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Building a Secure Future in the UK: Advantages of the Private Life Visa

The Private Life route presents a lesser-known avenue for immigration towards permanent residency in the UK.

Depending on your age upon arrival in the UK and the duration of your residency here, you might qualify to apply for residency and eventual settlement based on your entitlement to a Private Life in the UK. This article will delineate the eligibility criteria for pursuing the Private Life route towards permanent settlement in the UK.

What is a UK Private Life Visa?

The UK private life visa enables individuals to remain in the UK and eventually achieve permanent settlement based on their established private life here. This entitlement stems from Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which affirms:

  • Every individual has the right to the respect of their private and family life, their home, and their correspondence.
  • Public authorities should not interfere with this right except when necessary by law and in a democratic society, for reasons such as national security, public safety, economic well-being, prevention of disorder or crime, protection of health or morals, or safeguarding the rights and freedoms of others.

If you have lived continuously but unlawfully in the UK for long periods, it may be possible to obtain lawful immigration status through a private life application.

Some people arrived in the UK as visitors or students and did not return to their home country but never obtained lawful permission to stay in the UK. Some came to the UK as children and did not realize they had no legal immigration status until they tried to find work or study at university.

Eligibility Conditions

Your eligibility for application will be determined by your age and the duration of your stay in the UK. Here are the various types of Private Life Applications:

  • 1) Adults who have completed 20 years of continuous residence.
  • 2) Children who have completed 7 years of residence.
  • 3) Young adults (aged 18-25) who have spent half of their life in the UK.
  • 4) Adults who have not completed 20 years in the UK, but face significant obstacles to integration into their home country if returned.

For all applications, it's crucial to demonstrate continuous residency in the UK for the required number of years. Gathering evidence of this can be challenging if you have lived in the UK without lawful status.

The last type of application listed is particularly challenging. You'll need to present compelling evidence showing the extreme difficulty of returning to your country of nationality such as financial hardship and societal barriers. Factors considered include the duration of your absence, your age at departure, and whether you have familial or support ties in your home country.

Private Life applications often face high refusal rates, necessitating robust evidence. However, if your application is rejected, you can typically challenge the decision through the appeals process. Refer to our Appeals section for more information.

When Can I Apply To Settle Based on My Right To A Private Life?

After residing in the UK for a qualifying period of 5 or 10 years through the Private Life route, individuals become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR grants the right to permanent residency in the UK, allowing individuals to live, work, and study without immigration restrictions. Following an additional 12 months, they can apply for British citizenship and a UK passport. Eligibility for ILR based on the right to private life includes:

  • 1. Continuous residency in the UK since birth for at least 7 years, with the Home Office acknowledging it as unreasonable to expect departure.
  • 2. Previous or current permission to stay on the private life route as a child or young adult meeting the half-life test and having lived in the UK continuously for 5 years.
  • 3. Individuals aged 18 or above who do not meet the 5-year settlement route criteria can apply if they have continuously resided in the UK for 10 years.

In addition, candidates for ILR must pass the Life in the UK Test and achieve minimum CEFR level B1 competence standards in English.

How Long Can You Stay in the UK Under the Private Life Visa route?

Your circumstances will dictate the length of your stay and when to apply for settlement. Private Life visas are normally granted for 30 months (2.5 years). However, you may apply for a 5-year visa, with settlement eligibility after 5 years, if you are under 18 and have lived continuously in the UK for at least 7 years, or if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 and have lived in the UK for half of your life.

Alternatively, after ten years, relocation to the UK is feasible if:

  • You would have a difficult time adjusting to life back home in your home country if you are 18 years of age or older and have lived in the UK for fewer than 20 years.
  • You were born in the United Kingdom to someone who either already has permission to remain in the country based on their circumstances or is currently seeking it.

Furthermore, you may choose the extended leave-to-stay option to extend your family's private life visa for an additional 30 months.

It's important to remember that you need to file for an ILR or visa extension before your existing visa expires to be able to lawfully stay in the country. If you don't, you can be labeled an overstayer and face harsh repercussions.

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