Days outside the UK

June 5, 2019 1,523

In some cases, when you apply for an extension visa or for settlement there is a limit on the number of days you are allowed to have spent outside the UK. If you have spent more days outside the UK than is allowed by the limit then your application is likely to be refused.

This applies to working visas, eg Tier 1, Tier 2, Representative of Overseas Business. It also applies – but not so strictly – to those applying for EU Settled Status.

But other categories do not have any rules about this: for example leave as a refugee or leave as a spouse/partner.

However, if you eventually go on to apply for British naturalisation then you will encounter much stricter rules and so, if you are thinking about this possibility, you need to be aware of them at an early stage.

If you are applying for British naturalisation under the five-route then the basic rule is that you should not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK during that five-year period, and of the days that you have spent outside not more than 90 of them should have been in the last 12 months.

If you are applying under the three-year rule (ie on the basis of marriage to a British citizen) then the basic rule is 270 days in the last three years and, similarly, not more than 90 of them during the last 12 months.

To give an interesting example: somebody who has been on a working visa for five years and who has met the rules about days spent outside the UK (ie not more than 180 per 12 months) may successfully acquire settlement but find that they are unable to make a successful application for British citizenship because the rules are stricter.

And somebody who holds leave as a spouse/partner may find themselves in a similar situation.

But in the case of spouse/partner visas, the rules are very vague. There is no rule, not even an 180-day rule, about time spent outside the UK when applying for extension or settlement.

But we advise clients to be careful about this. If they are spending less then half their time in the UK then the UK does not appear to be their main residence, and thus their presence in the UK does not look very solid. The relevant rules refer to a “continuous period” of residence “in the UK”, although these expressions are not defined. But caution dictates not to take this too far.

And we advise clients to be even more careful about British naturalisation applications. Whether you are on the five-year or three-year route you will need to plan your movements well in advance so as to be sure that you meet the residence requirements when the time comes.

At Get UK Visa we have a lot of experience of these issues, and we will be able to advise you accurately.

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