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The Telegraph reports that thousands of illegal immigrants have been granted what the paper describes as “squatters’ rights” to remain in Britain permanently after proving they have lived here for 14 years.

A little-known rule, introduced in 2003, allows illegal immigrants to claim “indefinite leave to remain” if they manage to live in Britain’s black economy for long enough or are failed asylum seekers who manage to avoid deportation.

After 14 years they can apply to the Home Office which considers factors such as “compassionate circumstances, strength of connection to the UK and previous criminal record”, before deciding whether an illegal immigrant will be allowed to stay.

If successful, the immigrant will then be allowed full access to the welfare state and be eligible to apply for a British passport.

Since rules changed in April 2003, 7,245 illegals have won the right to live here permanently – more than 1,000 a year on average. It is likely that many paid no income tax during the 14 years they spent in Britain.

The Home Office estimated in 2005 that the illegal immigrant population in Britain was between 310,000 and 570,000 but other groups such as Migrationwatch UK, which campaigns against mass immigration, have put the figure far higher.

Migrationwatch UK now believes the true number of illegal immigrants could be as high as one million.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “What disturbs me most is how many more people will be able to establish this type of squatters’ rights to stay in this country.

“Rewarding illegal behaviour is always bad, and there ought to be a lot more effort put into stopping people getting to this 14 year level.

“One of the reasons why we want to set up a specialist border police force is to prevent people being able to stay here for many years entirely below the radar.”

Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “It is wrong in principle that people who have been undercutting British workers for many years and often paying no tax should be granted full access to our welfare state.

“This is a reward for crime, provided you get away with it for long enough.”

One immigration law adviser, who declined to be named, said: “I’m surprised this rule still survives, to be honest.

“It is an anomaly when compared with the rest of the Government’s policy which purports to be getting tough with immigrants who have irregular status.”

The rules allowing illegal immigrants to claim residence after 14 years were formalised by the Home Office in 2003 but previously existed as a loose concession.

The arrangements mirror the legal status of “squatters’ rights”, formally known as adverse possession, in English and Welsh law.

These rules say that anyone who has occupied land or property for 12 years can apply to be registered as owner.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Not all applications for indefinite leave to remain through the long residence rule will be granted.

“They are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the strength of connection to the UK, previous criminal record and compassionate circumstances, and so on.”

He added that it was expected that the number of people granted indefinite leave to remain under the rule would fall as asylum claims were dealt with more quickly.

Keith Best, an immigration expert and former chairman of the Immigration Advisory Service, said:

“This is a sensible and flexible system.

“It takes account of individual circumstances, particularly when somebody may have been an overstayer in this country and has not always committed a deliberate act of trying to evade the authorities.”

The 14 years which illegal immigrants have to wait before claiming indefinite leave to remain in Britain is only four years longer than the period of time required of lawful immigrants.

Those who stay here on a visa or who are granted refugee status only have to wait 10 years before applying for the same concession, if they have been continuously resident in Britain. Source: Daily Telegraph. 

Immigration Matters Comment

The controversial rule, or ‘long stay concession’, allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence after being in the UK for 14 years, even if they have overstayed. But indefinite leave is not automatically granted when an illegal or overstaying immigrant applies to the Home Office. 

Jerry Turner,  OISC registered Level 3 Immigration Adviser and appeal specialist said: 

“In practice the Home Office try to refuse many of these applications despite meeting the spirit of them. For example in one case a man had spent the previous 7 years sleeping on a mattress on a factory floor and the Home Office refused because he could not produce his “tenancy agreement” or “bank statements.” He won on appeal.

“Requirements concerning the conduct of the applicant, such as whether or not false identities have been used, are strictly applied. There is a strong humanitarian case for regularising the stay of people who have been here for over 14 years. Many such people would have strong Human Rights grounds if removal or deportation were attempted. As with many instances of what the politicians perceive as problems needing harsh measures, the circumstances whereby people have been able to remain in the UK for so long unlawfully have arisen because of the gross inefficiencies of both conservative and labour governments. It should not be forgotten that under Michael Howard’s watch immigration staff at the Home Office were reduced whilst the backlog in dealing with asylum cases rose to many years.

