Lapsing Leave and Returning Residents

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Navigating the intricacies of immigration law is essential for individuals seeking to establish or maintain their residence in the United Kingdom. One such consideration is the concept of lapsing leave and the process for returning residents. Understanding when residence is lost, and the steps required for re-entry is crucial to avoid legal complications.

In this article, we delve into the nuances of lapsing leave and returning residents, outlining the conditions under which temporary leave and settlement can lapse, and the procedures for re-establishing residency in the UK.

When is residence lost?

There are two main categories of residence – temporary leave and settlement. Both can lapse if individuals do not adhere to the rules.

Temporary Leave

If your leave is subject to a time limit, this period will lapse if you:

  1. Travel to a country/territory outside the common travel area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) if your leave was granted for 6 months or less or you were granted a short-term visit visa,
  2. Remain outside of the UK for a continuous period of more than 2 years if your grant of leave has not expired.


If a person’s leave lapses while they are abroad, that person must apply for a new application for entry clearance to the UK, such as a visit visa or spouse visa. They will need to meet the relevant immigration rules.


If you are settled, your residence lapses when you stay outside of the UK for a particular period of time, these are:

  • EUSS settlement: more than 5 years
  • EUSS settlement as a Swiss national or a family member of a Swiss national: more than 4 years
  • In all other cases: more than 2 years


If your settlement lapses and you are abroad and wish to return and settle in the UK, you must apply for entry clearance to the UK. The application will be assessed under Appendix Returning Resident.

There are several requirements for a returning resident application:

  1. Must make a valid application:
  • apply on the correct form
  • be outside the UK
  • pay any required fee (no fee is required for the Windrush Scheme)
  • provide any required biometrics
  • establish identity and nationality by providing a passport or other document
  1. Meet the Eligibility Requirements:
  • The applicant must have previously been granted settlement status in the UK which has lapsed by operation of law due to their absence from the UK.
  • TB vaccine certificates if returning from certain countries.
  1. There must be an intention to settle in the UK shown through ties to the UK such as family, business, property or the length of the original residence.


If the applicant is under 18 on the date of the application, they must have written consent from both or one parent or legal guardian.

If your temporary leave has lapsed and you require assistance applying for entry clearance, or if your settlement has lapsed and you seek support as a returning resident, contact IHRC Legal for expert guidance and assistance. We strive to simplify the process, ensure clarity, and deliver the solutions you need to resolve your immigration concerns.


This information was correct at the date of publishing.


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