My ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) / Permanent Residence in UK experience

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Entry date in UK - 28-MAY-2012
ILR application appointment - 24-AUG-2012
Appointment PEO (Public Enquiry Office) - Croydon

Total absences / days out of UK - 175
Total consecutive absences / days out of UK - 120

Documents list

Last 12 months personal bank statements [highlight salary and dividend deposits using marker]
Last 12 months business bank statements [highlight salary, dividend, NI, VAT, personal tax etc transfers using marker]
Last 12 months pay slips
Last 12 months invoices
Last 12 months dividend vouchers
Private Limited company certificate
Passport
Biometric card (Tier 1 general Extension)
Life In the UK Test passing certificate (Mine and Wife's)
Welcome letter from HMRC when I registered as self employed
Full contact details of all the parties involved
Original post graduation degree certificate, final mark sheet, passing certificate
Last 5 years P60s and P45s
Marriage certificate
2 Photos each of me and my wife with name written on the back side of the photos
Letter from ex-employer
Letter from current agent
Letter from accountant
Tier 1 general Points based calculator sheet
Wife's bank statements (It contained house address. I thought it would be useful as a proof of cohabitation)
Water bill
Council tax
Rental agreement of current and previous address (we moved out of the old address recently)

Problem - Continuous absence out of UK



I was very tensed about my 120 days absences. The absences were from 2nd May 2009 until 28th Aug 2009. The reason being, my previous company had sent me back  to India after my work permit expired.
After reaching India I resigned after 2 months. I should have resigned as soon as possible. But I was a bit hesitant in leaving my job. It was a very good  multinational company and I had spent 4 years in it.
I was worried about this gap in continuous residence. According to my understanding, according to UKBA, one has can be out of the country for a continues  period or more than 90 days or more than 180 days in total only under the following conditions:

1. He / She has was sent out of UK on business trips. During their stay outside the UK, they should be paid in the UK and hence should pay taxes in UK.
2. They can be out of UK under compassionate grounds. For example, if one is very ill or has gone to see his/her very ill parent who has no one else to look  after etc.

One has to present very solid evidence to prove the above.
In my case, I did not break the 180 day rule. However I had broken the 90 day rule. Out of the 4 months I was in India continuously, the last 2 months went  in serving the notice period. I mentioned about all the absences and the reasons in brief in my cover letter.

I was still in dilemma about the following before applying for ILR:

1. Should I go in person paying the premium fee of £2066 (for me and my wife)
Or
2. Should I post my application. This would have taken about 4 to 6 months according to a very popular online UK visa forum.
Or
3. Should I go for another Tier 1 extension and apply somewhere after August 2014 after completing my 5 years starting from 29th August 2009.

Now, according to the official UKBA website, it is recommended that it is best to post your application if it has complications like breach of the 90 day  rule or the 180 day rule etc. Moreover, I found out that a person who was a member of a very popular online UK visa forum, had collected some statistics from  other members of the same forum who had applied for ILR. According to those statistics, almost all the people who had applied visa post were granted ILR  successfully ! But the problem was that I had collected all the documents and all the paperwork was ready. Moreover one of my friends suggested me that if I  go in person, the UKBA caseworker will not reject my case then and there. He will ask for further evidence. So, I finally decided to go in person.

How I booked my PEO appointment

I had heard that it was very hard to get appointments for ILR interviews. I initially tried to go to the official website to book the appointments -  http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/applyinginperson/book-appointment/. I couldn’t find a single appointment in any locations close to London.  I tried in Croydon, Birmingham, Sheffield etc. So, I googled about how to get a same day appointment for Permanent Residence interview. I saw some one on a  very good forum reply to a query similar to mine. He said that one needs to book appointments after midnight. So, I tried doing it the same day. I started at  00:00 on some day and I think after about 20 minutes got an appointment in Croydon. This appointment was after 10 days. However I didn't seem to have all the  supporting documentation along with me hence I had to reject it with a heavy heart. I remember me being in the afternoon shift and that I reached home at  around 23:30 and went to bed by around 2:00 AM. I was watching a movie that day and while watching it I applied for appointments as and when I remembered  about the appointment while watching the movie. Finally at about 2:00, I got an appointment in Croydon which was after about a month, which I thought was  enough to collect all the documents, letters etc. So, I quickly booked it. I guess you are give a shot time within which you need to book the appointment. As  far as I remember it didn't cost me anything. As soon as I booked the appointment, I received a confirmation email from UKBA mentioning all the details  including the checklist about what I had to get on the day of my appointment.