“There have been several exercises which have been amnesties in all but name such as the scheme for regularisation of overstayers, the legacy programme on one little known one when only one in ten applications was subjected to much scrutiny. This resulted in identical cases being dealt with in different ways. One which was not subject to scrutiny was allowed and the other which was examined was not allowed. Poor training of staff and a lack of specialisation has resulted in many poor decisions which have in turn placed much pressure on the appeals system. There are many people in the UK illegally because they cannot meet the strict requirements of the immigration rules, but nevertheless have strong humanitarian and human rights grounds to stay. If such people make applications to the Home Office which are refused they have no right of appeal unless removal directions are issued. When refusing applications the Home Office frequently do not issue removal directions, no doubt in order to avoid such people appealing and winning. People are then left in limbo with enormous difficulties in obtaining the bare essentials for living.”

See also:

Do you know how to queue for a British passport?

New regulations for charging for immigration and nationality services

UK Border Agency response on ‘migrant detainees’

UK Border Agency launch free news service for employers recruiting overseas workers

The UK Border Agency has launched a free news feed for employers recruiting or already employing non-EU workers.

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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Posted on Feb 22, 2010 - Last updated on Feb 22, 2010

38 Responses to “Thousands of illegal immigrants win right to stay in Britain under 14 year rule”
Read them below or add one

  1. scola@yahoo.co.uk' scola@yahoo.co.uk'Scola says:

    l am an overstayer been here 11 years now had serious health issues but l am ok now. l once paid tax but when my visa expired l couldnt get official work anymore. l work illegal the jobs are not consistent l have debts. I cant afford solicitors have tried a few times, what will happen if l apply direct to immigration. l am professional person but am now doing odd jobs and sometimes treated badly.

  2. Nil_isnani@yahoo.co.uk' Nil_isnani@yahoo.co.uk'Nilda isnani says:

    I have a co worker who has a cousin who has been staying here for more than 10 years now. He enter in UK as a visitor but got married before his visa expires. The problem, when they went to see a solicitor to apply for a spouse visa.his visa was already 2 weeks expired. He was then advised to come back to this solicitor after 2 years. However, as months and years passed by the wife has changed. Makes little things as big issues, bacame rude and hot tempered. Oftentimes boasting that she is not going to help him process his papers and worst she tells her friends about his status and boasting that he can’t argue back when they have a row because she frightened her to report him if he does. The poor husband since he loves his wife very much,and being helpless, painstakingly and humbly took everything patiently and until now still living with the wife. They made several attempts to process his papers but every time they have argument the wife pulls his application

  3. It is possible. Depends under which category you are applying.

  4. albertomartinez@talktalk.net' albertomartinez@talktalk.net'Alberto Martinez says:

    Do I qualify for a British pasport even thoug I haven’t paid any taxes?

  5. amalyousra@hotmail.co.uk' amalyousra@hotmail.co.uk'mayou says:

    I AM MOROCCAN WOMAN , YOU CAN CONTACT A FAMILY SOLICITOR OR LEGAL ADVICE YOU’LL CAN FIND OUT A SOLUTION. GOOD LUCK! ME TOO I HAVE A FAMILY PROBLEM AND MY CASE STILL AT COURT !

  6. sulimane@hotmail.co.uk' sulimane@hotmail.co.uk'nabil says:

    my kid she english i live in uk 11 year they want send back to morocco my ex wife go dublin i want see my kid i don t now what to do can u hlope me plz my kid she 5 year old

  7. sulimane@hotmail.co.uk' sulimane@hotmail.co.uk'adam says:

    i will never give up for my kid they want send me back and i come in uk when i was 17 year old boy i am 29 year old man i am keep fighing and i will keep fight english go every where and live where why playin mind game with i will win trust me god willing

  8. vivemaroc@hotmail.co.uk' vivemaroc@hotmail.co.uk'mayou says:

    please i need advise ! my daughter aged11 years but she came with my ex husband , he’s a british but daughter has an indefinite visa .i came here 22 months ago i had 6 months visa then i found my self overstayed due to plan realized by my ex husband so i did application form for staying in the uk with may daughter ,she’s recentely living with me in temporary accomodation ! my life is hard i feel my self in prison as well !!! somebody advice me , can i get the visa ?

