Resident Visa for UK

| January 25, 2023
Resident Permit UK

The United Kingdom, which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is a popular destination for many foreign nationals seeking a better life or wishing to be closer to family members already resident in one of the four countries. Entering the UK as a tourist or short-term visitor is a relatively straightforward process involving acquiring a suitable visa but seeking permanent residency is not such an easy undertaking due to strict immigration policies.
For some people wishing to move to the United Kingdom on a permanent basis there is no problem as they automatically have a right of residency while for others it can be a challenging, difficult and lengthy process.

Right to Reside

The simplest way of becoming a permanent resident of the United Kingdom is under what is termed the “right to reside” system. The right to reside entitles a person to live and work in the UK and automatically applies to certain groups of people. These include:

  • British citizens
  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland
  • Persons who have obtained a pre-settled or settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme
  • Persons who have ILE (indefinite leave to enter) or ILR (indefinite leave to remain) status

Persons exempted from immigration controls

Applying for pre-settled or settled status is open to citizens of all of the European Union member states as well as those from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The scheme is only available to those applicants who were resident in the United Kingdom on the last day of December in 2020 or had a family member living within the jurisdiction on that date. Unfortunately the deadline for applications passed on the 30th June 2021 although applications may still be submitted if there are valid reasons why the deadline date was missed.

Exemption from immigration is a special category which usually only applies to foreign heads of state and other dignitaries as designated by the British government and authorities.

Types of Residency Permit

There are different types of residency permits and which one is chosen will usually depend on one of three factors:

  • Relatives already resident in the United Kingdom
  • Reasons for the residency permit
  • Nationality of the applicant

There are several ways to apply for residency but the basic steps toward a successful application as they apply to non-Europeans are fairly standard:

Family Permit

Applicants with family members who are European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals with settlement status in the United Kingdom, and resident there for a minimum period of six months, can apply for a family permit. This entitles the holder to remain within the UK as a temporary resident. Once six months have passed the holder is then eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status.

Biometric Residence Permit

Applicants who have no qualified relations residing in the UK can apply for a Biometric Residence Permit. These are issued on a case-by-case basis and are usually reserved for those seeking residency for educational, professional or other reasons acceptable to the UK authorities.

This form of permit allows the holder to remain within the UK for more than the usual six months that applies to normal visas and can even lead to permanent residency in some cases. It should be noted that certain conditions may be attached to the permit such as a limited access to government services and health benefits.

The application process includes supplying basic personal information as well as biometric data including fingerprints as well as a scanned facial image and signature.

Derivative Residence Card

A Derivative Residence Card is a little used but legitimate means of attaining residency in the United Kingdom. It is only available to EEA citizens who are the designated primary caretaker for a UK citizen or resident. Children of a primary caretaker may also qualify for a derivative residency card but all applications must be lodged from within the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth Citizens and Family

Citizens of any of the Commonwealth countries with at least one parent who is a citizen of the UK may apply for permanent residency. This permit is also available to the spouses of UK citizens while civil partnerships are subject to case-by-case approval.


Similar to the Commonwealth citizens route, it is also possible to apply for residency via an eligible grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom. Qualification for the permit by ancestry depends on the applicant having spent five consecutive years in the UK and to have entered the jurisdiction legally under the ancestry rules.

Asylum Claim

It is possible for citizens of countries involved in conflict or in crisis to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. A valid reason such as fear of persecution, unjustified imprisonment, torture or death will be required and only applicants from certain countries or regions of conflict will be considered. Once in the United Kingdom, and asylum has been sought through the proper channels, the applicant may reside in the UK while the application is being decided which can take up to six months and sometimes longer.

While awaiting a decision, asylum seekers are not allowed to take up employment and will be required to meet an appointed case worker on a regular basis. Although the majority of asylum seekers are adults a growing number of unaccompanied children are currently arriving in the UK and these minors are also eligible to seek asylum.

Asylum Process

Seeking asylum in the United Kingdom can be a long and drawn out process. Firstly the asylum seeker must be from a recognised area of conflict and have a genuine reason (or reasons) why it is impossible or dangerous to return home.

All applications for asylum must be made immediately upon arrival as delay may lead to confusion and problems with processing the application. Once an application is made, a meeting (called “a screening”) will be arranged with an immigration case officer who will consider the merits (or lack thereof) of the application.

Following the screening, instructions will be given to the applicant as to the next steps that should be taken as well as information regarding what is and is not permissible while the application is being processed. Currently this means that an asylum seeker cannot work or leave the country and must also attend regular reporting meetings to keep both the applicant and case worker up to date on the latest developments pertaining to the case in question.

Applying for asylum in the United Kingdom is a serious matter and should not be undertaken lightly or as a quick route into the UK. Supplying false or misleading information on the application is punishable by up to two years in prison or even result in immediate expulsion from the United Kingdom.