Applying for leave to remain in the UK

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Aim of this information

This information is designed to help people with a criminal record who are looking to applying for leave to remain in the UK and are worried about how their criminal record might cause them problems.

Why is this important?

Many people have old and minor criminal records. All of these have to disclosed when applying for leave to remain in the UK. However, there are guidelines on how your application might be treated.

How criminal records are assessed

Applications for leave to remain are exempt from (i.e. not covered by) the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

This means that you need to declare all convictions and police cautions on your application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), even if they are spent.

Time periods

You will need to disclose your criminal record as part of your application, even if it is spent. Based on the sentences below, your application will normally be refused until:

  • Prison sentence (longer than 12 months but less than 4 years): 15 years from the end of your full sentence (including time on licence)
  • Prison sentence (up to 12 months): 7 years from the end of your full sentence (including time on licence)
  • Non-custodial sentence (including suspended sentences not activated): 2 years from the date of conviction
  • Caution: 2 years from the date of caution

How UKVI make their decisions

Declaring a caution or conviction will not necessary mean that your application will be rejected.

The Home Office has guidance on their ‘General grounds for refusal’ when considering applications for leave to remain

It’s important to recognise that failing to fully disclose your criminal record might lead to you being considered as attempting to deceive the system.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. They will normally be treated as if they happened in the UK
No. The process for applying for Citizenship is slightly different. We have separate information available about that process.

For more information

  1. Practical self-help information – More information coming to the UK can be found here.
  2. Discuss this issue – Read and share your experiences on our online forum

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