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UK Returning Resident Visa: Eligibility, Cost, Steps to Apply

Sometimes business or leisure can take you away from the country for a while, and you may end up staying longer than you had expected. Not to worry, the UK Returning Resident Visa has you covered.

The UK Returning Resident visa is for those who want to return to reside in the UK after previously being established (having been granted ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and who have either misplaced their paperwork or have been gone for more than two years.

You can seek a new visa if you’ve been absent for less than two years but have misplaced your papers. If you’ve been asked to confirm your ability to come to the UK, such as by the airline you’re flying with, you may still need to apply for a visa.

In essence, all we are trying to say is that if a person is out of the nation for longer than two years, their ILR status is immediately lost. As a result, they will need to apply for entry permission to re-enter the UK, which is normally done under the resident’s return visa category.

In this article, you will be learning everything you need to know about the UK Returning Resident Visa, including the Eligibility Criteria, Cost, and Steps to Apply.

About the UK Returning Resident Visa

If you have previously had UK ILR but have been out of the country for more than two years and wish to return to stay in the UK, you will need to apply for a Returning Resident visa.

You can re-enter the UK as a returning resident to live, work, and study permanently. Before traveling to the UK, you must have obtained a Returning Resident visa.

If you have ILR and have been out of the UK for less than two years, you have preserved your settled status and are not required to obtain a visa to re-enter the UK.

If you have kept your ILR status, you will need a new Biometric Residence Permit rather than a Returning Resident visa if your ILR documentation is lost or stolen.

You will not be allowed to apply under this category if you have been deported from the UK because of your criminal convictions. To apply under this category, you must show that you have links to the United Kingdom, which might be social, employment, proprietary, familial, or other.

Exceptional circumstances are taken into account, such as the fact that you were gone owing to illness or any other cause that prohibited you from returning to the UK.

The following are exempted from the two-year rule:

  •  A citizen of the British Dependent Territories (BDTC)
  •  (BN(0)) a British National (Overseas)
  •  A British citizen living abroad (BOC)
  •  A British Protected Person (BPP) under section 30(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981; a British Subject (BS) by section 30(b) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (who, immediately before 1 January 1983 would have been a British Subject not possessing citizenship of the UK and Colonies or the citizenship of any other Commonwealth country or territory)

The following are what will be considered when you submit your application:

  • The length of your initial stay in the United Kingdom
  • The applicant’s time spent outside the United Kingdom
  • Was the delay more than two years due to your own choice or through no fault of your own?
  • Could you have been anticipated to return in less than two years?
  • How close is he to his family in the UK, and how well has he kept in touch with them throughout his absence?
  • Whether you have a residence in the United Kingdom and would return there if admitted;
  • Whether you have a business or a job in the United Kingdom;
  • If you have any additional links to the United Kingdom

Documents Required for the UK Returning Resident Visa

To qualify for the UK Returning Resident Visa, you must provide the following documents;

  • A current passport or any valid travel identification.
  • Previously used passports.
  • A passport-sized color photo.
  • Documents to prove you have ties to the UK, for example, to prove if you’ve earned income or rented or owned property, in the UK.

Depending on your situation, you may be required to produce extra documentation.

Eligibility Criteria for the UK Returning Resident Visa

To qualify for the UK Returning Resident Visa, you must do the following:

  • Intend to return to the United Kingdom and not have been awarded public subsidies to assist you to leave the UK because you were permanently settled in the UK before you last departed.
  • While the UK stays in the EU, the rights and status of EU nationals residing in the UK, as well as UK nationals living in the EU, will remain unchanged.

If you’ve been gone for more than two years, you’ll need to establish:

  • Your close links to the United Kingdom
  • Your present situation and why you’ve resided outside the United Kingdom

If your spouse or partner is a member of the UK military services and you’ve joined them on an overseas deployment, you won’t lose your indefinite permission to remain after two years outside the UK.

You won’t lose it if your spouse or partner is a British citizen or has a permanent residence in the UK and meets one of the following criteria:

  • a member of the Diplomatic Service permanently
  • a British Council employee resident in the UK who works abroad
  • a Department for International Development (DFID) employee
  • a Home Office employee

How to Apply for the UK Returning Resident Visa

Returning Resident visa applications are submitted to UKVI online. Some local embassies provide fast-track services for a fee. You’ll need to double-check availability at the embassy where you’ll be submitting your application.

Documentary documentation will be requested as part of your application to back up the information you’ve supplied.

This includes the following:

  • previous passports
  • a current passport or an equivalent kind of acceptable travel identification
  • a color picture the size of a passport

You should expect to be asked to show that you have kept strong links to the UK by submitting documentation such as:

  • A marriage certificate or other proof of your marital status is required.
  • Information about family relatives who live in the United Kingdom.
  • Evidence of property ownership in the United Kingdom.
  • Letters indicating enrolment or attendance at a school or university.
  • Letters of employment that specify your income and position at your employer.
  • Evidence of your commercial interests.
  • Utility bills or statements from the local government.
  • If your absence was due to medical reasons, a documented declaration from a medical practitioner is required.

Because this list isn’t complete, you can submit a variety of papers to increase your chances of receiving your Return Visa. The Home Office may call you for an interview if the proof of your willingness to settle in the UK is insufficient.

If you have any questions concerning your supporting documents, one of our immigration lawyers would gladly assist you.

You must also pay the appropriate application cost and visit a visa application center to present your biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photograph.

If your dependents (spouse and children under the age of 18) are qualified, they will have to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

How long is the Resident Return Visa processing time?

The amount of time it takes to complete your Returning Resident Visa will vary depending on where you apply, the complexity of your case, and the quality of your application.

Check while you’re submitting your application for a more accurate estimate. Before you go, you must have obtained a Returning Resident Visa.

What is the cost of a Returning Resident visa?

When you submit your application, you must pay the Returning Resident Visa cost. The charge is subject to change, so make sure to double-check when you apply.

Is it possible to lose your indefinite stay in the UK?

Yes, if you leave the UK and are gone for more than two years, your ILR may be lost. You’ll need to apply for a resident return visa for entry clearance to regain your ILR status.

Are there alternatives to residents’ return visas?

If you do not fit the returning resident requirements, you may be able to make a long residency application if you can prove you spent more than 10 years in the UK before.


There may be other alternatives to explore if you do not fulfill the conditions to re-enter the UK based on a Returning Resident visa.

For example, if you have lived in the UK for at least 10 years before leaving, you may be entitled to come using a different immigration route and then apply for Long Residence once you are in the nation. We can provide you with advice based on your specific situation.

We hope you’ve now been informed about the eligibility criteria and the steps including every other thing you need to know about the UK Returning Resident Visa.

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