- ILR requirements
- Can ILR be rejected?
- Supporting documents
- How does the Life in the UK test work?
- Residency requirements
- Language requirements
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- ILR application form
- Visas on an ILR route
- Permitted activities
- How much does it cost to apply for settled status in the UK?
- Periods of absence
- ILR to British Citizenship
- Exempt from ILR
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residency (PR) is permission granted to individuals who would not otherwise be entitled to live in the United Kingdom (UK), but who have been issued with the freedom to live, work, study or work self-employed without visa restrictions.
In most situations, an individual can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years of continuous and lawful residence.
There are a number of different UK visa types that can lead to ILR. Once it has been obtained, a holder is able to reside in the UK free from immigration controls, and enjoy a number of the benefits available to a British citizen.
British Citizenship can be applied for once a person has had ILR for 12 months.
There are many requirements involved in applying for UK settled status, including language, residence, and character requirements. Applicants are also required to take a life in UK test to prove that they are eligible for the visa (unless exempt).
Contact our friendly and professional immigration lawyers today for an immediate discussion about applying for UK settled status.
Call 0121 667 6530 for support and advice.
What are the Indefinite Leave to Remain UK eligibility requirements?
The requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) are relative to each applicant’s individual circumstances, in particular the type of visa they hold.
The central eligibility requirement concerns the amount of time an applicant has been continuously and lawfully resident in the United Kingdom.
However, there are a number of additional requirements that must also be satisfied. To be eligible to apply, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have been a continuous UK resident for the relevant period of time
- During the qualifying period, you must not have spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in any 12 months
- You must have adhered to the immigration rules during your time in the UK. It is important that you do not have a criminal record
- You must have passed the Life in the UK Test- this is a series of questions relating to the history, customs and culture of the UK.
- You must hold a minimum B1 level of English language proficiency in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
With ILR forming such a pivotal step in the UK immigration process, having your application approved is of huge importance. However, it is important to recognise that rejections can occur for a number of reasons. Were you to be in this situation, there are a number of different options available to you:
- Appeal the decision
- Pursue a Judicial Review
- Pursue an Administrative Review
- Re-start the entire application process, ensuring that all previous mistakes are fully rectified
The notification of rejection you receive from the Home Office will state whether or not you have the right to appeal the decision or undertake an administrative review.
Were you to pursue a Judicial Review, the process is notably different. This usually forms the last attempt at reversing the Home Office’s decision. The procedure involved can be complex, as it involves an assessment of whether the Home Office’s decision was just and lawful.
Can you retake Life in the UK test?
If you fail to pass your Life in the UK test, you are permitted to retake it again in in seven days. There is no limit to the amount of times you can take the test.
You must have a valid Life in the UK test result to apply for ILR (unless you are exempt) .
What supporting documents will I require?
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain is a pivotal step in your journey towards becoming a British citizen. In order for your ILR UK application to be successful, there are a number of supporting documents you need to submit.
It is crucial that the documents you provide are original copies rather than photocopies. If this is not possible, you will need to explain why. The Home Office will be flexible if you have genuine reasons why original copies could not be accessed. You will be able to upload your documents electronically.
Ordinarily, the following documents will need to be submitted:
- Your immigration history
- Other important information relating to your specific visa category
- Your pass certificate from the Life in the UK test (if not exempt)
- Your pass certificate stating you have an English language proficiency level of B1 (if not exempt)
- Financial documentation that provides proof of the funds available to you. This can take the form of bank statements or payslips.
- Travel documentation relating to absences while you were resident in the United Kingdom
- Your current passport plus all other passports that were valid during your time in the UK
- A police registration certificate (if you have been asked to register with police upon arrival)
- Two identical passport-sized photographs- must be in colour and must have the applicant’s name written clearly on the back
Birth or adoption certificates (in situations where you are applying on behalf of dependants)
Sitting and passing the Life in the UK Test is a key element towards becoming resident in the UK.
The test is formed of 24 questions pertaining to the culture, customs and history of the UK. It is sometimes known as the British Citizenship test.
The test lasts for 45 minutes in total, and all 24 questions are randomly generated on the day. With this in mind, making sure you are adequately prepared is essential. To receive a pass, you must score a minimum of 75%.
You will need to book the test at least three days in advance. Booking costs £50 and should be done online. There are currently over 50 test centres in the UK- you are able to choose one of the five closest to where you are based. Were you to select a different test centre, you would not be able to sit the test nor would you be eligible for a refund.
You will only need to sit the test if you are between the ages of 18 and 65.