  9. zzrrttpk@yahoo.ca' zzrrttpk@yahoo.ca'zulfi says:

    a human being with out compassion is not a human being
    no matter how white or black he or she is how much eduction heor she has had or how civil he or she calls himself
    that why nazis are condemned they lack this human faculty in them

  10. mrsya@hotmail.com' mrsya@hotmail.com'srinu says:

    it’s interesting for people who had their passport and visa stolen.

  11. deborlly@gmail.com' deborlly@gmail.com'Deborah says:

    A friend of mine is an overstayer in England. He has been here for ten years now, however he has worked in jobs that were exploiting him with paying a small wage. He is the most pleasant person anyone could meet. His mother and siblings reside here in England. When he was born England ruled JAMAICA. He has a British Birth Certificate. He put in an application to the home office for leave to remain and now the immigration have detained him and not given proper explanation for holding him! What can he do? all of the solicitors are expensive. someone please direct me to a source of help and advice. Thank you

  12. hazel2226@msn.com' hazel2226@msn.com'D Hazel says:

    All the asylum seekers, we dont care, your not our problem, most are taking the rise out of us brits, go home. You think you suffer well so do we but in a different way, we brits are being mentally and emotionally destroyed, you all play on us brits being soft, our own dont matter, so why should you?????????????

  13. hazel2226@msn.com' hazel2226@msn.com'D Hazel says:

    Does it really matter what us brits say, this goverment does what it wants, it changes the law to suit and does not listen to the paupers of this country. This goverment and its laws are and will always be out for themselves. I am 47 and english through and through i have watched the changes and been a victim of this messed up society, i have had more than my fair share of prejudiced grief from this stupid thick goverment who have not experienced the poverty trap of life at all, who are they to let foreigners into my country who are allowed to make money, cheat us out of our nhs and start businesses that the english would not be allowed to do, mmmmmm the polish come to mind, who seem to be more racialist than any brits and yet they are allowed to come into britain in their hordes and claim my families inheritance through benefits and our nhs, its DISGUSTING, my dad worked all his life for nothing and so did the rest of my ENGLISH family. This goverment is and will always be a joke.

  14. You might be able to stay under the 14 year rule – long stay concession. Suggest you take advice from a qualified level 2/3 immigration adviser. Bison UK has advised on these cases before. Call them for a consultation to discuss your case in detail. 0208 905 1822.

  15. merando_77@hotmail.com' merando_77@hotmail.com'meran ali says:

    i live in uk for 14 yers and im from iraq i have no any stay and im asaylm sekerr waht can i do for get my peper

  16. bolasherry@yahoo.com' bolasherry@yahoo.com'sherry says:

    how do u expect people to live in uk for 14yrs before applying for leave to remain when u have child that s 8 or 10.the government needs to help the parent to get their right facts bcos we dnt knw what the children will become in d next future.instead of sending them back bcs they are overstayer in d uk.we all here for a better life bcs how country is full of atrocity.if ur child was born here i think u ve right,u r illegal how can u work bcs if u are caught working u r in trouble.pls government help d illegal to better the children life bcs they cnt work.pls help those wit children born in uk.

  17. sulimane@hotmail.co.uk' sulimane@hotmail.co.uk'oil man 2001 says:

    Culd war with Immigration but Immigration its not to me thx to Godddddddddd open door for ever body god wiling

  18. sulimane@hotmail.co.uk' sulimane@hotmail.co.uk'oil man 2001 says:

    why we have wait for 14 year i been in uk 11 year i never get any nothging i have 1 kid bron in uk and i am not with her mum any more i send lettr to immigration to stay in uk they brin this brin this thy ask me for samething to neve get to mind game makeing crazy i miss my family and i feel can t go no where don t want live my kid and go way for ever i am stay in uk for 11 year i come when i was 17 year old boy

  19. sherry-leigh_tirrell@hotmail.co.uk' sherry-leigh_tirrell@hotmail.co.uk'laylanah says:

    Unfortunatly for myself i was born in Zimbabwe and so were my parents, but my grandparents are British. In 1991 my mother brought me to the UK and the British government in 1998 put me on a British passport. So as far as i knew i was British. I had my house, i worked (paid tax and NI) and had a bank account with a loan, everything only a British person could get, i even claimed benefits. I was then told 9 months ago the government messed up and i now have to pay for thier mistake. This rule is the only thing i have to stay here where my whole life is. The funny thing is they dont want to deport me but im supposed to survive and raise the funds for ILR without being able to work.

