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Indefinite Leave to Remain

Applying for Settlement to permanently stay in the UK (otherwise referred to as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) is the process by which applicants can apply to live and work in the UK without any time restrictions. The status allows immigrants to settle in the UK and entitles them to naturalise as British Citizens.

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) means permission to live in the UK without any time limit. Holders of indefinite leave to remain are entitled to work in the UK and they are also entitled to receive any state benefits that they qualify for.

Indefinite leave to remain is not the same thing as British citizenship. A person who holds ILR retains their original nationality and they are not entitled, for example, to vote in General Elections unless they otherwise qualify for this by virtue of their nationality.

Migrants who hold indefinite leave to remain are generally able to leave and return to the UK without restriction. However, if they leave the UK for over two years they may lose their indefinite leave to remain status.

FAQ’s about Indefinite Leave to Remain

How can I qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

You can qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under several visa categories after living in the UK for a specified period of time. The qualifying period depends on your current visa category and status in the UK.

There are various routes a person can take in order to qualify for ILR. Certain applicants can apply for ILR after 2 years, while the majority can do so after 5 years residence if all other requirements are met. There is also a 10-year route for people who have lived in the UK lawfully for a continuous period of 10 years. 

The major requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications include having stayed in the UK for a qualifying period of time under a specified visa category and fulfilling the knowledge of language and life requirement.

What are the main routes to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

There are several routes which can be taken in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. Generally, you can qualify for ILR within one of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 migrants – Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), Tier 1 (Investor) and their dependants
  • Tier 2 (General) migrants and their dependants
  • Spouse or partner of a person settled in the UK
  • UK ancestry route
  • Domestic workers covered by transitional arrangements
  • Migrants in closed categories, such as HSMP or Work Permit holders, and their dependents

Depending on your current visa category and routes listed above, you will need to fulfil the time period criteria to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can only submit the application after qualifying for indefinite leave to remain on that basis. Please contact our Immigration Team who can expertly advise you further with regards to the time period relating to your own circumstances.

How can I fulfil the English Language Requirement?

You can prove the required knowledge of English language by having either:

  • An English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level
  • A degree taught or researched in English

What is the Life in the UK test?

Another important part of fulfilling the knowledge of language and life requires you to pass the Life in the UK test.

This is taken in order to test the knowledge of British life and sufficient proficiency in the English language. Candidates have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs.

How long do applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain take to be decided?

Decision times again vary according to the routes and visa categories and the personal circumstances of your application. Applications that require further enquiries usually take longer to decide than the general timeline.

The forms for your ILR application, the fees incurred and the documents required will all vary dependant on the individual categories and routes under which you are applying for your Indefinite Leave to Remain. It can be a complex process but our team are vastly experienced dealing with individuals looking to obtain settlement in the UK.

For further expert and professional advice and assistance in relation to your Indefinite Leave to Remain application, including with regards to fees and charges, application methods and processing times and the necessary requirements and eligibility criteria please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team who are ready and able to help you.

Please be advised that Immigration Rules are always changing. Contact us for the latest help, advice and information with regards to your query.