New rules revealed
for 'returning residents'

The Home Office has clarified its immigration rules for those who have been granted indefinite leave to remain, then left the country, and who now plan to come back to live in Britain. These amendments are part of the statement of changes that came into effect on Friday 6 July.

Returning residents

In order to satisfy an immigration officer, you must

  • Have had indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK when you last left
  • Have not been absent from the UK for more than two years
  • Not have received assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving
  • Be seeking admission because you want to settle.

If you meet these requirements, you do not need a visa to enter the UK.

More than two years’ absence

A person who has been absent from the UK for more than two consecutive years, will automatically lose their indefinite leave.

In this case, evidence to support your application may include:

  • Evidence of settled status. For those who were settled before 1 January 1973 when the Immigration Act 1971 came into force, this may not be through a vignette, BRP or passport. Other evidence, such as GP records, or school letters may be taken into account instead
  • Details of any family in the UK and correspondence with them (to establish strong ties to the UK)
  • Evidence of property in the UK and/or any business interests (to establish strong ties to the UK)
  • Letters of enrolment/attendance at an education establishment if they have been studying outside the UK for long periods
  • Letter of employment where this has been reason for their absence from the UK
  • A letter from a medical professional if their reason for their absence relates to caring for another

Windrush scheme

Any person who meets this criteria and who lost indefinite leave due to an absence from the UK of more than two years, can apply to return to the UK permanently as a returning resident free of charge. Applicants who wish to be considered under the Windrush Scheme can find out more on

At Smith Stone Walters,  moving people is what we do. If you would like support with any aspect of immigration law, then please contact us here.

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