All British citizens and the citizens of some Commonwealth countries have the right to live in the UK. Citizens of these countries who do not have a passport to prove this may apply for a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode to prove that they are permitted to live and work in the UK.
Citizens of the European Economic Area are entitled to live and work in the UK under European law. However, they must show that they are able to support themselves and their families financially without having to rely on public funds.
Citizens of other countries may be entitled to apply for UK residency if they satisfy certain criteria.
Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent who was born in the UK can apply for permanent residence on the basis of UK ancestry. Applications must be made, and permission granted, before coming to the UK. Rights of residency based on UK ancestry cannot be claimed if the applicant entered the UK on another basis.
To be eligible for UK residency under this heading, Commonwealth citizens must be at least 17 years old. They must also prove that they can, and intend to, work in the UK, and can support themselves and any dependant family.
Partners and Children
The husbands, wives or civil partners of UK residents are entitled to live in the UK with their partner but must prove that the marriage or civil partnership is genuine and fulfil certain financial eligibility requirements. They are not automatically entitled to permanent residence. Partners will have to obtain entry clearance before coming to the UK.
Prospective spouses and couples who are not married but live together as if they were may also apply for temporary residence to join their UK resident partner. Special rules apply to those who come to the UK to marry a UK resident.
Children of UK permanent residents who are under the age of 18 and unmarried will usually be entitled to permanent residency in the UK but will have to obtain entry clearance before they travel.
Some members of a UK resident’s extended family may be entitled to UK residency. Widowed parents aged at least 65 or grandparents where one is aged at least 65 can apply to live in the UK with their family member.
In some cases children over the age of 18, siblings, aunts and uncles, and parents or grandparents under the age of 65 may also come to live in the UK. However, there is no automatic entitlement for these relatives to have UK residency. To be considered they will have to show that:
- They are entirely or mostly financially dependent on the UK resident;
- They have no close family members in their own country who can support them; and,
- The UK resident can afford to support them financially.
Permanent UK residents who have lived abroad for less than two years may return to live in the UK if they intend to live here permanently. Former UK residents who have lived abroad for longer than two years may be entitled to return if they can show that they have lived in the UK for most of their lives or have close family there.
Foreign Citizens with Temporary Leave to Remain in the UK
Foreign nationals who have been granted temporary leave to live in the UK may be entitled to apply for permanent residence after they have been in the UK continuously for a number of years. Whether people in this category will be entitled to permanent residence will depend on the type of visa under which they have been in the UK. To be successful applicants will usually have to show a good understanding of the English language and life in the UK.