 

Appointment day



My appointment was on 24th August. Finally after making up my mind that I need to go for the same day appointment and not apply by the postal method, I went  with my wife on 24th. I received a reminder text message (SMS) from UKBA about the appointment. Our appointment was at 09:40 AM and my wife drove us to the  Croydon office. She parked in an NCP parking which was diagonally across the road in front of the Croydon PEO. Since we arrived there a bit early, we went to  the shopping mall across the road and had coffee and carrot cake and packed some stuff from M&S. We must have arrived at the office exactly at 09:40 or just  a few minutes early or late. I showed the printout of the confirmation email from UKBA to the security guy at the entrance of Lunar House building. He asked  us to wait in a queue. After about 5 minutes we were let in the next room where airport style security checking was going on. After the security check, we  were asked to go in a hall which had a few counters and we waited in a queue to be served. When our turn came, we were asked to go to a counter, on the other  side of which was a Caucasian lady. She asked the application form and passport. As soon as she came across the page where I had mentioned about the reasons  of me being out of the UK for more than 90 days, she told me that your application will not be considered today. Then she asked if I had the supporting  documents like bank statements etc. I said, "Yes.". She nodded and reconfirmed that my application will not be considered today as I was out of the country  for more than 90 days and they would require time to investigate. I don't quite remember but I think she stamped on some page of the application. Things were  happening quickly because of which the properly arranged documents in the file were getting deranged. This caused a small problem. When I was asked to join a  queue to make a payment, and when it was our turn, the lady at the counter asked the page of the form which had the card details. I initially gave her the  incorrect page and then gave the correct one. But then she asked my debit card which I didn't expect as she already had the details. Perhaps and most  probably she wanted to confirm my card details. Due to the derangement, the card got misplaced and it took me about 2-3 minutes to find it. It was a bit  embarrassing and since the beginning I didn't want anything to go wrong. Well, it wasn't a big problem. But I wanted to make a good impression about myself.  I guess, in the end it didn't matter as the caseworker was someone else and not the lady that took my card details (obviously). After making the payment we  were handed over the receipt and a token number. I think the token number was 52. We were asked to go upstairs and wait in a big hall. There were many rows  of benches and many counters. After a bit of waiting out number was called and the lady on the other side of the window, who looked south Asian, took all our  details. She was calm and composed and didn't show any expressions while asking us our details. She asked us some basic questions and asked us some basic  documents. She was writing / typing the details and storing them. After that she asked us to wait in the same hall and told us that we will be called again  for biometrics. After a while, our token number was called and we were asked to go to a counter which was at the far end of the hall. There was a set of  about 3 to 4 counters specially organized only for the biometric checks. This time it was a black lady. The thing is that when we were waiting to be called,  this lady was calling out a token number and the person who had the token was not turning up. After announcing the token number for about three times, she  came out of the biometric area and shouted and called out for that token again which was quite funny. I could see many people giggling in the hall. However,  I understand that it must have been quite frustrating for her. She was quite nice to us. First she asked me to fill a small form where I had to input some  basic details including details which mentioned if I had taken a biometric check previously, if so when, where and for what visa etc.. After filling up the  form, she asked me to press my fingers of right and left hand on a device and took my face picture asking me to keep a face with neutral expressions. After  she took my details, she asked my wife to do the same things. She then asked us to wait in the same hall and to be called. After a while we were called to a  counter where the final `interview` was going to take place. It was an aged Caucasian lady who seemed to be a British. She seemed to be in a hurry and asked  me to quickly give her all that I wanted to give. I was a bit confused for a few seconds as I read in some forums that I need to submit various documents one  by one and that I would be having an interview sort of thing. But here the case was different. I submitted the passports, biometric cards which were in my  hands at that time and the file which I had prepared to submit. My friend suggested me to keep a main file which contain all the documents that I wanted to  submit and another which contained extra documents which they might ask. For example, the main file contained documents like last 12 month's pay slips and  bank statements, last 5 years P60/45s etc. The other file contained documents like bank statements, pay slips older than last 12 months, old tenancy  agreements etc. I did not submit the extra file and forgot to submit the photocopy folder which was a duplicate of the main file. She quickly took everything  and told us that she will check all the documents and update us in about 2 to 3 hours. In the meanwhile, she suggested us to go out and eat something or wait  in the hall. We decided to go out. Since we had already been to the shopping mall, we walked to the nearby high street. All the while I was telling my wife  that we will be in trouble because of the 90 days. She said, just don't think negative and to think positively. We ate at a local Indian restaurant and  returned to hall in the PEO. After a long wait of about 3 or 3.5 hours, I could see the lady open the curtains behind the counter and call us. When we  arrived at the counter, she apologized to us to keep us waiting and then handed us a letter and told us that she had to refer the case to a senior case  worker and that they decided that further evidence / documents will be required from my side. Though they had not rejected my case, I was quite dejected. In  the letter they mentioned 2 points. The first was regarding my absence of 90 continues days from the UK. The questions they asked, the answers of which they  expected my previous employer to give were : Why did my previous company sent me to India ? What took me so much time to come back ? Could this time have  been reduced ? If so how ? If not, why not ? What would the impact on the company be if they had not sent me to India ? The second was regarding evidence of  cohabitation in the last to last year.


