Following the rule change earlier this year in relation to the absence requirements for those seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) through one of the Points Based System categories, we have received an increasing number of enquiries from individuals who hold leave in the UK as the spouse or partner of a British citizen and are concerned about absences. Here we look at the rules relating to absences in spouse ILR applications.
Individuals who hold leave to remain in the UK under the Immigration Rules relating to spouses and partners are often concerned that their absences from the UK must not exceed 180 days in any 12-month period.
No specific limits
The good news when considering absences in spouse ILR applications is that there is in fact no formal absence requirement in relation to applications for either further leave to remain or ILR and excessive absences from the UK should not therefore automatically lead to an application being refused.
Home Office expectations
However, whilst there is no formal limit to absences for spouse ILR applications, the Home Office does expect that those who hold leave to remain in the UK under this category should spend the majority of the time living in the UK with their partner.
The Home Office’s internal guidance to caseworkers states, in relation to absences, that:
‘In applications for further leave to remain in the UK as a partner, where there have been limited periods of time spent outside the UK, this must be for good reasons and must be consistent with the intention to live permanently together in the UK.’
Applicants must therefore explain any excessive absences from the UK to the Home Office when an application is made.
Whilst holidays will generally be overlooked, especially if holidaying as a couple, the reasons for any additional absences should be examined. Where relevant, a detailed explanation and evidence of the reason for any unusual or excessive absences should be provided to the Home Office when making an application.
How we can assist
We are experienced in advising upon and preparing visa applications for spouses who have concerns over their absences. We provide expert guidance and assistance throughout the process.
If you require legal advice about a spouse visa application, our immigration specialists are available for an initial discussion and can be contacted here.