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Can I Apply for UK Residence?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 7 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Uk Residence Work Permit Worker Visa


I have been on a work permit since July 2002 but spent one year and four months (from December 2003 to May 2005) on a spouse visa. I have been working full time with the company I got the work permit with and there is no gap in my work permit. After taking one year and four months in total out on a spouse visa, since 2002, I have compleated a 5 year period on a work permit. Can I apply for residence now?

(Mr J Singh, 11 January 2009)


Many foreign nationals who wished to work in the UK were required to obtain a work permit before coming to the UK. Foreign nationals who needed a work permit would be denied entry to the UK if they travelled before obtaining one. In addition to a work permit, some foreign citizens require a visa before the come to the UK. These include nationals of countries who always require a visa to come to the UK (visa nationals) and those who held a work permit that was valid for six months or longer.

On 27 November 2008 the old work permit scheme was replaced with Tier 2 of the new points-based immigration system. Workers who originally came to the UK under the work permit scheme will be entitled to apply to transfer to the new Tier 2 category. Tier 2 – General applies to foreign nationals who come to the UK with an offer of a skilled job which could not be filled by a worker already resident in the UK.

Foreign workers who come to the UK under the Tier 2 General category will be given permission to stay in the UK for a period up to a maximum of three years and one month. At the end of the initial period foreign nationals who wish to continue working in the UK must apply to extend their leave to remain in the country. Additional leave to remain may be granted for a further period of up to a maximum of two years. Foreign workers who originally came to the UK under the old work permit scheme may apply to extend their stay under the Tier 2 category pursuant to transitional arrangements put into place after the implementation of the new points-based scheme.

Once workers in the Tier 2 category have been in the UK for a continuous period of five years they may be eligible to apply for permanent residency – also known as indefinite leave to remain or settlement. The worker’s employer will have to confirm in writing that the foreign worker is still required for the job and will have to supply a new certificate of sponsorship in support of the worker’s application for permanent residence.

For any application for permanent residence to succeed, the applicant must have been in the UK with the appropriate visa or other permission throughout the five-year qualifying period. It is essential that all visa requirements you had were satisfied both before and after you were on a spouse visa. If at any time during the five-year period you did not have permission to be in the UK, your application for permanent residence is likely to fail. It may be wise to get specific advice on this point before starting an application.

Free advice on immigration issues may be available from The Citizens Advice Bureau, The Immigration Advisory Service or Community Legal Advice.