  20. mknkhan@gmil.com' mknkhan@gmil.com'MK.K.N.Khan says:

    Mr.D. Green,

    There are thousands of peoples are suffering to get BOC status on the grouds of their father’s British Documents, who are holded Britsh Nationality Registratonan nd British passport. But the illegal immigrants are awarded British Nationality at what grounds? Can you explain or can you go to court to stop this nonsence of UK Government atitude? Will you submit a white paper report in the UK Parliament.

  21. roses1875@gmail.com' roses1875@gmail.com'anita smith says:

    hi i think it is totally wrong to allow people to get ilr in this country after 14 yrs coz so many people just find dodgy way to overstay in this country and get indefinite at the end. i know people who have made baby with woman just to show that they r into a long term relationship and they should b allowed to stay if that is the case why dont they take their so called girlfriend and kid and go and stay in their country while the woman is just investing in the baby and making money and the man is paying to get some fake statement from the woman and win his case and ilr .

  22. fazlul_azim@hotmail.com' fazlul_azim@hotmail.com'Fazlu says:

    I thing 14 years is very long time. So, 7/8 years is enough for this rule.

  23. mannboy33@yahoo.com' mannboy33@yahoo.com'dave singh says:

    end of the day everyone is making money ,lawyers are making big money from all these applications,home office makes money,emplkoyers paying small wages and take advantage of immigrants.
    this is a big revenue to the country…
    no one cares how the illegal pple are being exploited here..they dont ask for benefits they just want rights to work and have a freedom ..thats all..same time they can contribute to the country …

  24. thousandmail@gmail.com' thousandmail@gmail.com'Nadeem Ahmed Khan says:

    My dear there is a very limited number of peoples those who were stay for 14 years in UK or more which is not more than 1 or 2% percent of the total illegals in UK so don’t get HEATER in this matter these peoples are innocent as most of them came from their countries on which United Kingdom has been Ruled in Past UK has their Government in that countries so they have some connection with UK as my grand parents born in India at the time of British Government ruling in India, the thing is now days UKBA issuing lot of Visas with heavy FEES it looks like they are sale their VISAS on heavy fees price thats why UK have Illegal immigrants problem. don’t point out the illegals, point out their policy and Ministry of foreign affairs of UK. Hope you understand you better.

  25. emaratiyah@w.cn' emaratiyah@w.cn'laila says:

    i think its not fair at all, those pepole are human they left their own countires for some reason,14 years is really long period of time which means they have to suffer here too to get a decent life.why dont we put ourselves on thier place and think how we will survive if we make family kids here and then we have to wait 14 years to make our life bit easy?!

  26. bjiani@yahoo.co.uk' bjiani@yahoo.co.uk'jiani says:

    Thank you very much for the concise dtails and effort you make ion enabling people to understand the myriad of rules made for immigrants here in uk. Everyone ought to know how very easy life is made for English people in poor countries all over the world as a result of the convoluted commonwealth parnership which clearly favours only European parners. Its a ashame when such people enjoy such status abroad and then return the favour with people with great disdain.

  27. IRODO200131@YAHOO.COM' IRODO200131@YAHOO.COM'JOHN says:

    I AGREE WITH YOU,WE HAVE TO LOOK IN THE PAST GENERATION BRITISH ENTER OTHER COUNTRY THROUGH WATER,LAND AND AIR,ABIDE THERE COLONISED AND EXPLOIT THEM,BUT NOW THEY REGULARISE AND CALLED IT ILLEGAL,PEOPLE HERE FOR LONG SHOULD BE CONCIDER AND HAVE A RIGHT TO WORK AND CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIENTY RATHER THAN WASTE A LOT OF MONEY FOR THEIR DEPORTATION WHICH WILL NOT HELP THE ECONOMY.OR LEAVING THEM SOFFER AND TAKE THE JOB UNLAWFULLY,GIVE UNABIDE LAW PEOPLE TO BE RICH BY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEM FOR CHEAP LABOUR.HONSTLY WE NEED TO CONCIDER WHAT CLEG SAID ONCE AND FOR ALL AND LET STOP SAY SOMETHING ON WHAT WE CAN SOT OUT WITH ANY LOSS

  28. petro@yahoo.co.uk' petro@yahoo.co.uk'Misko says:

    I just wander, how British troops got their visas to Iraq, Afghanistan, and many years ago to the places that later became colonies of British empire??? Did they apply for visas? Did they break any immigration law??

