By George Tizirai-Chapwanya 
Solicitor at CB Solicitors 
It has been a long wait for most applicants as the successor to the 14 years rule still remains a mere mirage. Most applicants would be familiar with the 14 years long residence rule that allowed persons who had spent a mixed lawful and unlawful stay in the UK aggregating to 14 years to apply for leave to remain on that basis. When this rule was replaced by the 20 years rule it literally amounted to the pulling of the carpet under the feet of most would be applicants. 
What came was the 20 years long residence rule under paragraph 276ADE (1) (iii) that allows a person who has lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years (discounting any period of imprisonment), to apply for leave to remain on this basis. 
So how does this work in practical terms? For example, if we take October 2019 as the date of application this would mean that one must have been in the United Kingdom as at September 1999. Further that person must have resided in the UK continuously since that date. Of significance is that any period one would have spent in prison is discounted from the 20 years tally. In other words a period of imprisonment interrupts the 20 years stay rule. 
What therefore must applicants consider before making an application for leave to remain under this paragraph? An applicant would need to place himself/herself 20 years before the date of application in the UK. There is need therefore for evidence to show that, either through a stamped passport, evidence of an applications made to the Home Office, Colleges enrolled, medical appointments, HMRC documentation, tenancy agreement, bank records etc., etc. How many of the potential applicants would be able to acquit themselves by producing any of this evidence? 
Then one has to go on to show that he/she has lived in the UK continuously since 20 years back. How does one satisfy this? It is suggested a paper trail showing what one has been up to over the years would be helpful. It is not enough just to say I have been in the UK continuously, as one is expected to produce some form of evidence of actually being in the UK over the years in order for the application to be given weight upon consideration by the Home Office. It is suggested that if one has no leave to remain yet in the UK one needs to keep all the paper trail one has. This could be handy in order to show that you have been in the UK over the years. Of course if an applicant has breached the law by illegally working when he had no permission to do so one may be tempted to hide this part of one’s immigration history. However it is arguable that this could be a double edged sword; because whilst it shows that you disregarded the laws of the UK it could also show that you have been in the UK at the relevant time. As always one needs to plead ones’ case with the Secretary of State and try to be as honest as possible as discretion may be exercised in one’s favour. 
The interruption of 20 years by a period of imprisonments is a real heartache as it wipes all the credit and one has to deal with the gap that is created. Say at 12 years you were imprisoned for 2 years it means you now going back to 10 years and start from there counting towards the 20 years. This only goes to show the importance of respecting the laws of the host country and hopefully would persuade applicants to avoid acts of criminality. In any case the consequences of criminality are often to ghastly to contemplate as invariably they lead to convictions, immigration detention deportation as a foreign criminal. 
We will therefore be in a position to take applicants through this 20 years long residence application process so that they can avoid these potential pitfalls. 
George Tizirai-Chapwanya, BL (Hons) LLB LLM is a Solicitor with CB Solicitors. He can be contacted on; or visit CB Solicitors’ website at; Mobile: 07950529478 
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information on immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a Solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of use of this information. 
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