If you are the Spouse of a British citizen (or someone with Settled Status), you will need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in order to remain in the UK permanently.
Read our short guide on how you can seek ILR through the UK Spouse Visa. If you need help with your ILR application, our immigration lawyers based in London are on hand to help. We can assess your case or over the phone from anywhere in the world. Give 1 Absolute Advisor a call on 0207 993 6762.
There are two routes through which a spouse can seek ILR: the 5-year route and the 10-year route. Before applying, you must know which route applies to you as you may have been issued conditions when your Spouse Visa extension application was approved.
If you’re unsure, you can verify with the Home Office and double check any past emails or letters you have received from UKVI. If you hire an immigration lawyer, they may also be able to check for you.
The 5-year settlement route is the most common pathway to ILR. To apply, you need to satisfy the requirements according to Appendix FM of the immigration rules and fill out Form Set (M).
Meanwhile, those on the 10-year route to settlement will need to use Form FLP (RP) and meet the Spouse to ILR requirements.
You are most likely familiar with the UK Spouse Visa rules – particularly once you have sought an extension. The requirements of the ILR to Spouse Visa are largely the same.
You will need to satisfy the financial requirement, prove your knowledge of English, pass the genuine relationship criteria and provide evidence of your accommodation. You may need to provide evidence of your absences from the UK while you have been living in the UK with your partner.
Additionally, you must prove that you have lived in the UK for five years consecutively. The rules here can be complicated, as your 5 years are only ‘recognised’ if you have accumulated this time whilst holding a Spouse Visa – and must have remained with the same partner.
Fortunately, Married Partner Visas are granted for a period of 30 months. This means that after your initial Spouse Visa and a subsequent extension, you will have accumulated 5 years (60 months) to be eligible for ILR.
You should include the following documents in your application:
It is frustrating when your Spouse Visa to ILR application has been refused by UKVI, but unfortunately it is all too common. Applicants make the mistake of attempting the application themselves and fail to prove that they meet all of the eligibility criteria.
However, your application could have been refused for outstanding charges and debt owed to the NHS over £500.
The Home Office may have decided that you are not of ‘good character’. If you have a history of breaching the immigration rules, for example by providing fake documents, making serious errors or failing to disclose adequate material, UKVI may block you from applying for ILR.
You will also be denied if you have been convicted of a serious criminal offence which you received a custodial sentence for.
Similar to the Spouse Visa application, you will need to meet the same financial requirements. For example, by meeting the Minimum Income Threshold or through combined savings. Read our Spouse Visa financial guide to find out more about the Partner Visa financial requirements.
Again, you will also need to prove that your home meets UK living standards. It must also have adequate space for yourself, your partner and any children (dependents) who live with you.
A key difference to the English language requirement for Spouse Visa holders seeking ILR is that you will also need to pass a Life in the UK test in addition to passing an English language test.
There are some exemptions to the KoLL requirement (‘knowledge of the English language and life in the UK’), for example due to age or vulnerability. You also don’t need to prove your understanding if you originate from an English-speaking country or if you studied a degree that was taught in English.
Normally, applicants seeking ILR must not have spent significant time outside the UK. These absences must not have exceeded 180 days in any 12-month period and applies to most applicants. For example, Skilled Worker Visa, Global Talent Visa, Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa holders will need to provide evidence of their absences overseas by submitting travel documents and visa stamps.
Fortunately, Spouse Visa ILR applicants do not need to meet such stringent requirements. That said, any absences must be for a justifiable reason. You could be deemed suspicious if you have spent the majority of the past 5 years overseas when your Spouse Visa was granted on the condition of permanent cohabitation with your partner in the UK.
So while the absence rule does not apply to you, you must be mindful that you continue to satisfy the ‘genuine relationship’ requirement of the Spouse Visa rules.
In some circumstances, UKVI will completely waive the requirement for you. For instance, if you were abroad due to your employment, your partner’s work and on holidays spent together.
ILR applications cost £2,389 per person, though this may rise if you require a super-priority service (£800) and if you hire an immigration lawyer to streamline the process for you.
At 1 Absolute Advisor, our immigration lawyers have decades of experience between them, and all the dedication and commitment to your case.
Our lawyers are also all OISC-certified. We even have Spouse Visa immigration specialists who know exactly what UKVI is looking for in your application and how you can tick all of their boxes.
Call us on 0207 993 6762 for expert insight into your Spouse Visa to ILR application and for legal advice regarding your case.