Absences during your qualifying residence period for citizenship

The Home Office provides clear information about allowed absences during your qualifying residence period for citizenship. These restrictions are different from the residential requirements for ILR.

Normal residential requirements

The assessment of absences for nationality applications is different as they must not exceed 450 days during the qualifying period or 90 days in the final year of that period.
Lengthy absences taken during the continuous period for ILR can impact on your ability to meet the residency requirements for nationality.

However, as detailed below some consideration may be given in particular cases.

Spouses and partners

In order to demonstrate the residential requirements for naturalisation you need to:

  • have been resident in the United Kingdom for at least three years (this is known as the residential qualifying period); and
  • have been present in the United Kingdom three years before the date of your application; and
  • have not spent more than 270 days outside the United Kingdom during the three-year period; and
  • have not spend more than 90 days outside the United Kingdom in the last 12 months of the three-year period; and
  • have not been in breach of the immigration rules at any stage during the three-year period.

Discretion and total absences

You can find the latest guidance on discretion on absences from the UK during the residential qualifying period page 7 of Booklet AN.

The Home Office advise that they ‘normally disregard’ absences of up to 300 days. If your absences total between 301 and 540 days then they will be disregarded if you meet all other requirements and have established your family, home and estate in the UK.

Other expectations include that:

  • you have completed four years residence for absences up to 450 days; or
  • you have completed five years residence for absences between 451 and 540 days; or
  • you were absent because you were serving abroad in Crown service or because your husband, wife or civil partner was serving abroad in Crown or designated service; or
  • your absences were unavoidable owing to the nature of your work - for example, because you are a merchant seaman or you work for a UK-based business which requires frequent travel abroad; or
  • there are exceptional or compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature, such as having a firm job offer for which British citizenship is a genuine requirement

Discretion and absences in the final year

The Home Office advise that they will ‘normally disregard’ absences of up to 100 days during the final 12 months of the qualifying residence period.

If your absences in the last year total between 101 and 180 days, and you have met all other residence requirements, then they will ‘normally disregard’ the absence if you have also established your home, family and a large part of your estate here.

If your absences in the last year total between 101 and 180 days, and you have not met all other residence requirements, then they will ‘normally disregard’ the absence if:

  • you have also established your home, family and a large part of your estate here, and
  • the absence occurred because you were serving abroad in Crown service, or for a compelling occupational or compassionate reason
If you absences total over 180 days in the final year they will only disregard the absence if:
  • you have met the residence requirements over the qualifying period; and
  • you have demonstrated a link with the UK by establishing your home, family and a large part of your estate here; and
  • The absence occurred because you were serving abroad in Crown service, or for a compelling occupational or compassionate reason

If your absence lasted more than 180 days and you have not met the residence requirements then your application will only be considered in the most exceptional of circumstances.

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