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Does Indefinite Leave to Remain mean Citizenship?

It can be easy to confuse Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) with British Citizenship since the two are a form of permanent status in the UK. However, the rights afforded to ILR holders vastly different to the rights held by UK citizens.  

If you need help applying for either ILR or British citizenship, Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help. Our lawyers can speak to you remotely or face-to-face if you prefer. Get in touch with us today on 0121 667 6530 to find out more.



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The difference between ILR and Citizenship 

While ILR and citizenship share similarities, ILR is a prerequisite to British Citizenship. In other words, you cannot apply for British Citizenship without having had Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status for at least 12 months. There are some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking if you a visa national in the UK, this is the route through which you will need to travel down to be awarded UK citizenship.  

British Citizenship is the final stop of your UK visa and immigration journey. With citizenship, you will be considered a full UK citizen in your own right. You can apply for a British passport, vote in both local and general elections and access free healthcare. You can pass your citizenship on to any subsequent children you have in the UK, too. If you wish to access higher education, you won’t need to pay extortionate international tuition fees. 

Skilled worker visa

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?  

ILR is a form of settlement that most overseas nationals must obtain in the UK if they wish to pursue British Citizenship. It is a form of permanent residency which allows holders to remain the UK while being free of immigration restrictions.  

To be eligible, you must have spent at least 5 years in the UK. Some, however, can seek ILR in a shorter time period such as those with a UK Spouse Visa in as little as 3 years. 

Although ILR holders do not need to apply for visas or continually switch statuses, ILR does not grant the same rights as citizenship holders. For instance, ILR holders are not eligible for a UK passport.

What are the ILR requirements? 

To apply for ILR, you must: 

  • Prove you can understand English by sitting a test 
  • Prove you have legally resided in the UK throughout the 5 (or 3) year period 
  • Prove your ‘absences’ form the UK do not exceed 180 days in the past 12 months 
  • Prove you have no criminal record 


Who can skip ILR and apply for Citizenship? 

Only in limited circumstances are you able to skip applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and seek citizenship.  

This includes: 

  • If you are eligible for British citizenship by descent  
  • Child or adult dependents of British citizens 
  • Refugees who have resettled in the UK via the Gateway Protection Programme  

Do you need help applying for ILR status? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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What is British citizenship?  

The key prerequisite to British citizenship is that you have lived in the UK legally for many years and that within the last 12 months of your application, you were awarded ILR status. Alternatively, if you originate from the EEA, you may be able to switch from Settled Status onto British citizenship as the EU Settlement Scheme is largely the same as ILR.  


What are the British citizenship requirements? 

You must: 

  • Be over 18 to apply 
  • Have spent at least 5 years of continuous residence in the UK 
  • Have spent no more than 450 days outside of the UK 
  • Have had ILR status for 12 months 
  • Pass an English language test 
  • Pass the Life in the UK test 
  • Prove you are of ‘good character’ 
  • Prove you have not broken any laws or immigration rules  

How can Birmingham Immigration Lawyers help?

Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we can assist you throughout your immigration journey in the UK – from your initial visa to full UK citizenship.

Switching from a UK Visa onto a permanent status can be a lengthy, and stressful, process. The requirements are far more stringent and therefore the application is harder to fulfil.

Let our immigration lawyers share the burden of the paperwork. Our lawyers can assist you with comprehensive application support as well as general advice.

Call our team on 0121 667 6530 or fill in our contact form to book an appointment.

We can help you with any UK Visa application. Call us now

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