- ILR eligibility requirements – who can apply?
- Rights under ILR
- When ILR can be revoked
- Visa types that lead to ILR
- ILR Residency requirements
- ILR absence restrictions
- ILR English language requirements
- Can ILR expire?
- Is ILR permanent?
- ‘Life In The UK’ test
- Documents required
- ILR fees and timeframes
- Biometric Residence Permit (BPR)
ILR eligibility requirements – who can apply?
You can get Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK through a number of different routes. Most applicants will be living in the UK with permission, as one of the following:
- A partner
- A family member
- Certain types of workers (e.g Skilled Worker / Tier 2)
- On continuous and long-term lawful residence
- A dependent child of a British citizen or of person who has settled status in the UK may be given immediate permission to remain indefinitely
- A person with ancestry ties
- A refugee who is resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Programme will automatically be granted immediate permission to remain
- Here is a list of ILR requirements which should help you understand if you could be eligible for ILR. However, note that ILR requirements vary depending on the type of visa you may hold. Contact our immigration experts if you are unsure about your eligibility.
- Have been lawfully and continuously living in the UK for a certain period of time, in most cases five years
- Have passed the Life in the UK Test (click here for more information about the test)
- Not leave the UK for more than 90 days in any 12 month period during the qualifying period
- Not have been in breach of any immigration rules during time spent in the UK
- Not have a criminal record
- Hold an English Language Certificate to show you possess Level B1 in English, as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
There are certain circumstances where a person may be granted settled status in the UK without needing to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. These are circumstances where you are:
- Eligible for British citizenship by descent (or another form of automatic citizenship)
- A child dependent of a British citizen or of a person with settled status
- An adult-dependent who is reliant on the long-term care provided by a family member who is a British citizen or who is a person with settled status
- A refugee who is resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Program
Rights under ILR
Under Indefinite Leave to Remain you will be able to work and/or study in the UK without restrictions.
You may also take up self-employed work or work in the voluntary sector.
You will be able to access free healthcare on the NHS, and benefits if you need to.
When ILR can be revoked
ILR status can be revoked under certain circumstances where you:
- Are away from the UK for longer than two years
- Are liable to deportation but you are not able to be deported for legal reasons
- Were granted ILR as a refugee and you are no longer classed as a refugee
- Are found to have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain by deception
Visa types that lead to ILR
You are eligible for applying for ILR if you have lived in the UK on a visa that can lead to settlement (as well as fulfilling the other necessary requirements). Once the visa’s minimum time period has elapsed, you can apply for ILR.
Which visa types allow you to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
- Discretionary Leave to Remain
- Entrepreneur Visa
- Family Visa
- Fiancé Visa
- Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Innovator Visa
- Investor Visa
- Intra-Company Transfer Visa
- Long Residence
- Minister of Religion Visa
- PBS Dependant Visa
- Retired Person Visa
- Returning Resident
- Skilled Worker Visa (formerly a Tier 2 General work visa)
- Sportsperson Visa
- Spouse Visa
- Start-up Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
If you don’t hold a relevant visa, it is also possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Contact us now if you feel this may apply to your circumstances or to find out more about this option.
ILR residency requirements
Your eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain depends on your circumstances. Most overseas individuals can apply for ILR after lawfully living in the UK for five years.
Which visa types require five years of UK residence for ILR?
- Family Visa
- Fiancé Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Spouse Visa
- Tier 1 Investor Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
Which visa categories require less than five years of UK residence for ILR?
- Global Talent Visa – eligible after three years. If the last endorsement was granted under ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’, or under the UK Research and Innovation fast track criteria
- Innovator Visa – eligible after three years. Depending on business achievements
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – eligible after three years. Depends on business activities (This visa is no longer available.)
- Tier 1 Investor Visa – eligible after two or three years. Depends on business activities
For those who have served in the British Armed Forces and who are citizens of the Commonwealth, it is possible to apply for ILR with four years of residence.
A dependent of a British citizen or of an individual with settled status will usually not need to satisfy any time requirements in order to become settled in the UK.