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hi i want to ask if my mum can send the sponsorship to my cousin. he lives in italy and he has not got the italian passport but he has the permission to work in italy, he has like a visa. he is interested to visit the UK just to see and once he ll receive his passport for any reason he ll try to come and live. What does he has to do? will it be hard ? and will it be possible for it?
Jaismeen - 7-Sep-20 @ 4:10 PM
I am an EU citizen, soon to be living in the UK for 5 years, and I would like to apply for UK citizenship later. I am currently employed by a UK company. I have a job offer from abroad, with option to work from my home, in the UK. Are there any requirements related to my employment in terms of applying for indefinite leave to remain and naturalisation later?
EP - 16-Feb-20 @ 12:49 PM
My son does not earn enough for his American fiancé to come here on a family visa. Can we, as his parents, sponsor her? They intend to marry within 6 months.
Jeannette - 1-Jun-19 @ 9:02 AM
Hi I am a British Citizen born in the UK but have never worked there. If I retired there would I be entitled to NHS or would I incur a surcharge. My Wife is a South African citizen and we are busy applying for a spousal Visa. She has worked in the UK and has a social security number what would her charges be for the 5 year visa.
AS - 23-May-19 @ 7:43 AM
I have an Africa boyfriend you is here on a student visa which runs out in September. What is the best route for him to go down regarding to stay in the uk for longer
Ems - 17-Mar-19 @ 4:39 PM
I've been British for 2 decades and decided to renounce my second nationality (which is not British) but cannot officially do that due to the risk involved as it is considered treason by the second country. I've been told that under British law it is not required to proof of renunciation of the second nationality. while doing some unrelated research, I remember coming across this particular law/policy but can not remember where it was. Could you help me to find it. Many thanks
Fa - 11-Dec-18 @ 3:09 PM
Hello, I am an EU national and moved to the UK in 1997 and have lived and worked here ever since. My twins were born in 2002. Their dad is German too and they have only had German passports so far. I would like to clarify whether they are eligible to apply for British passports straight away or whether they have to register as British citizens first, which is costly. The passport helpline says I have to provide a document, such as a permanent residence permit or a document proving my indefinite leave to remain to prove that I have been living and working here the five previous years before their births. I can easily provide P60s for the relevant period 1997-2002, but I do not have either of the two documents they are listing as examples. In fact, I have been told by the Home Office that the Permanent Residence Permit for EU Nationals can only be backdated to April 2006. Is there any way I could apply for a certificate for indefinite leave to remain and have it backdated to 2002? They do accept something as simple as a stamp in your passport issued by border control upon entering the UK but I do not have any stamps in my old passport, due to the fact that I am an EU National. Many thanks for your advice in this matter.
Anya - 1-Nov-18 @ 8:24 PM
@none - Your daughter is automatically a British citizen.
TJ. - 30-Oct-18 @ 10:23 AM
Greetings...I'm a UK born Citizen. I have a 7 year old daughter with my Filipina girlfriend. She was born and lives in the Philippines. I want to have her registered. Is she automatically a British Citizen? Thank you, Ian
none - 26-Oct-18 @ 1:24 AM
Hello! Firstly Thanks for providing this facility to ask a question. This girl I am going to get married to is Indian and completes 10 years stay in the UK by 9th sep. she is earning more than 20k a year and have payslips. Myself, I was on Tier2 visa and i got out of the company last year and legal till july 2017. I'm overstaying now. can I marry her and get a legal status? Thank you.
karts - 27-Aug-18 @ 12:33 PM
What are the chances of my Vietnam girlfriend getting a UK visit visa with me ( a UK National/good job) if she has an overstay endorsement from Singapore on her passport?
Hector - 21-Aug-18 @ 1:59 PM
khiz - Your Question:
Can my wife apply for me if I was deported from uk ?My wife is uk national.

Our Response:
If you were deported from the UK and your wife applies the same re-entry ban will apply to you personally.
AboutImmigration - 16-Aug-18 @ 12:10 PM
can my wife apply for me if i was deported from uk ? My wife is uk national ....
khiz - 15-Aug-18 @ 6:12 PM
Our Phillipino carer came over on a spousal visa. His current visa is up in a month's time and I wonder how we can help him to stay. He has looked after my husband for 4 years, and my husband is under palliative care as he now nears the end of his life. I don't want anything happening that could be a shock to him.
RB - 30-Jul-18 @ 9:58 AM
I have lived in the UK for 13 years and five months. My last visa expired in 2009. I am now married and my wife has indefinite leave to remain. We have a son who is British. How do i apply to regularise my stay?
AJ - 21-Jul-18 @ 5:31 PM
My girlfriend is Indonesian.She came to the UK for holiday last October and then she came back in November and left before her 6 month visa expired.She is now in US and wants to come back to UK to live with me.How can she do this and what cost if married or not married? Thanks for any advice and help greatly appreciated.
marty - 15-Jul-18 @ 10:47 PM
ES - Your Question:
Hi,I am on Intra-company transfer visa and working in UK since 2014.My son born in UK in the year 2015.Want to check whether my son is eligible for UK settlement visa?And also is there any changes on cooling period with latest immigration rules.Appreciate for your response.

