I have been living in the UK for more than 10 years and received permanent residence in 2009. Since 2015, I have traveled between the UK and my country of origin and, most of the time, I've been living there instead of in the UK.

One week ago, I re-entered the UK so that I could return to my home country and bring my child with me. Since I only planned to stay in my UK house for one week, I filled in the landing card showing a one-week stay in the UK.

At Heathrow Airport passport control, the officer and I had a conversation as follows:

Officer: "So you back to the UK?"
Me: "Yes."
Officer: "Where did you fly from?"
Me: (I told him from where.)
Officer: "When did you leave the UK last time?"
Me: "In the middle of August. About 4 months ago."
Officer: "So you live in your country now?"
Me: "No. I just stay there temporarily. My family is in the UK."

Actually, I wanted to explain my situation but it seemed that the officer did not care. He then wrote some comments on the back of the landing card and stamped on it.

To my understanding, as long as I return to the UK regularly, for example, once a year, the Indefinite Leave to Remain should be valid. I checked the latest immigration rules, but that part has changed.

Now I don't know whether it's okay for me to keep returning to the UK every year. I am also quite worried about the officer's comments. Will this affect me on my next return or even my IRL? BTW, the stamp on my passport is same as before.

2 Answers 2


If you want to return after leaving the UK for more than two years, you will need a "Returning Resident Visa". There seems to be no clear rules how long you can be outside the UK in total. However, for tax purposes you are a UK resident if you are present in the country for 183 or more days in a tax year. If you are present less than that, I'd be careful.


There are a few ways that people lose ILR:

  1. Remaining out of the country for more than 2 years. In this case, ILR will automatically lapse.
  2. Declaring that you no longer live in the UK (eg: to a UKBA agent).
  3. Entering the country as a visitor - requesting a visitor's visa or entering on a temporary visa is taken to be proof that you no longer consider yourself a resident. Similarly, any granted short term visa will cause ILR to lapse. Forum post: Lost ILR due to tourist visa. This is uncommon, but still something to be careful of.

It seems likely that the way you filled in the form (specifically the fact that you were leaving so soon or said that it was a "visit") made the border agent concerned that you were in fact a visitor rather than a resident.

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