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I am South African and have been in the UK on an ancestry visa for the last few years. However, I arrived in the UK three months after my visa started.

This means that when my visa ends, I will not have been in the UK for 5 years - only for 4 years and 9 months.

Does this mean that, in order to completely the 5-year residence period necessary to settle, I must apply to extend my ancestry visa?

Or can I apply for settlement just before my visa ends - is there leeway in the 5-year period, or is it strict?

Thanks, Louise :)

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Introduction

You should consider getting legal advice on this, as the stakes are quite high.

Arriving in the UK later than expected may indeed be a problem: when we moved the UK on Ancestry our immigration lawyer warned us we had to arrive as quickly as possible after the effective date of the visa, so as to avoid the cost of having to extend.

Effective Date

Note that you will need to calculate the days elapsed based on the "effective date" of the visa (when you're allowed to first arrive), not on the "issuance date" (the date the visa was granted in the first place).

The eligibility rule depends exactly how many days you were absent - you mention "3 months", but you will need to be more precise than that to know if you're eligible for ILR or not.

IRL Application Date

It's also worth noting that you you have some leeway about when you apply for the ILR - it may be worth holding off submitting your application until just before it expires.

During the period your ILR application is pending at the Home Office you are allowed to remain in the country: The earliest that you can apply for ILR is 28 days before you're eligible - but the postal ILR application can take 6 months to be approved. So there's a period where your visa could expire, but you're waiting for ILR approval.

You obviously need to be very sure that you have all your documents and paperwork sorted out before doing this!

Day Calculation

In the document Indefinite leave to remain: calculating continuous period in UK (page 22) the guidance reads:

Period between the issue of entry clearance and entering the UK

The period between entry clearance being issued and the applicant entering the UK may be counted toward the qualifying period, as long as it does not exceed 90 days. This can occur if the applicant is delayed travelling to the UK.

The period of delay will not be counted as an absence from the UK if it does not exceed 90 days. You must only include whole days in this calculation. Part day absences, for example, less than 24 hours, are not counted. Therefore if the applicant arrived in the UK on day 91, the period would not exceed 90 days.

If the delay is more than 90 days, none of the period between entry clearance being issued and the applicant entering the UK can be included in the continuous period calculation.

According to this ExpatForum post, if the delay was for compassionate reasons you may be able to ask them for further leeway. I've not found reference to this in the guidance, though, so your mileage may vary.

If you've exceeded 90 days, you will unfortunately need to pay for an extension of your Ancestry visa.

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    Thank you, very comprehensive answer, that document is a very good source. – Louise Apr 6 '16 at 9:42
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The requirements have been updated (January 2018) to 180 days:

Indefinite leave to remain: calculating continuous period in UK Version 16.0

"Period between the issue of entry clearance and entering the UK The period between entry clearance being issued and the applicant entering the UK may be counted toward the qualifying period. Any absences between the date of issue and entry to the UK are considered an allowable absence. This period will count towards the 180 days allowable absence in the continuous 12 month period. The applicant does not need to provide evidence to demonstrate the reason for delayed entry. If the delay is more than 180 days, you can only include time after the applicant entered the UK in the continuous period calculation."

  • Nice find. Could you post a link? – ouflak Feb 2 '18 at 10:16

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