We have several clients who are currently very concerned about their absence from the UK, and how this will impact on their future Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.
The UK visa rules state that to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain you cannot spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period. The Home Office is stringent in enforcing this 180-day absence rule.
However, they are lenient in their consideration if the applicant can provide evidence of serious or compelling reasons. The Home Office guidance states that “serious or compelling reasons” will vary but can include: serious illness of the applicant or a close relative, a conflict or a natural disaster, for example, volcanic eruption or tsunami.
While this doesn’t include the specific example of a global pandemic, we believe that the current situation will be treated as “serious or compelling reasons”, and that settlement applicants will not be penalised for absences over 180 days. We believe that they will eventually specifically include this in their guidance.
We do recommend that our clients keep evidence of their inability to fly to the UK. This evidence can, for example, be in the form of communication from their employer, agreeing that they work remotely till the travel restrictions are lifted, etc.
Please contact us if you have any questions relating to Covid-19 and your UK immigration status. We will be happy to assist.