You need a Returning Resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled (given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and you have either:
lost your documentation
been away for more than 2 years
You don’t need a visa if you have your original documentation confirming your settled status and you’ve been away for less than 2 years.
You may still need to apply for a visa if you’ve been asked to confirm you can travel to the UK, for example by the airline you’re travelling with.
Eligibility for Returning Resident visa
plan to return to live in the UK permanently
have been settled in the UK before you last left
not have been given public funds to help you leave the UK
If you’ve been away for more than 2 years
You won’t get a Returning Resident visa unless you’re also able to show what exceptional personal circumstances have led to you being out of the country for this long.
You must provide enough evidence to show:
your strong family ties to the UK
you lived in the UK most of your life
your current circumstances and why you’ve lived outside of the UK
You won’t lose your indefinite leave to remain after 2 years outside the UK if you have accompanied your spouse or partner on an overseas posting and they’re a:
member of the UK armed forces serving overseas
permanent member of Diplomatic Service
UK-based employee of the British Council
Department for International Development employee and a British Citizen (or they’re settled in the UK)
Home Office employee
Family members (‘dependants’)
Your dependants (partner and children under 18) need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa if they’re eligible.
It costs £324 to apply.
How long it takes
Check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in your country.
How long you can stay
You can return to live permanently in the UK.
You’ll need to provide:
a current passport or other valid travel identification
a passport-sized colour photograph
documents that prove you have ties to the UK, eg proof you’ve earned income, or rented or owned property, in the UK
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
Read the guide for a full list of documents you need to provide.
You must apply online for a Returning Resident visa.
You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.
You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in – check with your visa application centre.
You can’t apply online from North Korea.