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We were informed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) last Thursday that it is now strictly adhering to policy as far as indefinite leave to remain absences is concerned. This means that once a migrant worker is in a position to move forward with an application for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement), and if the applicant has spent more than 180 days outside the UK during the five-year period preceding the filing of the application, regardless of whether this was for business or pleasure, the application will be referred to a senior caseworker for consideration on a discretionary basis and it could fall for refusal if the absences exceed 180 days.
If the applicant exceeds this figure, and even if the individual files the application via the Premium Service at the Public Enquiry Office Croydon (or another regional office), which processes applications within 48 hours and pays the fee for this service, the application will remain in a queue until a decision is made (it could be a number of weeks before a decision is reached).
It is difficult to tell at this stage how the UKBA's strict interpretation of policy will affect applications going forward, but we will monitor this over the coming weeks and provide a further update in the New Year. If you have any concerns in relation to the above please contact Nicolas Rollason, Head of Immigration.
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