  29. mycanal@hotmail.com' mycanal@hotmail.com'mark says:

    14 years is a very long time. specaily for someone who is illegal here. how much hardship one has to endure during 14 years of adult life, just to get ILR.
    for anyone who think it is easy and shortcut, then i welcome them to try it on. without id, without visa, without credit card, without proper job , how easily once can survive.
    and what is the quality of life of such person living,who are not eligible for legal job or any benefits or housing or child support or working tax credit. it is all myth tht such people enjoy benefits etc. most of these people canot ear more then £2 per hour. who among the critices wish to live on such low wage and even that wage is for if somone hire u with 10k fine rish .
    it is easy to critice on ppl who got ilr after 14 years.

  30. ddor969@hotmail.com' ddor969@hotmail.com'maxine says:

    I agree for the gov to give amnesty to all those people who are here for over 5yrs give them a chance to work pay tax and contribute to the ecomony,they are all humans,thousnds here cant even see their children they left behind for yrs,god will bless you when you help someone in need of help,take them out of the darkness and into the light,god made us all,to live in this world he did not say u cant live here there or anywhere,please give them a chance,to sleep,to eat,to enjoy life like god made us to be. god bless u all. hope the gov see this message and do the right thing, god loves us all.

  31. james2004@yahoo.co.uk' james2004@yahoo.co.uk'james says:

    I am sorry, i do not agree with you because there are so many people living in the uk, who came here legally, but due to circumstances their visa expired, however such people are skilled, working to add to the economy, not claimimn benefits and volunteering to help the community as well.
    I feel suh people especially with children born here having stayed for five years and contributing to the economy without any public funds should be allowed to stay especially with their skills, no criminal record and contributions to the economy
    Thanks

  32. Irinaastley@blueyonder.co.uk' Irinaastley@blueyonder.co.uk'Irina Astley says:

    This is a direct encouragement for the smugglers , illeagl colleges , agencies etc to give an incentive to their ” clients ” giving them a guidelines how to break the Immigration Law in the UK :

    ” If you manage to escape for 14 years you will become a British Citizen ” .

    It looks like UKBA closes one door and open another one, what is the point of it ?

  33. littleman8080@yahoo.gr' littleman8080@yahoo.gr'littleman says:

    Hey guys!!!!!…

    Don’t you know that Greece, is a step further than you?.. Greece has already made legal more than 500.000 illegal immigrands.. and now Greek goverment plans to give FULLY political rights (nationality – not citizenship) to all those “legalized” immigrands and make them EU-citizens… This means that they all will have the right, to leave this “economically destroyed” country and come to you, as EU-citizens and not immigrands!

    Greece – via the political aid of it’s traitors politics -, opens the door of all the Asian world, to enter the EU and thus your country too, as citizens with the same rights with you! Thus, why you worry so much about it?

    It’s a plan for dominating EUROPE!… (by Americans I guess!)

    Pass or not pass, this rule for you, in 14 years, I am sure you will have at least 300.000 “europealized” asian citizens from here… You and the most wealthy countries of EU of course!.. In 34 years, I guess that with those high fertility asian rates you will end too!…

    The plan of the new world order procceeds normaly!… Help us to stop it!

    We have to gather 1.000.000 signatures, in all over the europe, in order all countries to set the same rules for those specific subjects of immigration and citizen/political rights (Lisabona treaty(?)). If we don’t stand up together against the traitors of the EU and our countries (new world order), we will fall apart one by one!!!!

    We have pass the 300.000 signatures! Help us…. to save yourselves!….

    For more info, contact with Greek Political party: LA.O.S., and if you can translate Greeks, take a look from the Start of this blog: http://dhmopshfisma.blogspot.com/

    A blog that more than 300 bloggers support, beeing NEGATIVE to the new law that will destroy Greece and EU for ever, and that goverment seems to harry up to pass it, after the “legalizations”!…..

    Have a nice day…!

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