In some circumstances, the time period needed to qualify for ILR will be longer than five years. For example, for someone over the age of 18 on a Long Residence Visa, they will need to have been resident in the UK for 10 years before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. For those under the age of 18, seven years’ UK residency is required.
ILR absence restrictions
In most cases, you cannot spend more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12-month period in order to be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If you do break the continuous residency requirements, your ILR status could be revoked.
There are exceptions to this rule where, in certain situations, absence is considered permissible and does not break the continuous period requirement. These are as follows:
- A conflict
- Serious illness of a relative or the applicant
- A natural disaster
- A Skilled Worker Visa holder sponsored to work in a PhD level occupation
- Work carried out overseas by certain HM armed force reserve members
- Some absences by holders of a Global Talent Visa
- Absences of applicants who are assisting with a national or international humanitarian or economic crisis
It is important to note down your reasons for spending time outside the UK and the dates, as your reasons for absence are relevant to maintain your ILR.
ILR English language requirements
You need to show proficiency in the English language to gain permanent residence in the UK. Specifically, you need to prove that you meet level B1 as certified by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
An English language certificate from the test provider will be required for your ILR application.
There are some applicants who will not need to satisfy the English language criterion. These include citizens of the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Ireland (for citizenship only)
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
If you are from a country not on this exemption list you’ll need to prove your knowledge of English, even if English is an official language.
When does the English language criteria not apply for ILR?
- Aged 65 or over
- Unable to provide a test certificate due to a long-term physical or mental condition. In this case you must submit an exemption form to confirm your physical or mental condition
- The partner or spouse of a person who has died who was a British citizen or settled in the UK
- An adult dependent relative between the ages of 18 and 64 of someone who is settled in the UK, is a refugee or has humanitarian protection
- A refugee living in the UK
- A degree holder or someone who holds a higher-level qualification granted by an accredited educational establishment where the course was taught in English
- A victim of domestic abuse who is the partner or spouse of a British citizen or settled person
- Someone with discretionary leave living in the UK
- Someone under humanitarian protection living in the UK
- A retired person of independent means with permission to reside in the UK
- A Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces or Gurkhas
- Someone in exceptional circumstances, for example an orphan, widow or over-age dependant
If you are applying for British Citizenship, note that there are no such exemptions, as you need to have a relevant English language qualification, even if you were exempt under ILR.
Can indefinite leave to remain expire?
Yes, ILR can expire where you have had a consecutive absence from the UK of 2 years or more. This is because you are no longer considered to be a person who is settled in the UK if you have resided for more than two years outside the UK.
If you then wish to then return to and live in the UK, you will need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa in order for your ILR status to be reinstated.
ILR can also expire if you commit a serious crime.
Is ILR permanent?
Yes, once you have ILR status, it is permanent. You may reside in the UK for as long as you wish, without needing any visa.
However, you can lose your ILR status in circumstances where you leave the UK for 2 consecutive years or more, or you commit a serious crime. In these cases, ILR will lapse and cease to be valid.
Life in the UK Test
The Life in the UK test is a mandatory part of the ILR application process.
The test contains 24 questions relating to the history, culture and customs of the UK, and is often referred to as the British Citizenship test.
The test takes 45 minutes, and the questions are generated randomly on the day. You need a score of at least 75% to pass it.
The test has to be booked three days in advance. It costs £50.
There are over 50 test centres in the UK where you sit the test. You can choose one of the five closest centres to where you are located.
If you fail the test you can re-sit it seven days after the date of your test, and there is no limit to how many times you can re-sit it.
Only those between the ages of 18 and 65 need to take the test.
Upon successfully passing the Life in the UK test, you will receive a pass certificate which needs to be included with your ILR application.
Documents required for ILR application
When applying for ILR, documents need to be submitted both for yourself and any dependents that are also applying with you.
Original copies are needed, and if this is not possible, you’ll need to explain the reason.