Our Response:
Unless either parent is a British citizen or has ILR/settled status, then your son will not be eligible for British citizenship.
AboutImmigration - 29-Jun-18 @ 11:02 AM
Hi,I am on Intra-company transfer visa and working in UK since 2014.My son born in UKin the year 2015.Want to check whether my son is eligible for UK settlement visa? And also is there any changes on cooling period with latest immigration rules. Appreciate for your response.
ES - 28-Jun-18 @ 2:58 PM
@Nicole - you can apply for a Fiancee family visa instead of a marriage visitor visa and you will not have to leave the UK after marriage.
TJ. - 27-May-18 @ 9:58 PM
Hello, I am a USA permanent resident. My country of citizenship is Peru. My boyfriend is a UK citizen. I want to go live in the UK permanently but I'm not sure what the requirements are. I've found that the first step would be to get a "marriage visitor visa" so that I could go to the UK, get married, but I'd have to go back the the USA after 6 months. What I want to know is what comes after that? How do I apply to go settle in the UK? What kind of visa do I need and how long does it take? Hope someone can help me. Thank you!
Nicole - 27-May-18 @ 4:46 PM
i have Tier -4 student visa & am studying since oct 2016 in UK Initially i had one year T-4 visa which i extended from within Uk till Oct 2019 till my Graduation .I want to marry ( In UK )a British passport holder & she is student also . what should be my line for applying indefinite Leave to Stay . Will the years i have spent till Oct 2019 be accounted for in the PR period ?
jan - 1-May-18 @ 7:50 AM
@TJ - also, I was under the understanding that as USA is a country on the UK's designated country list.that the US adoption orders are recognised in the UK?
trinityxx - 25-Apr-18 @ 4:39 PM
Hi @TJ - thank you so much for clarifying that but please could you explain how I would go about obtaining UK adoption orders through an agency? - I assume you mean a UK agency ?
trinityxx - 25-Apr-18 @ 4:20 PM
@trinity - Because you did not adopt the children in the UK, the UK Home Office will recognise them as international adoptions. Because you were not resident in the UK when the adoptions took place your children are not British citizens nor eligible for British passports. There are two options available to you regarding their British citizenship. Option 1. Obtain UK adoption orders for the children through an agency and this will make them automatic British citizens eligible for British passports. Option 2. Using the US adoption orders, apply to register the children as British citizens under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (Home Secretary's discretion). In my view the first option tends to be more successful especially where one parent isn't a British citizen.
TJ. - 25-Apr-18 @ 7:39 AM
Hi seeking advice I am british citizen living in US (for 4 years).I am married to an american man, we just have adopted 1 child and am in process of adopting another.I want to return to UK next year - what do i need to do to get my adopted children UK passports and citizenship? also, can anyone recommend UK solicitor who can help us....have spoken to a few but many are confusing my case with international adoption ...which ours is not because we adopted US children while living in the US.Thanks in advance.
trinity - 24-Apr-18 @ 11:21 PM
LIAN - Your Question:
I am a Malaysian and wish to know the criteria for applying a permanent residence in UK. Is owning properties amounting certain value is entitle to apply?

Our Response:
You can see via the link here if you are entitled to apply for permanent residence.
AboutImmigration - 16-Apr-18 @ 3:34 PM
I am a Malaysian and wish to know the criteria for applying a permanent residence in UK. Is owning properties amounting certain value is entitle to apply?
LIAN - 16-Apr-18 @ 7:39 AM
@Nanda - If you are a British citizen you can live outside the UK for as long as you choose and will not lose citizenship. There is no time limit for applying for a British passport if you already are a British citizen.
TJ. - 8-Mar-18 @ 8:45 PM
I have British citizenship. How long can I stay out of the country? I know that leave to remain can stay out for 2 years, does it apply to British citizenship too? Is there a maximum period to apply for the passport after you get the certificate?
Nanda - 8-Mar-18 @ 2:21 PM
mlh1975 - Your Question:
Hi, I met my wife in late 2014 here in the UK, I was born in UK so I am UK citizen and shes Romanian and we've been together ever since. We moved in together in September 2015 and married in October 2016. What do we need to do with regards to brexit etc. Is my wife safe here after brexit, shes had a hard time finding work so for much of the three years we've been together I have supported her. However I don't want a situation when brexit comes of it breaking us up. I've looked online but find it awfully confusing on what I need to do in terms of citizenship etc.

Our Response:
Please see the link: Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know here, which will give you the information you need to help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:22 PM
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