If you suffer from a long-term physical or mental condition and have written proof from a doctor, you will most likely be exempt from the test.
In order to book the test, you will need an email address, debit/credit card and an accepted form of ID. It is crucial that you bring some ID (such as a passport or driving licence) with you when you go and sit the test.
You should also bring a letter/document that states your address and is addressed to you. This document should be dated within three months of the test.
What are the ILR residency requirements?
The Indefinite Leave to Remain residency requirements are relative to your specific circumstances, notably the type of visa you hold. In most cases, a person must have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for at least five years in order to be eligible.
Five years of continuous residence applies to holders of the following visas:
- Fiance Visa
- Family Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Investor Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Spouse Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
There are certain situations in which ILR can be successfully applied for even if the five-year requirement has not been attained.
For example, holders of the Global Talent Visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after just three years of eligible residence in the UK.
Commonwealth citizens who have served in the Royal Armed Forces are eligible for ILR after only four years of continuous UK residence.
It is important to note that there are circumstances in which the ILR residency requirements exceed five years, an apt example being the requirements for Long Residence. Holders of a Long Residence Visa who are over the age of 18 need to accrue 10 years of continuous residence before being eligible for ILR. Those under the age of 18 must have been resident for at least seven years to become a British citizen.
What are the ILR English language requirements?
Demonstrating the required level of English language ability is also a key aspect of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You must obtain a minimum level B1 as certified by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
It is important that you obtain a pass certificate from your language test provider. This must be submitted as part of your supporting evidence portfolio.
It is important to note that applicants from certain countries will not need to satisfy the English language requirement. Applicants from Commonwealth/English-speaking countries tend to be exempt. These countries include:
- New Zealand
- St Lucia
- St Kitts and Nevis
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Trinidad and Tobago
It must also be noted that the English language requirement does not apply to holders of a degree or higher-level qualification in English. Other applicants who are exempt from this requirement are those over 65 and those who are under humanitarian protection.
Do I need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?
A BRP is a form of digital identification as opposed to a paper document. It contains details such as your name, fingerprints, date of birth and a digital photograph of your face.
It also contains information concerning your immigration status, such as your ability to access public funds/mainstream benefits and any conditions that are attached to your leave to remain.
When you apply for permanent residence, it is not necessary to obtain a BRP in advance. If you apply for ILR and it is successful, you will automatically receive a BRP.
Is there a specific application form that must be completed when applying for ILR?
There are two main forms relating to Indefinite Leave to Remain applications- Form Set (O) and Form Set (M). The form you need to complete depends on your specific circumstances.
Set M Form for indefinite leave to remain
If you are applying for ILR as either the partner or parent of someone who already holds UK Settled Status, Form Set (M) needs to be filled in.
You can view the form here.
Set O Form for indefinite leave to remain
For all other applicants, Form Set (O) is the form that needs to be completed. This applies to applicants on UK Ancestry, PBS Dependant, Business Development/Investor/ Talent Visas and Long-term Work Visas.
You can access the form here.
Which visas are on an ILR route?
If your settled status application is successful, there will no longer be any restrictions on your ability to work and study in the United Kingdom. You will be able to start your own business in the same way a British citizen can, and you will be able to study without having to meet the Student Visa requirements.
Your new immigration status will enable you to work in any role/industry, become self-employed, and undertake voluntary sector work. Possessing ILR also makes you exempt from any healthcare restrictions. You will have access to all forms of NHS healthcare and will not be charged.
ILR also provides you with the ability to access public funds, were this to be necessary.
What are the rules concerning travel outside of the UK for those with Indefinite Leave to Remain?
If you hold ILR, it must be noted that there are still restrictions on travel outside of the UK. Unlike those with citizenship, you are not completely free from immigration controls, and must adhere fully to the restrictions.
ILR holders are not permitted to spend more than two years outside of the United Kingdom. Were you to do this, you would be in serious breach of your status.
If you need support with any aspect of your ILR application, speak to our expert immigration lawyers about how we can assist you with obtaining your ILR status. Call 0121 667 6530 for immediate advice.
What am I able to do if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?
To be eligible for ILR, it is essential to hold a visa that can lead to a UK settlement Visa such as ILR.
Holders of these visas will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain once they have been continuously resident in the United Kingdom for the relevant period of time.
The types of visa that can lead to UK settlement are as follows:
- Discretionary Leave to Remain
- Long Residence
- Retired Person Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Sportsperson Visa (T2)
- Minister of Religion Visa (T2)
- Intra-Company Transfer Visa (T2)
- UK Ancestry Visa
- PBS Dependant Visa
- Fiance Visa
- Spouse Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
- Family Visa
It must be noted that there are other ways to apply for ILR in addition to the visa routes given above.
