It is generally known that indefinite leave to remain automatically lapses after two years’ absence from the UK and a Return Resident visa is suitable for whoever needs to come back to live in the UK, provided that he was previously settled and he has either:
- lost his documentation
- been away for more than 2 years
According to the Immigration Rules, it is thus possible to have indefinite leave restored whether the applicant is able to prove strong ties in the UK.
A recent statement of changes was published on 15th June 2018 and it will come into force on 6 July 2018, although some only apply to applications made after that date.
What is new, is the distinction between applicants who have been away from the UK for less than 24 months and those who have been absent for more than 2 years.
In the first case the applicant would no longer considered "returning resident" but, instead, could freely come back without a visa.
Those belonging to the second category must apply for leave to enter and must show that they have strong ties to the UK and intend to make the UK their permanent home. The previous rules merely requested the returning residents to demonstrate “for example, that they had lived here most of their life”.
To put it shortly, if the Applicant has been away for more than 2 years, he must provide enough evidence to show:
- his strong family ties to the UK
- he lived in the UK most of his life
- his current circumstances and why he has lived outside the UK
The Returning Resident won’t lose his settlement status after 2 years outside the UK if his spouse or partner is a member of the UK armed forces and he has joined them on an overseas posting.
Another exception applies if the Applicant's spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and 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 (DFID) employee
- a Home Office employee
Ultimately, in the light of the recent events, the changes referring to the returning Residents explicitly includes those Migrants affected by Windrush policy.