Indefinite Leave To Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also sometimes called “settlement” or “permanent residence”, allows you to live, study and work in the UK without most immigration restrictions, and have access to public funds (benefits) and free National Health Service (NHS). This is usually the last step to undertake for non-UK citizens before they qualify for British Citizenship.  

ILR does not expire and is valid without any time restrictions. However, your settlement may lapse, if certain conditions are not met. For instance, if you spend two or more outside the UK, your ILR may be revoked as this suggests that you have established your main residence elsewhere. ILR can also be revoked for other reasons, such as committing a criminal offence, or can be invalidated following deportation from the UK.  

Depending on your circumstances, you can apply for ILR in different ways:  

  • If you are in the UK on a work visa and lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, you may be able to apply for ILR, If you have a Tier 1 visa, you may be able to apply for ILR in 2-3 years. If you have a Global Talent or Innovator visa, you can apply for ILR in 3 years subject to satisfying other requirements  
  • If you have a family in the UK and are on a Spouse or Civil Partner visa, Unmarried Partner visa, Adult Dependant Relative visa or Child visa, you may be able to apply for ILR after 5 years  
  • You may be able to apply for ILR if you lived in the UK for 10 or more years  
  • You may be able to apply for ILR via the Private Life route or the UK Ancestry route  
  • You may be eligible to apply for ILR using other routes, as a refugee or a person with humanitarian protection or a discretionary leave; if you are a returning resident to the UK or served in the armed forces.  

If you are a national of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you may be eligible to apply for ILR via the EU Settlement Scheme.

Our solicitors can help with advising on the relevant requirements for ILR application, reviewing necessary documents, completing and submitting the application form and required evidence, and accompanying the process until you received your settlement in the UK.  

If your application has been refused, our solicitors can help to appeal the refusal to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber on your behalf. If you do not have grounds for appeal or your appeal fails, our solicitors may be able to apply for Judicial Review on your behalf.

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What are the requirements for an ILR application?

  • You have been continuously living in the UK for the required qualifying period of time
  • You must be of “good character” if you are aged 10 or over
  • You must pass The Life in the UK test, unless exempt
  • You must pass a higher English Language test, unless exempt
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any rolling 12 months of the qualifying period
  • You may also need to meet salary, financial requirements or other visa-specific requirements

When can I apply for ILR?

You can apply after satisfying the residency requirement of your qualifying visa route.  

5-year Route to ILR  

Most visa routes require the applicants to spend a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, although some visa categories, such as Global Talent, Innovator, Entrepreneur and Investor, may allow securing settlement after 2-3 years.    

This applies to the following routes:  

  • Work visas: Skilled Worker visa, Sole Representive of an Overseas Business visa, Innovator visa, Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa, International Sportsperson visa, Turkish Businessperson visa, Turkish Worker visa, Global Talent visa
  • Investment visas: Tier 1 Investor visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa of the formerly known points-based system
  • Family visas: Spouse or Civil Partner visa, Unmarried Partner visa, Adult Dependant Relative visa or Child visa
  • Tier 5 (International Agreement) visa
  • Person with a UK Ancestry visa  

10-year (Long Residence) Route to ILR  

The Long Residence route to settlement is for foreign nationals who have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for at least 10 years regardless of the type of visa they held.  

+ What documents and information are required to make an ILR application?  

It is exceptionally important to include all required documentary evidence for ILR applications as most of them can be refused because of insufficient evidence provided. Every case is different, and depending on your particular circumstances, you may be required to provide additional evidence. Below is a list of the most commonly required documents:  

  • Application form and including application fee
  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Two passport-size photos of each applicant with their name clearly written on the back of each photo
  • For children dependants, birth or adoption certificate
  • Police registration certification if you have been required to register with the police as part of your qualifying visa requirement
  • Evidence of any absences from the UK
  • Proof of English language at least at the SEFR level B1, unless exempt
  • Proof of successfully passing the Life in the UK test
  • Evidence that you meet financial requirements (this may vary depending on your qualifying visa), if required

How can I apply? How long does it take to get a decision?

You will be required to submit an online application, pay the fees, upload the scanned documents and other supporting evidence online, arrange an appointment to provide your biometric information, such as digital photos and fingerprints, and attend an interview if required.  If you have any dependant, they will be able to apply at the same time.  

You should get a decision on your visa within 6 months once you apply online, although the actual times vary depending on the complexity of your application, and we advise you to check any updates on current visa processing times.  

Priority service is currently available for ILR applications and you may be able to get your visa within 5 working days. If you are eligible for a Super-priority service, you can apply and get a decision within 24 hours. 

What can I do if my ILR application has been refused?

If your application for ILR has been refused, you may have a right to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) if your application for settlement was considered to be a human rights claim. If it was not or the appeal was refused, you might be able pursue further via Judicial Review (to challenge the lawfulness of the decision) or via Administrative Review (if a mistake was made by the decision maker when issuing your visa refusal).  

You will also have the option to make a new visa application if this is the most advisable course of action. If you decide to reapply, you shall address in the new visa application all reasons for your refusal, providing all missing information and relevant supporting evidence.  

Our solicitors can assist you with your settlement refusal process as it can be a complex immigration matter requiring specialist legal support, advice and representation.