At present, the Indefinite Leave to Remain fee is £2,389.
You will be charged an additional £50 for each additional person you apply on behalf of.
If your ILR application needs to be processed as quickly as possible, a Fast-Track Application Service is available.
If you choose the fast-track option, you should expect to receive a decision on your application within five working days.
Your application will cost an extra £500 if it is fast-tracked.
It is also possible to opt for a super-priority service. Applicants who select this option will receive a decision within one working day. It costs £800.
What are the standard ILR processing times?
If you opt for neither the fast-track or super-priority application service, you ought to receive a decision on your ILR application within six months of its submission to the Home Office.
If you fail to submit the correct documentation, your application will take longer to process.
Is there specific guidance regarding periods of absence?
In order for your Indefinite Leave to Remain application to be approved, there are rules regarding absences that must be adhered to. To be eligible, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12-month period.
It is important to note that the reasons for your absence will be taken into consideration by the Home Office. If you leave the country for work/business reasons, this will not form part of your total qualifying absences. Neither will absences that are based on exceptional circumstances.
In order to guarantee you are eligible for ILR, it is advised that you keep a record of the amount of days you are absent in any 12 months during the qualifying period.
When can a spouse apply for indefinite leave to remain?
Under most circumstances, a Spouse Visa holder can transition to ILR providing that they have abided by the terms of their visa for five years.
Spouse Visas are granted for an initial period of 30 months. Once this period of leave comes to an end, a 30 month extension can be applied for. At the end of this extension period, the holder will be eligible for residence.
Is there an automatic transition from ILR to British Citizenship?
Indefinite Leave to Remain constitutes the penultimate step in a person’s journey towards British nationality.
It is important to note that whilst citizenship eligibility hinges on possessing Indefinite Leave to Remain for a minimum of 12 months, it is not automatically granted once the 12 months comes to an end.
British nationality has a seperate application process that must be followed once eligibility is secured. As with all other visa applications, the necessary supporting documents must be obtained and submitted alongside the application itself. Following these steps is the only way to become a British citizen.
Who does not need to apply for ILR?
There are certain circumstances under which a person can become settled in the UK without applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
For example, refugees who have reached the UK via the Gateway Protection Program are permitted to remain in the UK indefinitely with the same rights as those with Settled Status.
In addition, the children of those with citizenship or residence acquire citizenship automatically, meaning that ILR does not need to be applied for.
However, this is only the case if they were born in the UK and born after at least one parent had ILR or full citizenship.
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Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), sometimes known as Indefinite Leave to Enter is a form of permanent residence. This means that you will be able to remain in the United Kingdom without any restrictions if you hold ILR status. You can apply for British citizenship after you have spent one year living in the UK under ILR status.
Indefinite Leave to Remain differs from leave to enter in that the latter is a form of immigration permission granted to someone outside the UK. ILR, is a form of permanent residency for those who have already been living in the UK for a certain period of time.
In most cases, an overseas national will be eligible for ILR after they have spent five years lawfully living in the UK. However, it is possible to apply for ILR after you have spent three, or even two, years in the UK in certain circumstances.
Under most circumstances, ILR can be applied for after five years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK. However, there are certain situations in which it can be applied for sooner. For example, holders of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas can apply after just three years of continuous and lawful residence.
In contrast, Long Residence visa holders are only eligible after ten years.
After you have lived in the UK for one year under Indefinite Leave to Remain status, you will be eligible to apply for British citizenship.
If your citizenship application is successful, you will be entitled to the full benefits of British citizenship. This includes the opportunity to apply for a British passport.
Provided your circumstances haven’t changed significantly, you will be able to apply for a British passport around 12 months after you have received ILR.
Once you have become a UK permanent resident, you run the risk of losing your status if you spend more than two years abroad.
If the time you have spent outside the country does exceed two years, you may be permitted to re-enter on a Returning Resident visa. In order to be eligible, there are a few requirements that must be satisfied:
- Your travel outside of the country must not have been financed by UK public funds;
- You must have held settled status when you left the country;
- You must intend to become settled upon re-entering the country;
- There must be good reasons for you to be classed as a returning resident.
Before you begin your application, it is important to establish which form you need to submit. There are currently two types of form pertaining to ILR applications- Form Set (O) and Form Set (M).
The former should be used by those also applying on behalf of their dependents, the latter by all other applicants.
