Some categories can be combined while others can’t be. Tier 2 General visa can be combined with Tier 1 General but can’t be combined with a Spouse/Partner visa. Spouse/Partner visa now can’t be combined with any other visa at all, so your qualifying period for an ILR will start all over again if you switch to a Spouse/Partner visa (currently, it is 5 years, so ‘your’ 5 years will start all over again). This is a matter of the Immigration Rules, so fortunately, there is no need to guess. each category of the Rules has a list of what can be combined (and can’t be, if it’s not on the list). You may find useful our earlier post on ‘Help me with the Rules’: http://1st4immigration-visas.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/help-me-with-rules-how-to-find-out.html
One of the main reasons for this confusion is the fact that an overwhelming number of categories require 5 years to qualify for an ILR. So, it is indeed easy to think that 5 years of residency in the UK is all one needs. However, some categories require less or more than 5 years: those on the old Discretionary Leave need 6 years, those applying through Family or Private Life route – 10 years. Spouses/Partners of UK citizens needed only 2 years under the Rules before 9 July 2012 (now it is 5 years).
There is only one category when any visas can be combined - Long Residence 10 years, which needs 10 years of legal residency in the UK on any types of visas. Those qualifying under the EEA Regulations have different Rules altogether, all of the above relates to the UK Immigration Rules.
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