Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settled status open to non-EEA citizens who have spent time in the UK on a valid UK visa. Only certain types of visa can lead to ILR- these include Family Visas and Work Visas. Being eligible hinges on having lived in the UK for a certain period of time. Usually this is five years, however it can range from three to ten.
If the ILR requirements are met, you will be able to live, work and study in the UK free from time restrictions. Once you have held ILR for a year, you will be eligible to apply for British citizenship providing that all the other requirements are met.
To find out about the ILR requirements in more detail, get in touch today on 0121 718 7022.
What are the requirements for ILR?
In order for your Indefinite Leave to Remain application to be granted, there are a number of eligibility requirements that must be fulfilled.
It is essential that you fulfil the continuous residency requirement. To do this, you must have been continuously and lawfully present in the UK for a set period of time (this exact time period is relative to the type of visa you hold). In most circumstances it is five years, but not always.
There are also rules regarding periods of absence that must be followed. You must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12 consecutive months during the qualifying period.
The full list of ILR eligibility requirements are as follows:
- You must pass the Life in the UK Test;
- You must demonstrate that you have the required level of English language proficiency;
- You must meet the financial requirements- this involves demonstrating that you can support yourself and any dependants you are bringing to the UK with you. If applying via the Tier 2 route, you must be earning at least £35,000 per year.
- You must not have any previous criminal convictions for immigration offences.
It is vitally important that all of the information you provide to the Home Office is correct. If you have deliberately provided false information, you will no longer be eligible and may receive disciplinary action.
What are the ILR residency requirements?
A successful ILR application hinges on having been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for the required period of time. This period of time is known as the qualifying period.
Different types of visas have different qualifying periods. Most commonly, the Indefinite Leave to Remain qualifying period is five years.
See below for the full list of visa types and their qualifying periods:
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (now known as the Innovator visa)- three to five years
- Tier 1 Investor Visa– three to five years
- Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa- three years
- Tier 1 Innovator Visa– five years
- Tier 2 Visas– five years
- Spouse Visas– five years
- Unmarried Partner Visas– five years
- UK Ancestry Visa- five years
- Tier 2 Dependent Visa– five years
- Retired Person Visa- five years
- Long Residence- ten years
‘Long Residence’ refers to when a person becomes eligible for ILR because they have been legally resident in the UK for ten consecutive years. However, ILR can only be applied for if all of the other eligibility criteria are met.
If the other criteria are not met, you can still apply to stay in the UK for an additional two years.
Do I meet the ILR residency criteria?
In order to determine whether or not you meet the continuous residency requirement, you will need to calculate the amount of time you have spent in the UK.
This can be somewhat complex, as you will need to factor in all of the time you have spent outside the country since your leave to remain was first issued.
All of the time you have spent in the UK under an official visa route contributes towards the qualifying time. However, it must be noted that time spent in the Channel Islands or on the Isle of Man does not count towards the requirement.
To calculate whether you meet the requirement, you should count backwards from one of the following:
- The date your ILR status was received;
- The date your application was submitted;
- 28 days after your application was submitted.
Is anyone exempt from the criteria?
There are certain situations in which Indefinite Leave to Remain can be granted even if the residency criteria are not met or the full application is not completed. An example is refugees who have entered the UK via the Gateway Protection Program are granted automatic ILR. So too are dependent children of British citizens.
What are the rules regarding periods of absence?
When you calculate the length of time you have been in the UK in order to establish your ILR eligibility, you must take periods of absence into account.
Any time spent outside of the UK is classed as a ‘period of absence’. This is calculated on an annual basis.
In order to fulfil the residency requirement, you must not spend more than 180 days outside of the country in any 12-month period preceding your ILR application.
If your time spent outside the UK exceeds this limit, the requirement will not be met. In this situation, you will need to wait another year before reapplying and ensure that you meet the requirement.
The time you spend outside of the UK must comply with the conditions of your leave. For example, Tier 2 Visa holders are able to travel abroad for work purposes.
Which documents can be used to prove continuous residence?
There are a number of documents that can be used to demonstrate that you meet the continuous residency requirement. Some of these documents are as follows:
- Bank statements;
- Utility bills;
- Tenancy agreements;
- Mortgage documentation.
