Returning Resident Visa

  • Home
  • Returning Resident Visa

Returning Resident visa

You lose your indefinite leave to remain if you’ve been outside the UK for 2 or more continuous years. You may be able to re-enter the UK and get indefinite leave to remain by applying for a Returning Resident visa.

If you are away from the UK for more than 2 years and  attempt to enter the UK without entry clearance ( without ILR as it has expired after 2 years’ absence or without a valid residents return visa or a valid document that does not restrict your entry into the UK) – you will be refused entry at the border.

Where to apply for Returning Resident Visa?

Recent change in the rules (from April 2023) mean that those with lapsed ILR who have returned to the UK as a visitor can still apply to resume their settled status as a returning resident, although they must make the application from outside the UK.

When is it exempt? 

You may not need to apply if you or your partner are in the British armed forces, or works for certain UK government departments or the British Council.

what are Visa requirements?

You can apply for a returning resident visa if you have been away from the UK for more than 2 years and you:

If you are applying from North Korea, you must apply by using the ‘VAF2 Form.’

To apply for a visa, you need to:

You must provide enough evidence to show:

Examples of documentation to support the application:

The above list is not exhaustive, you can submit various documents to maximise chances to get your Visa.

What happens after submitting application?

UKVI may summon you for an interview. The interviewer may also ask questions about your past, present and future plans in the UK. Once your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation letter with your visa number and start date.

Family members (‘dependants’)

Your dependants (partner and children) need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa if they’re eligible.


It costs £531 to apply. Please note the fee keeps on changing. Hence you must always check the UK Government website before submitting your application. A biometrics fee is also required for applicants aged 16 or over.

How long it takes

Check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in your country.

Documents you’ll need

You’ll need to provide:

Providing satisfactory documentation to home office can be very difficult at times. You may need to submit additional documents depending on your circumstances.

What if you do not qualify for Returning Resident Visa?

If you do not meet the requirements to re-enter the UK on the basis of a Returning Resident visa, there are alternative options to consider. For example, if you had lived in the UK for a period of at least 10 continuous years prior to leaving the country, you may be eligible to enter under another immigration route and once in the country, make a Long Residence application.

What if visa is refused?

Entry to the UK may be refused if the Immigration Rules are not satisfied. If your application is refused, you have a right of appeal against the decision, if you have raised a human rights claim as part of your application.

We are happy to support throughout this process and represent you. Please contact us.