Indefinite Leave to Remain 

Indefinite leave to remain is also referred to as ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

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What is Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is an immigration status given to those permanently settled in the UK. With ILR, you no longer have any conditions on your stay and can work, study or engage in business without restrictions and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

ILR is a prelude to British Citizenship. If you are married to a British national, you can apply for Naturalisation immediately after acquiring ILR status. It is possible to lose your permanent resident status due to prolonged absence from the UK.

ILR Routes

Depending on the leave you have been granted, you can usually apply for ILR after the residential qualifying period.

We will focus mainly on the 5-year ILR requirements. There are several routes to ILR, such as:

Work Visa ILR

Generally, you can qualify for ILR with one of the following visa categories or routes:

  • Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General)
  • International Sportsperson or T2 Sportsperson
  • Representative of an overseas business
  • Global Talent or Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Turkish Worker or Businessperson vA privatevate servant in a diplomatic household with an International Agreement isa, or a domestic worker
  • T5 (Temporary Worker)

Nationality based ILR

Family Visa ILR

Apply for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain

You do not automatically qualify for ILR on completion of your continuous period of lawful residence in the UK. You must submit an application for ILR to Home Office UKVI for consideration. You will need to prove the following:

  • Continuous lawful residence in the UK for the required qualifying period of 5 years
  • You were not absent from the UK for a period exceeding 180 days per year. It is advisable to keep a detailed record of any absences from the UK over your qualifying period
  • Your knowledge of Life in the UK by passing the Life in the UK Test
  • You speak English to the required level
  • You do not fall under the General Grounds for Refusal – for example, addressing if you have any criminal convictions or breaches of your immigration status.

ILR Continuous Residence Requirement

Under the Immigration Rules, the continuous residence requirement requires applicants to have lived in the UK lawfully with the relevant permission and prove that they have not been absent from the UK unless for permitted reasons. This requirement applies to most work routes.

A period of absence is any time spent away from the UK while you are still in your qualifying residence period. You may not leave the country for more than 180 days in a calendar year. You will be required to present proof that explains your absences.

The Home Office UKVI will assess whether your continuous and lawful residence has been broken during the 5-year qualifying period, whether you have been absent for more than the allowed period and if any absences are for permitted reasons.

The Home Office may sometimes consider absences for severe or compelling reasons. Serious or compelling reasons will vary but can include:

  • serious illness of the applicant or a close relative
  • a conflict
  • a natural disaster, for example, a volcanic eruption or tsunami.

The applicant must provide evidence in the form of a letter which sets out the reason for the absence with documents of support. For example:

  • medical certificates
  • birth or death certificates
  • evidence of disruption to travel arrangements.

If the absences are connected to other employment outside the UK, which demonstrates that UK employment is secondary, these are not permitted absences, and the continuous period requirement is broken.

Absences due to employment, whether related to the applicant’s job in the UK or not, count towards the 180-day maximum each year.

Work Visa ILR Salary Requirement

ILR applicants may need to show they meet the relevant minimum income requirement, depending on what type of leave they currently hold.

For example, Skilled Worker visa holders who wish to acquire indefinite leave to remain in the UK are required to meet the minimum salary requirement by earning the higher of either:

  • £25,600 per year
  • £10.10 per hour
  • the ‘going rate’ for the role

In addition, they must satisfy the Home Office UKVI that they are required for their current employment for the foreseeable future.

Ancestry Visa applicants must provide proof of their employment or self-employment activities during their 5-years residence in the UK.

Family Visa ILR Minimum Income Requirement

You must demonstrate that you meet the minimum income requirement. In addition, you and your partner must usually have a combined income of at least £18,600 yearly.

You must prove you have extra money if you have children who are not British or Irish citizens, do not have pre-settled status, or are not permanently settled in the UK. If you need to provide extra money for your children, you’ll need to earn an extra £3,800 a year for your first child and £2,400 a year for each child you have after your first child.

You can use income from employment, non-employment income, or savings to demonstrate the minimum income requirement.

To illustrate the level of financial requirement with cash savings alone, you and/or your partner must have held at least £34,600 for a minimum of six months.

English Language Requirement

You can prove your knowledge of the English language for ILR requirements by

  • Having an English qualification at B1 CEFR level
  • Having a degree taught or researched in English
  • Being a national of an English-speaking country:
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • The Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Canada
    • Grenada
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • Ireland
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • USA

The requirement of English Language knowledge is exempt in cases when applicants are aged 65 or over or are unable to due to disabilities or are a citizen of countries they are exempt from.

