are documents that have to be submitted when the candidate applying for an indefinite leave has to confirm that an absence (if any) in the UK was made with an authorization either from the UK employer, or, because of another convincing reason:
- An official letter from the employer – if the candidate was an employee in the UK.
Explaining the reason for candidate’s absence in the workplace, i.e. Annual leave or other accepted leave taken by the candidate, with all the details about the candidate, company, dates of leave and so on.
- A personal letter from the candidate – if they were self-employed in the UK.
Explaining the reason for their absence, only if such absence was related to their job.
- A personal letter from the candidate – in other cases
Explaining the reason for absence from the UK for other reasons not related to the work. Depending on the reason of absence, relating documents should be submitted, i.e. medical certificate, birth/death certificate or other.