What is the Continuous Period of Stay in the UK?

The continuous period of stay in the UK is the time spent in the UK without travelling abroad within a year, calculated from the date you’ve arrived in the UK, or the day you’ve been granted a visa. This is known as the qualifying period and it’s counted to measure your eligibility to obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. There is an allowable period of absence from the UK during a qualifying period, which is commonly 180 days in a year.

In exceptional cases, you may settle in the UK regardless of the number of continuous years spent in the UK before that.

How Long Is the Continuous Period?

Depending on the visa category and personal circumstances, different requirements on the length of qualifying period for obtaining a UK Indefinite Leave to Remain will apply. However, commonly, you’ll be required to possess a 5-year continuous residence, but, at times this can be 2, 3, 4, 6 up to 20 years in the UK.

During the qualifying period, you’re expected to not have violated your visa conditions, the period of such visa, nor having committed crimes or used the UK public funds (unless you’ve been in a vulnerable UK visa category).

What Are the Tolerable of Absences from the UK During a Qualifying Period?

To be able settling in the UK, you must not have moved abroad the UK throughout the counted period to settlement permit. The rule, however, is not inclusive as it will be explained.

You may travel abroad for a visit of up to 180 days within a year without having to provide any reason for your absence in the UK if you hold any of the following visas:

  • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, Entrepreneur, Investor.
  • UK Ancestry Visa.
  • Retired person of independent means.
  • Highly skilled migrant (under the HSMP Forum judicial review).
  • PBS Dependent Visas.

You may also travel abroad for a stay of the total 180 days within a year for as long as you present evidences that such absences are for a compelling or serious reason, or for a reason related to that for which you’ve obtained the respective following UK visa:

  • Work permit.
  • Representative of an overseas business.
  • Employee of overseas governments (except those exempt from control) or the United Nations (UN) or other international organisation of which the UK is a member.
  • Airport-based operational staff of overseas-owned airlines
  • Domestic workers in private households.
  • Tier 2 General, Intra-Company Transfer, Minister of Religion, Sportsperson.
  • Tier 5 International Agreement (domestic worker in diplomatic household – with a visa obtained before April 6, 2012).

What Is Counted as a Compelling or Serious Reason of Absence During the Qualifying Period?

There’s not a sharp line between what’s and what’s not considered a compelling or serious reason of absence from the UK, of a visa holder applying for settlement permit.

The commonly recognized cases of such reasons are:

  • Serious illness (including of a close family member).
  • Birth/death of a close relative.
  • Conflict.
  • Natural disaster.

Documents to prove this:

  • Medical certificates.
  • Birth/death certificate.
  • Proof of postponement of travel ticket arrangements due to natural disaster.

Am I Allowed to Work Abroad During the Qualifying Period to Settle in the UK?

No, absences for the purpose of working outside the UK are not tolerated.

When Are the Absences from the UK Disregarded Towards Counting the Qualifying Period?

If you’ve been participating in any national/international economic/humanitarian assistance program, I.e. To support Ebola crisis and similar, ever since January 11, 2018 they’ll be counted as period of residence in the UK instead as of absence. This is relevant if you’ve a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa.

To prove that, you must provide a letter and supporting evidence from the sponsor/organisation on behalf of which you’ve assisted in such a program.

What are the Documents to Confirm Your Absence From the UK?

When applying to settle in the UK, you must present documents to confirm the reason for which you’ve been away from the UK during the qualifying period, as follows:

  • An Official Letter from the Employer (If you’re a worker in the UK). It must explain 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 you’re a self-employed person in the UK). Explaining the reason for their absence, only if such absence was related to their job.
  • A Personal Letter (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. 

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