How long can you be out of the UK before your ILR expires?

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) when leaving the UK to reside elsewhere, you must return to the UK to re-settle within two years or your ILR becomes invalid, you lose your status.

Section 18 of the Immigration Rules1:

A person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom as a returning resident may be admitted for settlement provided the Immigration Officer is satisfied that the person concerned:
(i) had indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom when he last left; and
(ii) has not been away from the United Kingdom for more than 2 years; and
(iii) did not receive assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving the United Kingdom; and
(iv) now seeks admission for the purpose of settlement.


If you intend to leave for longer than two years, it is advised to become naturalised (get your British Citizenship) and aquire a UK passport before you leave (or from abroad via an embassy). You cannot occassionally visit to get your passport stamped in order to revalidate/extend your ILR.

There are rare exceptions to the two year rule, described in the Rules.

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