US citizen who grew up in the UK - any help gratefully received!

  • Hello everyone,

    I was born in the USA in 1980, and my mother married a British man in 1989. We moved to the UK in 1990, where I continued school.

    I then studied at university and went on to work in London for 15 years.

    I was never advised to adjust my status, and I kept my Indefinite Leave to Remain stamp in my passport. I have a National Insurance Number and all relevant UK documents (including a driving license). The only thing I do not have is a Passport.

    I have been living in New York for the past few years, and would like to make sure I am in the best position possible moving forward.

    Can anyone advise me on what my best next step might be?

    As you can see I chalked up about 24 years of constant British residency, and my cultural upbringing and all relationships are British.

    I did not expect to be in New York for so long, and so obviously now I'm a step behind in terms of being continuously in the UK for 2-5 years.

    Is there a chance that my unique circumstances growing up will be grounds for appeal? I'd like to formalise my UK status or upgrade it, as all my friends and family live there!

    Many thanks for your time,


  • Immigration Adviser

    Dear Kim @complicatedus

    If you have now been outside the UK for more than a 2 year continuous period this means that unfortunately your ILR is no longer automatically valid. Therefore you will need to apply for a Returning Resident visa

    If you have travelled to the UK on and off however over the last few years, and have not been away for more than 2 years your ILR will still be valid.

    In order to obtain a British passport, you will need to return to the UK and live here for a further 5 years - you can then apply for British Citizenship (and subsequently a British passport). During this time your UK absences must be limited to 450 days overall within the 5 year period and 90 days in the year immediately before making the Citizenship application.

    Please do let us know if you have any further queries or need assistance with a Returning Resident application.

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