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If you came to the UK before 1 January 1973

This advice applies to England

The first thing you should do is contact your nearest Citizens Advice and arrange to speak to an adviser.

They can help you work out if you need to apply for a ‘biometric residence permit’. This is a free card that confirms your right to stay in the UK permanently.

Whether you’ll need to apply depends on things like:

  • when you arrived in the UK
  • whether you left the UK for 2 years or more
  • whether you’re from a Commonwealth country

Some Citizens Advice advisers can give immigration advice, but it depends where you live. If your nearest Citizens Advice can't give immigration advice, they might be able to help you find a local solicitor who can.

Before you see an adviser

Start getting together documents you have that prove how long you’ve been in the UK - for example proof of where you’ve lived, studied and worked. Look for any:

  • birth and marriage certificates for you and any children born in the UK
  • exam certificates
  • bills and letters
  • employment records - for example old payslips or P45 forms

The older the documents, the better. Take these along to your appointment and show them to your adviser - they’ll help you work out what to do next.

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