Dear Mr Bassie,
I have normally been resident in the United Kingdom (UK), but I have lived outside of the UK for a few years. I am now being advised that I may need to apply for a Returning Resident visa.
If this is so, then any advice would be appreciated.
A person will need to apply for a Returning Resident visa to go back to live in the United Kingdom if he/she was previously settled, that is given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’ and has been away for more than two years.
If persons have been away for less than two years but have lost their documentation, they can get a replacement Biometric Resident Permit visa. However, they may still need to apply for a visa if they have been asked to confirm if they can travel to the UK, for example, by the airline that they are travelling with.
With respect to eligibility, persons must plan to return to live in the UK permanently and have been settled over there before they last left. Those persons ought not to have been given public funds to help them leave the UK.
For completeness, it should be noted that there will be no change to the rights and status of European Union (EU) citizens currently living in the UK until June 30, 2021, or December 31, 2020 if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a deal. Those persons and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the United Kingdom.
Persons who have been away for more than two years must provide enough evidence: to show their strong ties to the United Kingdom;their current circumstances; and why they have lived outside the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that persons will not lose their indefinite leave to remain after two years outside the UK if their spouses or partners are members of the UK armed forces and they have joined them on an overseas posting.
A person also will not lose indefinite leave to remain after two years outside the UK if their spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and is one of the following:
• a permanent member of the diplomatic service
• a UK-based British Council employee who works outside the UK
• a Department for International Development employee
• a Home Office employee
Persons’ dependents, partners and children under 18 years old, need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa if they are eligible.
Persons will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification, previous passports and a passport-sized colour photograph.
Those persons will also need to provide documents that prove that they have ties to the UK, for example, proof that they have earned income, or rented or owned property, in the United Kingdom. They may also need to provide additional documents depending on their circumstances. There is a guide online that gives a full list of documents that needs to be provided.
Persons must apply online for a Returning Resident visa and they will need to have their fingerprints and photograph, known as ‘biometric information’, taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.
It costs £516 to apply and the processing time will vary. Persons are advised to check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in their country. Persons should be aware that they may be able to get the visa faster or other services depending on what country the application is made from and they should check with the visa application centre.
If the applicant is successful, then he/she can return to live permanently in the United Kingdom.
All the best.
John S. Bassie
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org