The Life in the UK Test

Between the ages of 18 and 65, you must pass the Life in the UK test.

The Life in the UK test is a computer-based test made up of 24 multiple-choice questions covering British values, history, traditions and everyday Life in the UK. It costs £50 to take the test, and there are over 30 accredited centres where the test can be taken.

There is a time limit of 45 minutes to complete the test, and you will need to get 18 correct questions out of 24 (75%) to pass the test. You will get a Pass Notification Letter if you successfully pass your test.

There is a fee to take the test, and you must pay the fee for every attempt of the test you make, although you may take it as many times as you need to.

Documents for ILR Application

The documents you must submit will vary based on your visa category. In general, the documents you need to submit for a valid ILR application include

  • The correctly filled current version of the form. Most ILR application forms are now online
  • Payment of specified fees by one of the accepted payment methods
  • Valid passport or a national identity card or travel document for yourself and any dependents
  • Any old passport valid during your time in the UK
  • Birth or adoption certificates
  • A history of your immigration
  • Documents which account for any time spent outside of the UK during the qualifying period
  • Financial information, such as personal bank statements
  • The pass certificate of Life in the UK test
  • Pass certificate to prove the required level of English if not exempt
  • Photographs of yourself and any dependents
  • A police registration certificate if you were required to register with the police when you arrive in the UK
  • Other supporting evidence is based on your ILR route. Such as financial documents such as evidence of employment proof of meeting the minimum income requirement.

ILR Fees

As of 4 October 2023, the Home Office ILR Application fee is £2,885 per applicant. Other costs may include The Life in the UK Test and English Certificate.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain

Applications for Indefinite Leave are made using SET (O) or SET (M) forms online. Once you have submitted your online form, you can book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre, where you will submit your biometric information. You may also be invited to use the IDV app to verify your identity. If you submit your application through the app, you will not be required to attend a biometric appointment. Your supporting documents can also be presented during this appointment if you have not submitted them already online addition, you may be invited to an interview if the Home Office UKVI requires further information about you and your application.

ILR Processing Time

Decision times again vary according to the visa categories and the personal circumstances of your application. Applications that require further enquiries usually take longer to decide than the general timeline. UKVI also publishes processing times for indefinite leave to remain applications on their website, which can give you a general idea of how long your application might take.

General processing time is up to 6 months. Most ILR applications are decided in 8 weeks. It is possible to expedite specific ILR applications using super-priority service, which costs an additional £1000. With super-priority, your ILR application will usually be decided in 24 hours.

ILR for dependants

You may also submit an ILR application for your dependent family members, such as your husband, partner, and children. Dependents can include the following

  • Partner – spouse, civil partner or unmarried partners
  • Children that are younger than 18
  • Children who are above 18 have not yet formed an independent life.

British Citizenship after ILR

You may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship 1 year after being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If you are married to a British national, you may apply for citizenship sooner. However, whether British citizenship is suitable will depend on your circumstances, as there a quite a few differences between ILR and Citizenship.

How can we help

At WF, we are highly experienced in UK immigration. One of our expert immigration specialists can assess your eligibility and circumstances and ensure that you fulfil the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements. Call us to discuss your application at 02087575751 or use our contact form.

Frequently asked questions

How long is Indefinite Leave to Remain valid for?

There is no time limit on Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. However, you may lose ILR status if you spend more than two years outside the UK.

When is the earliest date you can apply for ILR?

You can apply for ILR within 28 days of the expiration of your leave or the end of the 60-month qualifying residential peri However, you must ensure that you apply you should apply before the end of your permitted stay in the UK.

Why choose Whytecroft Ford for your Immigration application?

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We offer a 15 minutes free immigration advice UK session to assess your eligibility for an immigration application. We can then advise you on the best course of action.

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We will clearly outline all fees associated with your application so that you can make an informed decision. There are no surprises during the application process.

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Our expert immigration advisors have many years of experience and have successfully assisted individuals and families to migrate and live in the UK.

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Our experienced team will help you get clear and concise advice for your UK immigration application with a no-obligation assessment. During this assessment, we will:

  • Assess the possibilities for obtaining, extending or switching into a particular UK immigration category, and
  • Identify any strengths and/or challenges of your circumstances concerning your new application.

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