Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a status granted to overseas nationals who wish to live in the UK permanently and free from immigration restrictions.
Since the route is highly sought by hundreds of visa applicants every year and is regarded as the final step before full British citizenship, the ILR application is fraught with complex jargon and lengthy immigration requirements.
If you need help navigating the Indefinite Leave to Remain rules, speak to our immigration lawyers at 1 Absolute Advisor. Our ILR specialists are more than happy to advise you from start-to-finish with your application, so get in touch by calling 0207 993 6762.
Sometimes referred to as Permanent Residence, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a highly regarded immigration status which grants holders the right to live and work in the UK without facing any restrictions.
In addition, ILR status grants access to UK benefits and a wide variety of advantages that Visa holders are generally prohibited from. And, since ILR is a gateway for overseas nationals to gain access to a long list of new rights and protected permanent residency in the UK, the ILR requirements are stringent and thorough. UKVI also critically assesses each ILR application it receives. Indeed, there is little room for error when it comes to Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
To be eligible, you must have lived in the UK for a continuous period of at least five years. However, some are eligible to apply for ILR status in as little as three years if they have been granted an exemption from the residency rule.
The good news is that applicants with ILR status do not need to contend with the immigration rules. They do not need to apply, extend or renew a UK Visa, and are able to live in the UK permanently.
Most UK visas put applicants on the path towards ILR, including the Work Visa, Spouse Visa and similar categories of the Family Visa. However, it is important to note that not all visas permit holders to switch onto ILR.
Indefinite Leave To Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain is commonly referred to as ‘Permanent Residence’. If you're an overseas national, and you're granted Indefinite Leave to remain, you'll have permission to live and work in the United Kingdom without restriction. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE), also mentioned as settlement or permanent residence, are kinds of immigration status within the UK which mean there is no longer a deadline on a person’s ability to remain in the UK. If you hold Indefinite Leave To Remain or ILE, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will state either ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘indefinite leave to enter' or ‘no time limit’. It may also state ‘settlement’. When travelling outside the United Kingdom, you must always take your BRP card with you to re-enter the border.
Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship is not the same thing. A person holding an Indefinite Leave to Remain retains their original nationality. They are also not permitted to vote in the General elections unless they qualify for it under their nationality. Any migrant who holds the Indefinite Leave to Remain can leave and return to the United Kingdom without any restrictions. However, if they leave the country for more than two years they might lose their Indefinite Leave To Remain status.
Any applicant who has held Indefinite Leave To Remain for more than twelve months and is over the age of 18 years can apply for British Citizenship if they have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for at least five years. Certain Indefinite Leave To Remain Holders can apply for British Citizenship under the registration clauses if they are qualified to do so or if they are born in the UK or if they hold another form of British Nationality. The cost of registration is normally less than the cost of naturalisation and the applications do not have to meet the knowledge and language requirements.
In order to be deemed eligible for ILR, you must meet the following requirements:
There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled for someone to become eligible to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain. The most important and basic requirement is for the applicant to have lawfully lived in the United Kingdom continuously for a certain period of time. In most cases, non-EEA people will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain after living in the UK for five years. However, the minimum time requirement is based on the visa the applicant is currently living under and their circumstances. Along with the time requirements, there are other requirements that a prospective applicant must fulfill in order to become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain. These requirements are as follows:
It is important to note that if an applicant is found to have deceived the Home Office in any application or during their time in the UK, they will not be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain and further necessary action could be taken against them.
If you have applied for a UK Visa, it is likely you will have needed to sit an English language test to prove that you have a reasonable degree of speaking, listening and writing in English.
For ILR, you must score level B1 in speaking and listening as specified by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Some people, such as those who originate from English-speaking countries or who are reasonably exempt due to age or disability, do not need to take the test.
However, a key component of the ILR application is the Life in the UK test. Here, you must score at least 75% to pass. This test is significantly harder, with some officials dubbing it more like a ‘pub quiz’, as you need to prove that you understand UK laws, traditions, customs, culture and British history.
