New UK emigration changes could affect some South Africans’ residency without warning

The UK’s Home Office has announced that it will change how it assess the continuous residence rules for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications.

According to emigration consultants Breytenbachs, the changes would come into effect from 11 January 2018.

ILR is the expression confirming the fact that there is no limit to the period that you can stay in the UK.

“This is also often referred to as permanent residence, which is the status that is granted to a person on the basis that they are settled in the UK,” Breytenbachs said.

The group outlined the new changes below.

Previous rules vs new rules

Up to 10 January 2018, the Home Office assessed continuous residence in the UK as follows:

  • A person submitted his/her application for Indefinite Leave to Remain on 15 December 2017.
  • The Home Office then counts back 365 days to check that the applicant was not absent for more than 180 days during that 12-month period.
  • They will also check for the same in the 4 previous 12-month periods running from 16 December to 15 December of each year.

From 11 January 2018, the Home Office will now assess continuous residence in the UK as follows:

  • A person submits her application for Indefinite Leave to Remain on 11 January 2018.
  • The Home Office checks that the applicant was not absent for more than 180 days in any 12-month period over the five years.

Why this matters

Although it may seem like a small change, it might have far-reaching implications for some ILR applicants, Breytenbachs said.

“Previously a person could spread their absence from the UK over two rolling 12-month periods. Now they can no longer do so,” it said.

“These changes are implemented with immediate effect on 11 January 2018, and applicants had no previous warnings of this. This might be problematic for ILR applicants who frequently travel for business and other reasons.

“In cases where an application is refused, in most cases the applicant will be able to apply for an extension of their current visa. However, some Tier 2 applicants might not be so fortunate. Currently, there is a limit of a 6-year stay on the Tier 2 General category.

“The Free Movement organisation said in their analysis of the rule changes that they hope that the new Home Office case-working guidance will allow for some scope for caseworkers to use discretion in their calculations. We can only hope so too and see what the future holds,” it said.

Read: More than 30 jobs that could allow South Africans to move to the UK with almost no restrictions

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