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Private Life Immigration Rules Change

There is a part of the Home Office’s Immigration Rules called the “Private Life” rules. This admittedly sounds rather obscure, and what it relates to is migrants who have been in the UK for long periods unlawfully without immigration status but who want to regularise their status and become “legal”. These rules were recently changed and they have in some ways become more generous.

In many cases such a migrant might have originally come legally to the UK but might have overstayed for a significant period; in other cases the migrant might have been born in the UK to parents who had no legal status. In yet other cases a migrant might have come illegally to the UK and never held legal status here.

The rules hold the possibility of applying for either limited leave or settlement under the private life route, depending on the circumstances, and they are fairly complex.

Where the applicant is an adult, ie aged at least 18, but is under 25, and who originally came to the UK as a child (whether legally or illegally), they must have spent at least half their life in the UK for a potentially successful application. They may be granted limited leave for up to five years.

Where the applicant is an adult but who cannot rely on the under 25/half their life rule, they must seek to rely on one of two other rules: (1) if they have lived in the UK for at least 20 years continuously they may be able to make a successful application – but of course the period of residence has to be proved to a sufficient standard.

Or (2), if the applicant has been in the UK for any period less than 20 years they can still submit an application but in this case they have to meet a difficult hurdle, that “there would be very significant obstacles to the applicant’s integration into the country where they would have to live if required to leave the UK”. This application tends to be difficult.

In either case a successful applicant will be granted two and a half years’ leave.

The rules are different for children. A child can apply in their own right, irrespective of the situation with the parents (but in many cases there are associated complexities with this).

A child who was not born in the UK but who has lived here continuously for at least seven years may qualify for a grant of leave for up to five years, whereas a child born in the UK and who has lived here for at least seven years may qualify for immediate settlement.

But with children’s applications there is also an extra hurdle, that “it is not reasonable to expect the applicant to leave the UK”, and this issue is likely to revolve around the situation with the parents.

A child who has spent five years limited leave under the private life route may be able to apply for settlement but with an adult they may have to spend either five years or ten years, depending on the circumstances.

As we see, these rules are sometimes complex. If you want advice about this area we at GSN Immigration will try and assist you.


Oliver Westmoreland

Level 3 Immigration Consultant