I don't know what's wrong with me or BBC, but I often need double-takes in order to understand some sentences within news articles coming from BBC.

This time no matter how many takes, I don't understand this sentence:

The government launched a pilot scheme this week for people to apply for leave to remain through a smartphone app.

I just cannot break down the meaning of this.

Here are some sentences I could come up with :

A smartphone app will remain available for people to apply for [work] leave.


A smartphone app will remain available for people planning to leave the country to apply on.


The government left the remaining task to a smartphone app, where people can apply for.

None of these sentences make sense in the context of the article (if they even made any sense at all); So what does this sentence mean?


1 Answer 1


The phrase "leave to remain" is a single, technical term in UK immigration Law. It is the status of someone who has been allowed to stay in the UK for the next 5 years.

The government launched a pilot scheme

Pilot means a test of the scheme. When did the goverment launch it?

this week,

What is the scheme for?

for people to apply...

What will they apply for?

for "leave to remain"

How can people apply for this?

through a smartphone app.

The context is people from EU countries may have to apply for "Leave to Remain" when the UK leaves the EU

  • 2
    It is not surprising that the phrase 'leave to remain' might puzzle someone. It is as @JamesK says a technical term but it originates in the use of the word 'leave' as, now an old-fashioned, synonym for 'permission'. One can be given leave to do, or not do something, without having to move away.
    – JeremyC
    Jan 21, 2019 at 23:11

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