Can you lose your permanent status in the United Kingdom? The short answer is YES. Everyone, who has been absent from the UK for more than 2 consecutive years, will automatically lose their indefinite leave as a matter of law.

A person who has been absent for more than 2 years must apply for entry clearance as a returning resident and will be assessed by Entry Clearance Officers.

There are some exceptions which prevent a person’s leave from lapsing. Any period spent outside the UK will not count towards the calculation of the 2 year period for the following people:

• partner or child accompanying a member of HM Forces overseas;

• partner or child accompanying a permanent member of the British Council, Department for International Development, Home Office, or Foreign and Commonwealth Office overseas.

The person will be readmitted for settlement provided that they:

• had indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK when they last left;

• has not been away from the United Kingdom for more than 2 years;

• did not receive assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving the UK;

• now seeks admission for the purpose of settlement.

To prove one’s settled status in the UK it is required to provide the following:

• indefinite leave to enter (ILE) endorsement or BRP;

• indefinite leave to remain (ILR) endorsement or BRP;

• no time limit endorsement or BRP;

• returning resident visas;

• open date stamps in passport after ILE/ILR has been granted.

If such evidence cannot be provided, a person’s settled status may still be confirmed through:

  • records on databases, such as central reference system (CRS) or case information database (CID), or paper files that show indefinite leave has been granted;
  • other proof the applicant was settled in the UK on or before 1 January 1973 and this status has not been lost or revoked.


A person who has been absent from the UK for less than 2 continuous years will retain their indefinite leave. It is usually possible to check absences from the UK through entry and (old) embarkation stamps (endorsed by Immigration Officers).


A person must show that they are seeking entry for the purposes of settlement. Whilst in most cases a person would be returning to settle at the point of entry, there may be other circumstances where a person is in work or study for long periods overseas, but still intends to ultimately settle in the UK on completion of the employment/study. This will not disqualify a person from admission as a returning resident, provided:

• they are normally resident in the UK (for example, a person has property or family or other interests in the UK which are being closely maintained through regular contact);

• at the time of their entry, they consider the UK to be their permanent home;

• they have not been away from the UK for more than 2 years and intend to return to the UK for settlement in the future.


Where a person is absent from the UK for more than 2 years, their indefinite leave will automatically lapse. A person may nevertheless be admitted as a returning resident if they can demonstrate strong ties to the UK. Any applications for readmission following a 2-year absence, must be made at a UK visa application centre.


• their strength of ties to the UK including:

– the nature of those ties (family, property, business);

– the extent to which those ties have been maintained during the applicant’s absence;

• the length of their original residence in the UK;

• the length of time the applicant has been outside the UK;

• the circumstances in which they left the UK and their reasons for remaining absent;

• their reasons for now wishing to return;

• whether, if they were to be readmitted, they would continue to live in the UK;

• any other compelling or compassionate factors.

How can we help?

At Master Legal Services, an expert advisor will assess your specific circumstances and assist you with the correct application, a list of the sufficient documents for a successful application.

You can trust that as a tailored immigration firm, we will always prioritise your needs and provide the best advice for your particular circumstances.

Contact our office to speak to an expert today:

T: 020 8935 5205

M: +44 7710987064

E: a.s@master-legal-services.com

Our Fees

Our consultation fee is currently between 65 – 125 GBP. However, if you subsequently proceed with your immigration matter, we deduct the consultation fee from our total costs.

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