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20 Year Long Residence Guidance

Westkin Associates are here to assist overstayers in the UK. This page offers information on the 20 year residence rule. For more information on how our lawyers can assist you, please call our office on 0207 118 4546.

What is the 20 year long residence rule?

On 9th July 2012, The UKBA closed the 14-year rule and introduced a different provision for overstayers who have lived in the United Kingdom for 20 years.

The rule, Rule 276, allows a legal route to permanent residency for those who have lived in the UK for 20 years. This is only applicable to 20 year overstayers and not those who have undertaken 10 years illegal stay in the UK.

Our team of immigration lawyers in London are well experienced in assisting people who have overstayed their UK Visa. We understand that this may be a scary time for you, but we are here to help and are ready to take on your case. Our first chat is free of charge, confidential and commitment-free. Please call our office on 0207 118 4546 for information on how we can help you.

20 year residence rule requirements

(a) The applicant has to prove through documentation, that he has lived in the UK for 20 years. This period does not include any period of imprisonment.

(b) It should be noted that any period of imprisonment does not mean that the 20-year period starts again, whereas simply that the 20-year period is put on hold and only recommences once the period of imprisonment is over.

(c) If an applicant has been subject to a prison sentence of over 12 months, it may not be automatic that the application will be granted.

20 year long residence: documents required

As part of your 20 year long residence application, you’ll need to provide evidence which proves that you have lived in the UK continuously for 20 years. This can include:

  • Bank statements
  • Housing or accommodation records
  • Information on your work, such as payslips or letters from an employer

How to apply for 20 year residence

Your 20 year long residence application will include the following steps:

  • Submitting an application through the online application form.
  • Providing biometric information and supporting documents such as your passport and proof of living in the UK continuously for 20 years.
  • Some applicants may be required to attend an interview if their case is more complex.

Our team at Westkin can assist you in collating the necessary evidence to support your application. If you require our assistance, please get in touch by calling our office on 0207 118 4546.

Common fears under the 20-year residence rule

(a) Clients are often worried that any illegal work or work undertaken with false documents will prejudice an application. Although this is a matter that has to be dealt with carefully, it should be noted that this will not automatically lead to the application being dismissed.

(b) Clients are often concerned that the immigration authorities will be unfavourable to them as they have overstayed. Again, although this has to be dealt with carefully, the rule is designed to cover those who have overstayed and takes that into account.

Status under 20-year residence rule

Unlike under the 10-year rule of lawful residence, applicants under the 20-year rule do not obtain indefinite leave to remain immediately. Under the relevant immigration rule, successful applicants receive discretionary leave for 10 years.

It is only at the end of this 10-year period does the applicant obtain indefinite leave to remain.

What is discretionary leave?

Discretionary leave is a form of leave to remain which is granted to an individual outside of the usual immigration rules. Discretionary leave is only permitted in rare circumstances and  is intended to cover exceptional and compassionate circumstances.

Discretionary leave allows:

(a) applicant to travel outside of the United Kingdom;
(b) return to the United Kingdom;
(c) take legal permission to work;
(d) claim benefits.

Contact our leading immigration lawyers on 0207 118 4546 if you wish to discuss the matter at a consultation.

How Westkin deal with 20-year long residence applications

(a) Clients should contact our London offices, where one of our specialist immigration lawyers will discuss the matter in order to see whether, on the face of it, you have a case.

(b) You will then be invited to a consultation, which lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes and costs £150 pounds including VAT.

(c) You will then be quoted a price for the entire work which is around £2,000 pounds, depending on the complexity of the case.

Contact our immigration lawyers today on 0207 118 4546 to commence your case.

20 year residence rule FAQ


What to do if I overstay in the UK for 20 years?

Individuals who have lived in the UK for over 20 years may have grounds to apply for a visa or for leave to remain. Every case is different and dependent on your circumstances, for example, how long you have overstayed your visa, and your reasons. The best course of action is to seek legal assistance with your case.

Where should I send my application for 20 years overstayed?

Applications for 20 year long residence are made online through the UK government website, however, it is recommended that you first get in touch with a UK immigration lawyer who can assist you with your case and help you in gathering the necessary documentation.

How does a 20-year overstayer get right of abode?

Having right of abode means that you are permitted to live in the UK without immigration restrictions. If you have overstayed your visa, you will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement. To find out if you are eligible, please get in touch.

What are the 20 years long residence requirements?

Under the 20 year rule a person does not have to have lived in the UK lawfully. Rather, they must have lived in the UK continuously over a period of 20 years. Individuals will be required to provide proof of this as part of their application.

Our team of expert lawyers and solicitors at Westkin in central London are on hand to help you with your case, no matter how complex. We understand that overstaying your visa can cause much stress, and that every case is different. We are here to help you and provide confidential, commitment free advice. To speak to us about your case, please get in touch by calling our London office on 0207 118 4546 or through our contact form.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom

0207 118 4546


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