How An Illegal Migrant Can Become Legal

How An Illegal Migrant Can Become Legal

• The big question here is whether an illegal migrant can change status and become a legal migrant?

• Illegal migrants are vulnerable, susceptible and exploitable. It’s important to determine if there is a legal channel to become a legal migrant and the steps to follow to become one.

• Can An Illegal Migrant Become A Legal Migrant?

Yes, but this is subject to a few considerations.

• How Can An Illegal Migrant Become A Legal Migrant?

An illegal immigrant may rectify his or her status and become a legal migrant through any of the following means.

• An illegal immigrant may become a legal migrant on the basis of ‘asylum or humanitarian protection’. Here, he or she contacts the Home Office of the UK who reviews this reason and makes a decision, typically within a year. Where successful, the illegal migrants changes status.

• The 20 year- rule. Here, an illegal immigrant who shows proof of residence in UK for twenty years, even if unlawful can apply for discretionary limited leave to remain in UK which is usually subsequently followed by an application for indefinite leave to remain in UK(PR).

• The third route to change in legal status is the ‘Partner Route’. Here, an illegal immigrant may enter into a relationship with a lawful resident and apply for regularization on human rights basis, such as family life.

• Importantly, where children are born in the course of such relationships, and they are British citizens by virtue of the partners or where they are also illegal immigrants but up to seven years. An application may also be made to the UK Home Office for regularization.

• Here, a discretionary leave to remain may be granted for two and half years subject to renewals.

• What If My Application Is Refused?

• Where application is refused, an appeal may be made by the illegal migrant to argue his or her case a second time before an immigration judge. 


1 Gulbenkian Andonian, “How Can an illegal Immigrant become Legal in the UK?” available at, accessed on Feb 9 2023

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