What are the ILR English language requirements?
In order for ILR to be granted, you will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary level of English language proficiency. You must attain a minimum of level B1 in accordance with the Common European Framework of Languages (CEFR). This must be for both speaking and listening.
The English language exams can be sat in a number of different places around the world. It must be taken with an accredited exam provider and at an approved SELT centre. To prove to the Home Office that you have passed, you should include your pass certificate within the supporting evidence for your ILR application.
Who is exempt from the requirement?
There are certain circumstances under which an applicant will not have to sit the English language test. For example, applicants from countries where English is the official language are exempt from the requirement. They just need to prove that they are from an English-speaking country.
Citizens from the following countries are exempt from the test:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Those with a degree or higher qualification that was taught in English at a recognised institution are also exempt from the requirement. You will instead need to show evidence of your degree to the Home Office.
The following individuals are also exempt:
- Adult dependants between the ages of 18 and 64 who are living in the UK with settled status;
- Victims of domestic violence whose spouse/partner has British nationality/settled status;
- The partner/spouse of a person who has died who had citizenship/settled status.
What does the Life in the UK Test involve?
The Life in the UK Test is a central element of the ILR application process. For ILR to be granted, you must submit proof that you have passed the test alongside your actual application form. This means you need to take the test before applying.
The test is formed of 24 questions pertaining to the culture, customs and history of the UK. The specific topics covered range from British cuisine to history.
You will have 45 minutes to complete the test. To pass, you will need to score a minimum of 75%- this equates to answering a minimum of 18 questions correctly.
The test must be booked at least three days in advance of it being sat. There are currently 30 test centres in the UK. Booking the test currently costs £50.
Those who are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 do not need to sit the test. A person may also be exempt if they have a permanent mental or physical disability that affects their ability to complete everyday tasks. If you take the test when applying for ILR, you will not need to re-take it if you go on to apply for British citizenship.
Where can I sit the test?
The Life in the UK Test can currently be sat in any of the following places:
You will receive an email that tells you what time to arrive at the test centre. Failing to arrive at the correct time may result in your test being cancelled. If this happens, you will not receive a refund.
Which ILR form should I submit?
There are currently two types of forms that are used in ILR applications. These are Form Set (M) and Form Set (O).
For Set (M) should be completed by those who are applying as the dependent partner or child of a person who is already settled in the UK.
Form Set (O) should be completed by all other applicants.
How much does the application cost?
As it stands, it costs £2,389 to submit an ILR application. Any dependents applying with you will be required to pay the same fee.
In addition to the cost of the actual application, there are a number of other costs that must be borne in mind. For example, the Life in the UK Test costs £50 and sitting an approved English language test usually costs £150.
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When you apply for ILR, there is a substantial amount of supporting documentation that needs to be submitted. The documents are used to demonstrate that you meet the ILR requirements- the specific paperwork you need to submit depends on which visa route you are applying through.
The following documents must be submitted in all ILR applications:
- Your current passport plus all others that have been valid during your time in the UK;
- Life in the UK Test pass certificate;
- English language exam pass certificate;
- Financial documentation that proves you have the required amount of funds available to you;
- Your immigration history;
- Two identical passport-sized photographs- must be identical and have the applicant’s name written clearly on the back;
- A police registration certificate- if you’ve been asked to register at a police station upon arrival in the UK;
- Travel documentation pertaining to all periods of absence during your time as a UK resident.
The other information you will be required to submit will depend on your specific visa category.
In order to move from ILR to British citizenship, it is essential that you have held ILR for at least one year. After this time, you can commence an application for British citizenship, providing you meet all of the other requirements.
Yes, there are certain situations in which ILR can be taken away. For example:
- If an ILR holder spends more than two years outside of the UK;
- If an ILR commits a crime/offence (this can result in deportation).
The financial criteria for ILR depends on the visa route through which you are applying. For example, if you are applying via the Tier 2 Work Visa route, eligibility is dependent on demonstrating that you earn at least £35,000 per year. If you are applying via the Spouse/Partner route, you must demonstrate that you and your partner have a combined income of at least £18,600.