You must be residing in the UK at the time your form is submitted. It is also hugely important that you meet all other eligibility requirements, one of which being the Life in the UK Test, which examines your knowledge of the culture, customs and history of the UK.
You must also meet the English language requirements, providing you are not exempt.
When you apply for ILR, it is important that you do not have any unspent criminal convictions. If you do, your ability to successfully apply will be seriously compromised.
It is important to note, however, that the exact nature of the conviction (and the circumstances surrounding it) will be taken into account by the UKVI.
With regard to spent criminal convictions, there is still a sizable chance that your leave to remain application will be affected. However, the nature of your conviction will also be borne in mind in situations where it is spent. Getting in touch with an immigration lawyer will help you determine the extent to which your application will be affected.
To apply for a settlement visa, you must submit a settled status application to the Home Office. This currently costs £2,389 per person. For each additional person you apply on behalf of, you will need to pay an additional £50.
The fast-track and super priority application services cost an additional £500 and £800 respectively.
The current cost of obtaining a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is £19.20.
Those who applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the last few years will have received a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
Generally, the BRP’s given over the last few years to ILR holders expire on 31st December 2024. However, your permission to be in the UK will not expire on this date.
The Home Office intends to introduce new technology to replace the BRP, but details haven’t been released yet.
It is important not to confuse Indefinite Leave to Remain with further leave to remain. The latter is the term given to a temporary extension of an existing visa. For example, if a Skilled Worker Visa holder’s leave to remain ran out, they could apply for further leave to remain.
Further leave to remain does not mean that the person will have a right to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely, in contrast to Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
It is important to note that Visitor Visas cannot be extended beyond their original six-month timeframe. However, there are circumstances in which an individual can switch on to a different visa type.
ILR enables you to become permanently settled in the UK. It affords you the same rights as those with EEA Permanent Residence or EU Settled Status. ILR holders are able to stay in the UK for an indefinite period of time, and are free from many of the restrictions imposed on those with time-limited leave.
However, it still differs from British nationality in a number of ways. ILR holders are not permitted to apply for a British passport, nor are they permitted to leave the country for an indefinite period.
If you are not married to a British citizen, you must wait for 12 months to apply for citizenship after being granted ILR.
However, if you are the spouse of a British citizen, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalisation directly after you have been granted ILR. This means you do not have to wait 12 months to apply for ILR if you are married to a British citizen.
Children born in the UK to non-British parents may be entitled to British citizenship automatically, depending on the immigration status of their parents.
Since January 1 1983, to be granted citizenship, at least one parent of a child must hold settled status (or ILR).
Holding settled status or citizenship can be important in terms of your rights to live and work in the UK.
Depending on your situation, it may be important to register your child as a British citizen so that they can receive their rights and apply for a British passport.
Indefinite leave to remain is not the same as permanent residence (PR), but the two are related. Both ILR and PR mean that individuals can stay in the UK on a permanent basis, without restriction.
Previously, EEA citizens were able to apply for and may have been eligible for a PR document to certify this.
Since the changes to the immigration rules, EEA citizens living in the UK were required to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme or British citizenship (depending on their situation).
The new changes have meant that eligible EEA citizens would be granted either indefinite leave to remain (settled status) or limited leave to remain (pre-settled status).
Being granted refugee status in the UK means that you have five years of leave to remain. You are eligible to access work and housing, as well as accessing public funds. You may be eligible to apply for family reunification.
After holding leave to remain for five years, you can apply for ILR and after holding this for 12 months, you can apply for citizenship.
You are not permitted to stay outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period throughout the five-year qualifying period in order to qualify for ILR.
People who stay outside the UK for longer than this time may have their ILR application refused due to not meeting the criteria.
If you are unsure about whether you qualify based on time spent outside the UK, contact our immigration lawyers for a discussion about your situation.
We understand the immense importance of securing your future in the UK. Possessing Indefinite Leave to Remain is a central part of this- it lays the foundations for becoming a British citizen and enables a number of key benefits to be accessed.
Our exceptionally talented legal team are on hand to guide you through the process. We pride ourselves on doing everything within our power to remove the stress from proceedings, ensuring you receive the outcome you want. We have unrivalled experience in assisting with settled status applications.
If you opt for our services, you will receive:
- Assistance with the Life in the UK Test;
- Assistance with the English language exam;
- A complete document check to ensure that all necessary paperwork is in place;
- A Letter of Representation outlining the strengths of your application to the Home Office, drawing attention to relevant laws in support of your case;
- The completion of your application form to the highest possible standard;
- Frequent contact throughout the application process;
- An initial assessment to determine your eligibility;
- The submission of your application to the Home Office.