Indefinite Leave to Remain for Spouses After Five Years

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Indefinite Leave to Remain, Partner & Family Visa, UK Immigration, UK Settlement

Spouses, civil partners, or unmarried partners of British nationals or settled persons can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (also known as settlement or ILR) up to 28 days before completing 5 years in the UK as a partner, provided they have been granted leave under the same route.

This post discusses the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a spouse after 5 years in the UK.

The fee for an ILR application is £2,885. For expedited processing in one working day, the Home Office offers a super-priority service, which is available at an additional cost of £1,000.

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Indefinite Leave to Remain is an immigration status granted to non-British nationals, allowing them to stay in the UK permanently. This status provides many benefits, including the right to work, study, and access to public services without the restrictions typically associated with temporary visas. For family members of British citizens or settled persons, obtaining ILR is a significant step towards securing a stable and permanent future in the UK, in addition to being a prerequisite for British Citizenship by Naturalisation

Requirements for ILR as a Spouse or Partner 

The requirements for ILR ensure that only those with a genuine connection to a British citizen or settled person can apply. Applicants must demonstrate that they are in the UK with valid leave as a partner and that they:

  • Are in a genuine and subsisting relationship, applicants must be the spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner of a British citizen or someone with settled status in the UK
  • Have adequate accommodation for themselves and their family
  • Meet the financial requirement
  • Have demonstrated English proficiency to the required level
  • Have passed the Life in the UK test 
  • Meet the suitability requirements, meaning there is no reason to refuse the application due to a serious criminal conviction, debt or breach of immigration law
  • Have completed a qualifying period of continuous residence of 60 months in the UK as a partner
  • Intend to live with their partner permanently in the UK.

Residence Requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Spouse or Partner

To obtain ILR as a spouse or partner, you must prove to the Home Office that you have lived in the UK for the required period, typically 5 years for those with leave granted as a spouse/partner under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. This period must be spent on the partner visa, and time on other visa types or with different partners cannot be included.

Although there is no specific absence requirement, you must demonstrate that you have always intended and continue to intend to live with your partner in the UK. If you have spent significant time outside the UK, you must provide “good reasons” for these absences, such as work commitments, holidays, training, or study, and show that these reasons align with your intention to live together permanently in the UK.

Each case is judged on its merits, considering the reasons for travel, the length of absences, and whether the applicant and partner travelled and lived together during these times.

Financial Requirement for ILR as a Spouse or Partner

On 11 April 2024, it was announced that the minimum income requirement for Partners under Appendix FM was increased from £18,600 to £29,000. However, transitional financial requirements were introduced for applicants who had made their first application as a partner before the increase and were granted permission under the 5-year route to settlement. 

The transitional arrangements allow applications submitted before this date to be assessed against the previous threshold. The specific requirements are:

  • £18,600 for a partner with no children
  • £22,400 for a partner with one child
  • £24,800 for a partner with two children
  • £27,200 for a partner with three children
  • £29,000 for a partner with four or more children.

These requirements do not apply to children who are British or Irish citizens, have pre-settled status, or are permanently settled in the UK.

To benefit from the transitional financial requirements within Appendix FM, the relevant guidance states that an applicant must have:

  • permission as a partner on the five-year route to settlement, or as a fiancé or fiancée or proposed civil partner at the date of application
  • made their first application as a fiancé or fiancée, proposed civil partner or as a partner before 11 April 2024 
  • been granted permission as a fiancé or fiancée, proposed civil partner or as a partner as a result of that application
  • be applying for permission to stay with the same partner for which they were last granted permission.

Those applying on or after 11 April 2024 who do not meet the criteria set out above, must meet the increased threshold of £29,000.

How We Can Help

Our experienced immigration firm is here to provide expert guidance and support for your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. 

Contact our friendly professional team on 0208 757 5751 or use our contact form

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a decision on my ILR application?

The processing time for ILR applications can vary. Standard applications typically take around six months, while premium service applications can be processed within 24 hours.

How soon can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Spouse?

You may apply up to 28 days within the date of completion of 5 years of residence in the UK.

Do I need to renew my ILR status?

No, ILR status does not need to be renewed. However, if you leave the UK for more than two years, you may lose your ILR status and need to reapply.

Can I include my children in my ILR application?

Yes, you can include dependent children under the age of 18 in your ILR application or those who were under 18 when first granted leave under the same route and are yet to form an independent life, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

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