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Until December 2012, those applying for Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) on account of 5 years residence in the UK as a work permit holder, Tier 1 or Tier 2 General holder would have to show that they had had less than 6 months absences from the UK during their 5 years residence unless there were compelling circumstances.
This rule led to a lot of uncertainty for applicants and seemed also to lead to inconsistent decision-making (see my article below). Fortunately, some degree of sense has been brought to this part of the Rules. From 13 December 2012, the UKBA relaxed the absence requirements for these categories among others, allowing for up to 6 months absences per year (each year will be counted back as a period of 12 months prior to the date of application).
This change is likely to come as a relief to many people to whom regularly leaving the UK on business trips is essential for their work. The change may also allow some people who were previously refused to re-apply under the new rules. It is worth noting that some categories such as Tier 2 require specified evidence that absences are work-related and/or in accordance with an applicant’s annual leave. It also remains to be seen how strict the UKBA will be in relation to absences from the UK of over 6 months.
The absence rules relating to long-residence applications (10 years of continuous legal residence) have not changed. Those applying under this rule must show that they have not been out of the UK for more than 18 months in total or 6 months continuously during the 10-year period.
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