Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or UK settlement, grants an applicant the right to live and work in the UK rendering them no longer subject to immigration restrictions allowing them to work and live freely in the UK.
 

With indefinite leave to remain, you can work and study and also claim public benefits. You can also leave and re-enter the UK without needing to secure a visa and can be joined by your family.

In order to meet the requirements, you will be required to have spent 5 continuous years in the UK with lawful status and without excessive absences.
 

English language & Life in the UK test requirement

If you are aged between 18 and 64 then as part of your ILR application you will need to pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test and meet the higher English language at Level B1 unless an exemption applies (please note the English test requirement is subject to change and advice should be sought as it is a mandatory requirement).

Obtaining indefinite status is fundamental in qualifying for a British passport, since Naturalisation as a British Citizen requires that the applicant is settled in the UK.

Absences

The amount of time you spend in the UK before you can be considered eligible for
ILR is a major factor when calculating the absences.

For an entry clearance visa or leave to remain in the UK granted prior to 11 January 2018, ILR applicants cannot have absences from the UK of more than 180 days in the five consecutive12 month periods.

Periods of leave granted after 11 January 2018, are calculated on a rolling basis, with the 180 days applicable to any 12 month period during the qualifying period.  Exceeding the 180 days will render you ineligible for ILR.

These changes to the absences apply to dependents over 18 years of age under the Points Base System, Spouses, Civil Partnerships and Unmarried Partners.  

Different categories leading to Indefinite:

Spouse of a British Citizen or Person settled in the UK - five or ten years if applied on or after 9 July 2012;

Tier 1 visa - Five years;

Tier 2 visa - Five years (excluding Tier 2 ICT);

UK ancestry visa - Five years;

Discretionary Leave to Remain -Six years;

Long residence - Ten years lawful residency;

 

Different categories leading to Indefinite - Overview:

Appendix FM

If applying for indefinite leave to remain as a Spouse, Civil Partner or Unmarried Partner, you will need to:

  • have completed 5 years (60 months) in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or settled person;

  • You will also need to satisfy the strict financial requirement under Appendix FM;

  • Show you have maintained your relationship;

  • Unless an exemption applies, you will also need to meet the higher English Language requirement that applies to settlement applications and have passed the Life in the UK test.

Tier 2 General Skilled Worker

You have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) migrant.

  • You have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period preceding the date of application;

  • provide evidence for the absences, which must be in connection with the employment or for a serious or compelling reason;

  • You are not in the UK in breach of immigration laws except that any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less will be disregarded;

  • You are still required for the employment in question, as certified by your employer;

  • You are paid the appropriate salary in accordance with the Immigration Rules for ILR;

  • In addition to the salary requirements above, you are paid at or above the appropriate rate for the job as stated in the Codes of Practice;

  • You have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.

Long Residence

If you have lived in the United Kingdom continuously and lawfully for 10 years, you may qualify for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK on the basis of long residence.

The qualifying 10 year period does not need to have been completed recently. You can rely on a historic continuous period of 10 years lawful residence.

Requirements for ILR on grounds of Long Residence

In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain, you will need to have met the following:

  • You have spent a period of at least 10 years residing in the United Kingdom continuously and lawfully;

  • Your 10 year period of lawful residence is unbroken;

  • Your absences have not exceeded 540 days or a single absence of more than 6 months;

  • There are no public interest reasons why it would be undesirable to grant you indefinite leave to remain;

  • There are no general grounds for refusing your application (such as a criminal conviction).

  • You have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.

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When assessing whether there are any public interest reasons why it would be undesirable to grant you indefinite leave to remain, the Home Office will consider the following factors:

  • Your age;

  • The strength of your connections in the UK;

  • Your personal history (e.g. character, conduct, associations, and employment record);

  • Your domestic circumstances;

  • Any compassionate circumstances;

  • Any representations submitted on your behalf.

UK Ancestry

To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain under UK Ancestry you must have: 

  • You have been working or genuinely seeking work during the past five years;

  • You will either need to have a job offer in the UK or be able to satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend to seek employment/self-employment and have a realistic prospect of doing so;

  • Your age and health will be important factors when assessing whether this requirement of employment is met;

  • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years residence in the UK;

  • Your absences have not exceeded more than 180 days in any of the previous 5 years outside the UK during the qualifying period;

  • You have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.