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Returning Resident Visas: What are They and Who is Eligible?

If you were previously settled in the UK, you may be able to return and live here permanently on a Returning Resident Visa under Immigration Rules Appendix Returning Resident.What is important is how long you have been away from the UK.

Away for Less than Two Years?

You will still have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you have been away for under twenty-four months. You can come back to the UK as long as you had ILR when you left and were not receiving any financial support from the Home Office in order to leave the UK.

Away for More than Two Years?

If you’ve been outside the UK for more than two years on a continuous basis, you lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain. You may be able to come back to the UK and reinstate this by applying for a Returning Resident Visa.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for a Returning Resident Visa?

You must provide enough evidence to demonstrate strong ties to the UK. An example of this is living here most of your life or your family has been here most of your life.

You will need to explain your current circumstances and why you have been living outside the UK.

Documents You Will Need to Apply for a Returning Resident Visa

To apply for a Returning Resident Visa, you will need to provide the following documents: –

  • A current passport or other valid identification document
  • Previous expired passports
  • A passport-sized colour photo
  • Documentation that proves you have ties to the UK, this might be evidence that you have previously owned or rented property in the UK or worked here

Depending on your specific circumstances, there may be a further requirement for additional documents.

Applications are made online, and you will need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a Visa Application Centre; this is called biometric information.

Do you Need a Returning Resident Visa to Come Back to the UK?

The UK has a complex immigration system, and it may not be easy to determine whether you can come back to the UK and if a Returning Resident Visa is appropriate for your circumstances.

An immigration adviser can help you with the process, including ascertaining which documents you will need to apply and whether anything additional is required for your circumstances.  

WH Solicitors, Immigration Professionals You Can Trust

WH Solicitors are experienced immigration experts with many years of helping different people come to the UK. Our friendly team makes the whole process seem less daunting and can help you with all aspects of your Returning Resident Visa application.

Why Use WH Solicitors?

With a hard-won and long-standing reputation for expert and professional advice, WH Solicitors offers a specialist immigration service that includes visa applications plus general support for people wanting to return to the UK from overseas. Our fees are reasonable and clearly explained at the beginning of the process, and there are no hidden charges.

Here’s how we can help.

  • Review your situation and eligibility for a Returning Resident Visa, including the circumstances that connect you with the UK
  • Identify and verify the documents required for your application, including any additional documentation based on your unique circumstances necessary to evidence your links with the UK
  • Arrange for legalised translations of documents that are not in English or Welsh
  • Submit an online application on your behalf
  • Represent you throughout the application process, including dealing with any queries from the Home Office or requests for more information
  • Handle Returning Resident Visa or other visa applications on behalf of your partner and children

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prove my original status at Border Control to re-enter the UK?

You’ll need to show the stamp or vignette in your passport or the biometric residence permit that initially permitted you to settle in the UK. If the stamp or vignette is in a passport that has since expired, carry both your old and new passports when you travel. You may be refused entry if you cannot show the original vignette, stamp, or BRP. If you no longer have these documents, you’ll need a replacement BRP.

How much does it cost to apply for a Returning Resident Visa?

The current cost is £637.

If I am coming back to the UK on a Returning Resident Visa, can I bring family members with me?

If you want to bring family members, also called dependents, with you to the UK, then you will need to apply separately for a Returning Resident Visa for a partner and any children. They will need to satisfy the eligibility criteria in order to be granted entry.

Do I need a Returning Resident Visa if I am in the British Armed Forces?

If you’re a member of the British Armed Forces and have been posted overseas, or your partner is a member of the Armed Forces, and you’ve joined them on an overseas posting, then you still have Indefinite Leave to remain even if you’ve been outside the UK for over two years. This means you don’t need a Returning Resident Visa. British Council and UK Government employees may also be exempt from a requirement for a Returning Resident Visa.

How long does it take to get a Returning Resident Visa?

It usually takes a few weeks. Because every case is unique, it can be hard to give an average timeframe. If your application is complex, it could take months rather than weeks to process, and this is where an immigration expert can prove invaluable as they can liaise with the Home Office on your behalf, potentially saving time.

Get in Touch

Contact WH Solicitors for advice on applying for a Returning Resident Visa. Our friendly team of experts will coordinate all the documentation required for your application and handle the process from start to completion, including any queries or requests for more information from the Home Office. Take the easy and stress-free route to your visa application with reasonable fees and the peace of mind that your application is correct and properly presented.

The contents of this webpage are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice. All information is correct as of the date of publication, and any individual or organisation should be careful to seek qualified advice from a specialist immigration lawyer before acting on any of the topics referenced by this content.