You will have to prove that you meet the English language requirements by having either:
Applicants who are aged 65 years or above or physically or mentally unable to prove their English language requirement are exempted from the same.
The amount of time an applicant must have spent in the United Kingdom is based on the visa they are currently holding or on their current living situation. The applicant must have been living in the UK lawfully for their time to be counted in the time requirements for the Indefinite Leave To Remain. Typically, the minimum time requirement is five years for most applicants. Individuals who have been living under the spouse visas, family visas, unmarried partner visas or Tier 2 work visas can apply for an Indefinite Leave To Remain after five years. However, there are several other visas and living situations that have different requirements for minimum time spent in the UK.
In order to be eligible for ILR, you must have continuously lived in the UK for a period of five years unless you have been given specific permission to seek ILR in three years.
Nevertheless, not all visas count towards your residency in the UK. Time spent in the UK under ‘temporary’ visas such as the UK Student Visa and the Visitor Visa do not contribute the years required towards ILR.
However, the following visa routes do count towards your five years’ residency:
If you have lawfully lived in the UK as per the visa you hold, you will be able to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain after you have completed the minimum time requirement for that particular visa. An individual applying for Indefinite Leave To Remain will also have to fulfil other requirements. The various Visas/ Routes which can lead to getting Indefinite Leave to Remain status include:
Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are many unique UK visas and immigration permits. If you’re unsure about your accumulative residency in the UK, speak to an immigration lawyer who can check for you.
An individual can also become eligible for Indefinite Leave To Remain through other routes where you are not required to hold a specific visa.
Not everyone who is eligible for ILR actually needs to apply for it. The immigration rules do outline some exemptions, such as people who are automatically eligible for British citizenship instead like British citizenship by descent, for example.
Children can also be exempt if they are the dependent of someone with British citizenship or Settled Status.
Similarly, an adult dependent in need of long-term care will not need to apply for ILR. Refugees who have been granted protection through a UK resettlement scheme are also exempt from meeting the ILR requirements.
There are certain individuals who do not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted with settled UK status, this includes:
The Life in the UK test is another important part for fulfilling the knowledge of language and life requirements. This test is mandatory as it comes under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and it is taken to test the applicant’s knowledge of British Life and proficiency in the English Language. The Life in the UK is computer based and it contains 24 multiple choice questions that test topics such as British Values, History, Traditions and everyday life in the United Kingdom. The test has a time limit of 45 minutes and you will need to get 18 questions correct out of 24 or 75% to pass the test. After taking the test, you will get the Pass Notification Letter or an email with the code if you successfully pass your test. The cost of taking the test is £50 and there are more than 30 accredited centers where you can take the test. You can sit the test in any one of the five centres closest to where you live. There are no limitations on the number of times you can take the test and once you pass, the Life in the UK Test never expires.
Generally, you will be required to fill one of two possible forms to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain. The forms are: SET (M)- You will have to fill this form if you're applying as a spouse, civil partner, same-sex or unmarried partner of a person present and settled in the UK. SET(O)- Almost all other applicants will have to fill this form The applications for almost all Indefinite Leave To Remain are now submitted online, including those who have been living under Tier 1 Investor and Global Talent Visas, Tier 2 Visas, Skilled Worker Visas, PBS Dependents and those on UK Ancestry Visas. The online Indefinite Leave To Remain forms can be found on the Home Office’s Website.
Once you get Indefinite Leave to Remain (Indefinite Leave To Remain), you are allowed to stay in the UK without any restrictions on your time or activities. You will also be permitted to travel into and out of the country without any immigration control. Although Indefinite Leave To Remain grants indefinite permission to live in the UK, you can lose this status under certain circumstances. The UK immigration rules specify that the Indefinite Leave To Remain status will expire when the holder has left the United Kingdom, Ireland, or the Isle of Man and has remained absent for more than two continuous years. This means that after two years of absence from the UK, you would not be considered present or settled in the UK. The two-year rule applies to everyone regardless of the expiry date of your Indefinite Leave To Remain documentation, such as your BRP or vignette in your passport. Your status will be automatically lapsed after you have stayed out of the country for two years. If you have lost your Indefinite Leave To Remain status as per the two-year rule, you will have to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident before you come back to live in the UK. It is important to note that if the applicant holds EU settled status, then the expiry rule applies after spending five years out of the UK.