Further evidence required by UKBA

I had plenty of evidence to show continues cohabitation. For example, TV licensing bill, NHS card, bank statements etc. The problem, however, remained  providing documents related to the 90 days absence out of the UK. I had foreseen these questions about 1.5 months before applying and hence had initiated an  email asking my previous employer about all these details in a letter. They refused providing such information. They said that all they could provide was a  letter mentioning my start and end date in the UK. I told them to put all the true facts about me but they replied back saying the same thing that they won't  be able to provide a detailed email. I didn't have a choice but to agree to them and requested them to send the standard letter to me. After chasing them  every alternate day and then eventually escalating the issue to a senior HR manager, finally the concerned HR replied to my email saying that he dispatched  the letter about 5 days before my appointment. The letter didn't arrive at all and hence a day before my appointment I asked them to send me a scanned copy  of the letter. Initially, they didn't agree to this mentioning that they had already mailed me the letter. The thing is that they wasted about a month and  send the letter at the last moment. In the end they sent me a scanned copy. I took a printout of it on the day of my appointment. But I guess the letter  didn't suffice and hence the following further questions were asked by UKBA: The first was regarding my absence of 90 continues days from the UK. The  questions they asked, the answers of which they expected my previous employer to give were : Why did my previous company sent me to India ? What took me so  much time to come back ? Could this time have been reduced ? If so how ? If not, why not ? What would the impact on the company be if they had not sent me to  India ? The second was regarding evidence of cohabitation in the last to last year.

So, once again I approached my previous Employer asking him, very urgently, to provide the answers to the UKBA questions and I also told them that they had  provided a letter will specific details to an ex colleague of mine and hence they can provide it to me as well. I wrote a little long email hoping they would  help me but I got a 1 liner saying they can't do it. I was very disappointed with my previous Employer's HR. They might be a renowned company but are not  very helpful in such situations. This letter was very important because it would have the evidence of my trip to India. I've read in many forums that  in such cases it is very important to get a strong letter from the company mentioning all the details about the business trip.
Now since I didn't get a letter explaining my situation from my previous Employer , I decided not to give up but write a strong covering letter containing  all the true facts off course. The letter was a 3.5 page letter which included the following points:

1. Email printout of the whole e-conversation between myself and my previous Employer's HR.
2. I mentioned that I resigned from my previous company after 2 months of going back to India and had to serve a notice period of 2 months. To show this, I  provided the following documents:

a> Offer letter / Joining letter from my previous Employer. I highlighted the point where it was mentioned that a employee has to serve 2 months notice  period after sending the resignation email.
b> Highlighted text in the letter from my previous Employer titled “RELIEVING LETTER” showing the date when I submitted my resignation letter
c> Highlighted text in the letter from my previous Employer titled “SERVICE CERTIFICATE” showing date of my last working day in my previous company.

3. Supporting documents and Information for my wife’s stay with me at <Old house address> in 2010:

a> NHS registration card of wife (dependant), dated 2010
b> TV licensing bill on the name of my wife (dependant), dated 2010
c> Some bank statements of 2010 which belong to my wife (dependant).

I also mentioned in details the new roles in India and the reason why I wanted to settle down in the UK.

Granted ILR !