Which document are required when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
- Current passport
- Any old passport you had whilst in the UK
- Any travel documents that relate to time spent outside of the UK
- Financial documents for example, wage slips, bank statements
- Life in the UK Test pass certificate (unless exempt)
- English language proficiency level of B1 pass certificate (unless exempt)
- A police registration certificate if you had to register with the police upon arrival in the UK
- Any relevant birth or adoption certificates
- Immigration history
- Any relevant documentation pertaining to your visa category
- Two identical passport-sized photographs in colour
ILR fees and timeframes
- 6 months – £2,389 per applicant, including any dependents
- 5 working days – £500 plus the standard fee of £2,389
- 1 working day – £800 plus the standard fee of £2,389
An additional £50 will be charged for every extra person you apply on behalf of.
Biometric Residence Permit (BPR)
What is a Biometric Residence Permit ?
A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is an identity card that holds the following information about you:
- Personal details and biometric information such as name, date of birth
- A digital photograph of your face
- Information relating to your immigration status
- Any conditions on your leave to remain
- Information about your eligibility to claim benefits and access services
When applying for ILR, you do not need to obtain a BPR. Upon ILR being granted, you will automatically receive a BRP.
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There are two ILR application forms, and you will need to complete the correct one for your circumstances: Form SET (O) or Form SET (M).
If you are applying for ILR as someone’s partner, or as the parent of a child that already holds settled status in the UK, Form Set (M) should be completed.
In all other circumstances, Form Set (O) will need to be completed.
The ILR forms can be found on the gov.uk site.
If your ILR application is refused, rest assured, our experienced immigration lawyers will guide you through the options available to you to fully maximise your chances of success at the next submission. These are the options open to you if ILR is refused:
- Pursue a Judicial Review
- Pursue an Administrative Review
- Start the application process again, ensuring that all mistakes made in the previous attempt are rectified
Your rejection decision will provide you with some details as to the reasons for rejection, as well as whether or not you have the right to appeal the decision or if you can pursue an Administrative Review.
If there was a mistake made in your ILR application such as an important piece of evidence not being taken into account, you can opt for an Administrative Review. This is where your application will be reconsidered by a different immigration official.
If there was an obvious mistake made in your ILR application, the best option is usually to resubmit the application having rectified the mistakes.
If you wish to explore your options following refusal of your ILR application, or wish to challenge the Home Office’s decision, contact our immigration lawyers who can support you throughout the entire process with our appeal package.
When ILR ends, you won’t automatically be granted British citizenship, but after you have lived in the UK for 12 months under ILR, you’ll be able to apply for British citizenship in most cases.
To apply for British citizenship, you will need to submit all supporting documentation along with the citizenship application form to the Home Office. Find out more about applying for British citizenship here: Apply to become a British citizen.
As a British citizen, you will be able to apply for a British passport and enjoy all benefits of citizenship.
Unspent criminal convictions have a major impact on an individual’s ability to secure ILR. It does however depend on the nature of the conviction and the circumstances surrounding it, to some extent.
Spent convictions can also affect your chance of a successful application. This also depends on nature of the conviction. We would advise contacting an immigration lawyer before commencing an ILR application to find out your likelihood of success.
Our team of experienced immigration lawyers understand the immense importance of securing Indefinite Leave to Remain, and we can guide you every step of the process.
We have a great track record of securing ILR approvals. Here are some of the services we provide:
- Determining whether you are eligible for ILR
- An in-depth document check to ensure all necessary documents are in place for your ILR application
- Completing your application form to the highest possible standard
- A Letter of Representation to the Home Office outlining the strengths of your case, including drawing attention to relevant immigration laws
- Maintaining regular contact with you throughout the process – via phone, in-person, or online
- Maintaining contact with the Home Office throughout the process on your behalf
- The submission of your application to the Home Office
- Assisting you with preparation for your English language test
- Assisting you with preparation for your Life in the UK Test
If you want to ensure your application is successful the first time, contact our immigration lawyers today. We offer advice sessions, and Application and Appeal Packages – all tailored for your individual circumstances.