People often encounter this question: what is Discretionary Leave to Remain. The DLR is a form of immigration status granted by the United Kingdom to individuals who do not qualify for refugee or asylum status but face compelling and compassionate circumstances that warrant temporary permission to stay.

Introduced as part of the broader immigration system, DLR is discretionary and provides a pathway for individuals who would otherwise be at risk if returned to their home countries.

This type of leave is typically granted on humanitarian grounds, taking into consideration factors such as medical conditions, family ties, or other compelling reasons that make it impractical or unsafe for the individual to return home.

While it does not lead to permanent settlement, discretionary leave can provide a period of stability and protection, allowing individuals to build a life in the UK without the immediate threat of deportation. The decision to grant discretionary leave is made on a case-by-case basis, with immigration authorities carefully evaluating the unique circumstances of each applicant.

What is Discretionary Leave to Remain?

When an immigrant’s situation prevents them from entering the UK through one of the current immigration channels, the legislature may nevertheless exercise its discretion and to remain. We call this kind of leave “discretionary.”

Only a limited percentage of asylum and non-asylum cases—those with extraordinary and humanitarian circumstances—are eligible for Discretionary Leave to Remain. Only Discretionary Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom is eligible for application.

This option is only available in cases where applying under the regulations governing immigration or the “Leave outside the Rules” (LOTR) is not feasible due to Article 8 considerations (i.e., the right to respect for one’s private and family life).

This indicates that an immigrant should not apply for Discretionary Leave to Remain if they are qualified for immigration under the family, personal affairs, humanitarian protection, or asylum immigration pathways.

Because most but not all cases are covered by immigration rules, the Home Office permits Discretionary Leave to Remain in certain situations. The Discretionary Leave to Remain policy seeks to permit leave in situations where it would be “unjustifiably harsh” to require a migrant living in the United Kingdom to depart or to compel their deportation.

The duration of discretionary leave can vary, but it is typically granted for a limited period, often up to 30 months. During this time, individuals are allowed to work, study, and access public services.

It’s important to note that DLR does not automatically lead to permanent settlement, but individuals may be eligible to apply for further extensions or explore alternative immigration routes. Applying for discretionary leave involves presenting a compelling case with substantial evidence supporting the reasons for seeking permission to remain.

The decision is made at the discretion of immigration authorities, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case.

Who can apply for Discretionary Leave to Remain?

Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) in the United Kingdom is typically granted to individuals who do not qualify for asylum or refugee status but can demonstrate compelling and compassionate reasons to stay temporarily in the country. Common scenarios in which individuals may be eligible to apply for discretionary leave include:

  1. Medical Reasons: Individuals facing serious health issues that would be aggravated by returning to their home country may be eligible for discretionary leave. This could include situations where necessary medical treatment is unavailable or inadequate in the individual’s country of origin.
  2. Family and Child Welfare: Cases involving strong family ties, particularly those with children who have established roots in the UK, may be considered for discretionary leave. The welfare of children is a significant factor in such applications.
  3. Humanitarian and Personal Circumstances: People who can demonstrate that returning to their home country would expose them to serious harm or danger, such as victims of human trafficking or individuals at risk of persecution, may be eligible.
  4. Long Residency: In some cases, individuals who have been living in the UK for an extended period without legal status may be granted discretionary leave, especially if they have integrated into the community.

Unusual situations

Discretionary Leave to Remain may be given under section 353b of the immigration laws in cases when deportation from the United Kingdom is not anymore practicable due to extraordinary circumstances. Character, behaviour, conformity, and the duration of stay in the UK for non-migration-related reasons after the submission or denial of a human rights or asylum claim will be considered.

Other situations

Rejection and criminality: In certain situations, the Home Office may give Discretionary Leave to Remain (assuming restricted leave does not apply) if a suspension, termination, or withdrawal of refugee status or protection from persecution is being evaluated. It is uncommon to award Discretionary Leave to Remain to someone who has a criminal record, but it is possible in some situations if the person is deemed low risk.

Offspring of parents having the Right to Remain Unemployed

Offspring of non-British parents having Discretionary Leave to Remain in the UK will often be granted a limited period of time to continue living in the country in accordance with their parents’ rights. According to the immigration regulations, a child’s entitlement to depart in cases where only one parent has Discretionary depart to Remain will be contingent upon the other parent’s citizenship.

If Discretionary Leave to Remain is not Granted

Generally speaking, Discretionary Leave to Remain is only allowed for a maximum of 30 months, though the precise amount of time depends on the circumstances of each instance. After ten years of continuous residency in the UK, a person granted Discretionary Leave to remain by the Home Office may be qualified to apply for settled status. It can be achieved to obtain additional DL for 30 months each time, but this should not be considered for granted because it is discretionary in nature and immigration laws are subject to frequent revisions. It is necessary to apply for Discretionary Leave to Remain no later than 28 days before the expiration of the present leave. If you don’t, the application will be considered expired. When determining whether to award additional Discretionary Leave to Remain, the person handling the case will consider many factors, including the data included in the original and extension applications as well as the country report. According to the guidelines for granting additional leave, if the case officer needs further details to make a judgment, they may consider and authorize Discretionary Leave to Remain without conducting an interview.

When an individual is granted Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) in the United Kingdom, they are given certain rights and permissions for the duration specified in their leave. It’s important for individuals to understand what they can and cannot do during this period. Here are some general guidelines:

What You Can Do:

What You Cannot Do:


Can Discretionary Leave to Remain lead to permanent settlement?

DLR does not automatically lead to permanent settlement. Individuals interested in permanent settlement may need to explore other immigration routes and meet specific criteria.

Can I travel outside the UK with Discretionary Leave to Remain?

Travel conditions may vary, and individuals with DLR should check the specific conditions attached to their grant before planning any travel outside the UK.

What happens when my Discretionary Leave to Remain expires?

It’s important to take appropriate steps before the expiration of DLR, such as applying for an extension, exploring alternative immigration routes, or preparing to leave the UK to avoid overstaying.

Can I apply for Discretionary Leave to Remain from within the UK?

In most cases, individuals need to apply for DLR before their current immigration status expires. It’s crucial to submit the application with all required documentation and evidence.