Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

After living in the UK legally for consecutive years, you can apply for settlement – or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). 

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Applicants who have lived in the UK legally for a certain length of time, may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (“ILR”) in the UK (i.e. settle in the UK). Once you have indefinite leave to remain you have the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as you like.

Once you have been settled in the UK for a certain amount of time, which varies according to your circumstances, you can apply for British citizenship. There are different ways to apply for indefinite leave to remain according to your circumstances.

Once you have been granted ILR, you will be eligible to use public services such as healthcare without paying a surcharge, and you can apply for benefits and public pension. 

Once you have continued to live in the UK for 12 months after receiving indefinite leave to remain, you may qualify for British citizenship.

How we can help

With varying options and levels of complexity, you need someone who understands the different routes and the requirements of each. Herrington Carmichael’s experienced Immigration team can ensure your application is managed in a co-ordinated manner, with you kept updated every step of the way.

There are various routes, based on visas, that lead to ILR. Many of the have different requirements. Please get in touch if you are unsure of how to proceed with your application or would like assistance for peace of mind. 

Work Route
Family Route
Ancestry Route
Commonwealth

You may be able to apply for ILR if you have a work visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa, and have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years under this visa category. However, if you have a tier 1 visa, you could qualify after 2 or 3 years. If you have an Innovator Founder or Global Talent visa, you could qualify after 3 years.

Depending on your visa, there are specific salary or financial requirements that you need to meet. The following work visas fall under this route:

  •  Tier 2, T2, International Sportsperson or Skilled Worker Visa
  • Scale-up Worker visa
  • Global Talent, Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor Visa
  • Innovator Founder visa
  • represent an overseas business
  • Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa
  • private servant in a diplomatic household with an International Agreement visa, or a domestic worker

To be eligible under the work route, you must:

  • Have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years
  • Not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period during the qualifying 5-years
  • Meet the salary requirements
  • Continue to be needed in your job and continue meeting the salary requirements once ILR is granted – your employer will need to confirm this
  • Knowledge of language and life in the UK – you will need to pass the life in the UK test

You may be able to apply for ILR if you are in the UK as a partner/spouse or as a dependent and have been on this visa route for 60 months on the 5-year route. You can apply up to 28 days before reaching 60 months in the UK on this route.

To be eligible for ILR, applicants must show:

  • Spouses/partners are still in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner
  • The financial requirement is still met (same requirements as visa)
  • There is suitable accommodation available to them
  • They have had leave as a partner on the 5-year route, for 60 months
  • They meet the English language requirement
  • They have passed the Life in the UK test

You may be able to apply for ILR if you (and your dependants) have been in the UK  and on this visa route for 60 months on the 5-year route. You can apply up to 28 days before reaching 60 months mark.

To be eligible for ILR, applicants must show:

  • Spouses/partners are still in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their partner
  • The financial requirement are still met (same requirements as visa)
  • There is suitable accommodation available to them
  • Adults plan to, and can, work in the UK once ILR has been obtained
  • You are still a Commonwealth Citizen
  • You meet the English language requirement
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test
  • dependants who are over 18 when applying for ILR need to prove that they were under 18 when first entering the UK on the visa or do not live independent lives. They will need to pass the English requirement and pass the Life in the UK test.

Many Commonwealth Citizens are eligible for the Ancestry Visa which leads to settlement in the UK. 

Others, upon meeting specific criteria, may apply for ‘right of abode’ in the UK. This will result in you becoming a British Citizen without needing to follow any visa or ILR routes. 

Right of Abode FAQs

ILR FAQs

Do I need to pass the knowledge of life in the UK test?  

If you are between the ages of 18 and 64 when applying for ILR, you will need to book and pass the Life in the UK test. 

Will I need to meet the English Language requirements?

If you had to meet the English Language requirements as part of your visa application, you will not need to do so as part of your ILR application. 

What does it mean to spend 5 continuous years? What if I have travelled?

5 continuous years refers to the UK being your primary and permanent place of residence. In most cases, you must not have spent no more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12 month period.

If you are representing an overseas business or are a diplomat, you will need to ensure you meet this requirement before applying. 

When can I apply for ILR?

You can only apply a maximum of 28 days before you have been in the UK for 5 years on a qualifying visa. If you apply earlier, your application can be refused. 

Do not wait until your current visa expires. If it expires, you will need to reapply for your visa and then apply for ILR. 

How much does it cost?

The fees charged by Home Office can be found on their official website here

How long does it take to get a decision? 

You should get a decision within 6 months of applying. It may take longer if your application is complex. You can apply for the priority service to expedite your position.

Can I travel once I have applied for ILR?

You can not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you have received your ILR decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do. 

Can I pay to get a faster decision?

You can pay to get a faster decision for most of the work routes. Fees are as below:

  • Within 5 days: £500
  • By the end of the next working day once biometrics are received on a weekday: £1,000
  • 2 working days after providing biometrics if your appointment is on the weekend: £1,000
Do I need to redo my biometric information?

Yes. You will need to make an appointment to give your fingerprints and have a new photograph taken. This will be stipulated during your application process. 

Your appointment will be made at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. 

What is the best way to provide supporting documents?

You can either upload them onto the online service during your application, you can have them scanned at your biometric information appointment with UCVCAS, or we can assist with your application. 

What about my family members?

They can apply at the same time as you, or they can apply separately if they do not meet the eligibility requirements yet (if they have not been in the UK for 5 continuous years). 

You will need to meet similar criteria as with the visa application with the requirements for partners and children. Children over 18 can apply for ILR if they were under 18 when they first entered the UK as your dependent or if they do not live independently from you. If they are over 18 they will need to pass the Life in the UK test and meet the English language requirements. 

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