There are certain conditions which can exempt applicants from the Indefinite leave to remain expiry rule, they are as follows:
The time taken to get a decision regarding an Indefinite Leave To Remain application varies according to the different routes and visa categories and also the personal circumstances of your application. The applications that require further enquiries usually take longer to decide than the general timeline. The UKVI also publishes processing times for Indefinite Leave To Remain applications on their websites to give you a general idea of how long your application might take. The general processing time is upto 6 months. However, most Indefinite Leave To Remain applications are decided in 8 weeks. You can opt for a super-priority service to speed up your application processing time and the cost for the service is £800. By availing this service, your Indefinite Leave To Remain application will normally be decided in 24 hours.
There are numerous benefits of holding an Indefinite Leave To Remain or ILE, some of them are:
The cost of applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain is £2,389 which is the cost for the Home Office to process the application for the Indefinite Leave to Remain.
ILR applicants must generally have lived lawfully in the UK for a period of five years. Applicants can accrue this time while living under the same visa, or by accumulating 5 years by combining different UK visas, providing they were granted back-to-back.
In other words, you must not have any gaps in your immigration history in the UK.
This is typically referred to as the ‘five-year route to settlement’. However, some are eligible in as little as three years, including:
It is important to note that while many applicants are able to switch UK visas during their five year stay, those with an Investor Visa, Innovator Visa and Entrepreneur Visa must resume living in the UK under these specific permissions in order to accrue the time necessary for ILR.
Applicants must prove to UKVI that they have not spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any given 12-month period throughout the past five years.
The reason this is in place is because you must show your intent to live in the UK permanently. Any excessive absences overseas might cast doubt on your sincerity and intention to remain in the country.
Those with a UK Family Visa, such as a Spouse Visa, may be exempt from the absence rule. However, this exemption does not cover ILR family members when they come to apply for British citizenship. It is therefore advised to err on the side of caution if you plan on spending significant time outside of the UK.
You can also seek an exemption from the absence rule if you have serious or compelling reasons to be overseas. For instance, if a close family member has a serious illness or if you are required to travel for work. Similarly, if a natural disaster or conflict has struck when you are abroad, UKVI may waive the absence rule for you, too.
Our lawyers in London, UK, are all OISC-certified and expertly trained to issue legal immigration advice. Our immigration solicitors are well versed in the ILR application rules, and can help you with your case no matter how complex it may seem.
Furthermore, 1 Absolute Advisor offers bespoke ILR packages and personalised services to meet your needs at a guaranteed price promise. Read our full ILR guide if you wish to learn more about the ILR requirements, and get in touch with our friendly client care team today for a free consultation on your case on 0207 993 6762.
ILR status and British citizenship are not synonymous: you will need to apply for British citizenship separately.
How long you need to wait before you can seek UK citizenship largely depends on your personal circumstances. Most people will need to wait 12 months while holding ILR status before being eligible for full citizenship, while others (like Spouses of British citizens) can actually switch immediately from ILR to citizenship.
If you need help applying for UK nationality after being awarded ILR, 1 Absolute Advisor is here to help. Our lawyers are specially trained in UK nationality law, and can help you no matter the complexity of your query. Call us today on 0207 993 6762.
90% of the ILR postal applications are decided within 3 months.
Yes if you have successfully completed 5 years on a qualifying visa route in the UK you can apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain after 5 years.
You can stay a maximum of 2 years outside the UK
Depending on your reasons for refusal there are several options you may have to get it overturned. Most popular way is to appeal the decision.