 

Finally after about a month of my initial appointment day, I got a call in the afternoon when I was waiting for a train to Waterloo station. I had been  waiting for calls from "private number"s. I knew it must be from UKBA and was very anxious and nervous. The lady on the phone said something which I couldn't  hear due to the train noise. I requested her to hold the line and ran to a quiet place in the station. I apologized for the wait and asked her to continue. She asked me to go to the Croydon PEO between 9 and 12 (as far as I remember) to collect my documents. I said, "That's fine but can you please let me know if it has been granted or not". To which she said, "That's what I told you a moment ago. You have been granted ILR". I was so happy and said, "That's great. Thank you very much". She said that I and my wife will not be given back our old biometric cards and that the new card will be mailed to our home address. She called me back again after a few minutes to confirm my house address.
I went there the next day and was given a ROD card which meant Return of Documents. I got the documents within about 20 minutes. The new biometric cards were delivered after about 3 weeks. There was a expiry date on the card. It was after 10 years. However, after looking up in many forums and asking friend's, I found out that this expiry date is of the card and not the visa. Its nothing but just like the expiry of a debit card.

Additional Information

Date - 15-NOV-2012 - One of my colleagues was a bit worried when I told him that one of my friend's ILR application's decision got postponed because his employer letter didn't contain an SOC code in it. My friend's solicitor didn't mention about this. So, I thought I'd let my colleague know about this fact. He researched a bit about this in some forums and found 2 examples where those got ILR approved though they did not mention the SOC code in their employer letters. So, he decided to book an premium PEO appointment in Cardiff where he thought he would be lucky enough to get the ILR granted like the above mentioned 2 guys and unlike my above mentioned friend. By the way his employer letter did not have the SOC code because according to his company he could not apply for an ILR according to the company's policy. However on the appointment day, no decision was made an he was asked to get the SOC code withing 14 days. Now he is debating with his company's HR for the SOC code in the letter. He is applying ILR via the 5 year period stay on work permit all the while.

Update about colleagues - 11-MARCH-2013 - One of my colleagues got his Tier 1 general visa extended successfully. However another colleague's PR (Permanent residency or Indefinite leave to remain) application got rejected.
He was on WP (Work Permit) for about 4 years and some months. Then his company extended his WP. He for the new WP for about 1 or 2 years. He waited for some more months to complete 5 years. However the major problem he faced was the fact that his company was not ready to mention the SOC code in the reference letter. They told that according to the company's policy, he can't apply for PR ! He provided the email print outs of the email conversations where he requested his company to provide the SOC code in the reference letter but they did not agree to. He also found some rule somewhere which said that he was eligible to apply for PR though the company's policy did not allow him to apply for PR. I guess since he had recently got his WP extended and due to the fact that it was going to expire after a year or so (which is quite a lot of time), he most probably will not be eligible to appeal against UKBA's decision in the court. Apparently, he had also applied for Tier 1 general in April 2011 which also got rejected.

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Comments

  1. (info@trips2london.com)

    Hi Gaurav, It's nice to know that your employer is ready to provide that letter. You should take full advantage of this opportunity. Most of the successful cases in your kind of situations depend on the content of the employer's letter. I remember people providing letters mentioning the following in a tabular form : Serial Number Location out of UK Purpose of visit Why were you chosen Why did that particular assignment take so much time What were your responsibilities Etc... So there I think there could be many rows in your table according to your project assignments. I am trying to tell you o provide as much relevant info as possible. It really helps and they read everything to make a decision. If you provide a strong employer letter, you need not worry :-). For every assignment out of UK answer all the questions asked in their letter. Cheers, Girish

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  2. Gaurav (g@g.com)

    Hello Girish, I am in somewhat similar boat. I have one absence of 90 day and when I went to Croydon office yesterday, they asked me for a detailed letter from the employer stating the following: 1. What would have been the impact on business had I not travelled? 2. Did I make any attempts to travel back? 3. Why was I required to travel (and not anybody else) I did read that your employer refused to give you any such detailed letter. Luckily, my ex-employer is willing to produce that letter but I have to provide the content. Do you know of anybody (while you were gathering all the information) who managed to produce all the explanations as above? I know a few folks on this forum (e.g. Jaskiratbaweja) who did get a letter from the employer but none of them broke the 90day rule. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Best, Gaurav

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  3. Urvish (urvish_1405834@yahoo.com)

    Hi, Thank you for share such great experience. I will have little bit same issue. When i will apply for ILR currently i am on Tier 1 General. I was came in UK 1 month last and my wife came 1 and half month late. I don't know what will happen. Regards, Urvish

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