Skilled Worker Settlement (ILR) in the UK – How to apply

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Indefinite Leave to Remain, UK Immigration, UK Settlement

Indefinite Leave to Remain, or UK settlement, grants an applicant the right to live and work in the UK without immigration restrictions. Generally, this means having spent five continuous years in the UK with lawful status and without excessive absences. With indefinite leave to remain, you can remain in the UK on an indefinite basis, free from restrictions on travel and immigration. You can work and study and also claim public benefits. You can also leave and re-enter the UK without needing to secure a visa and be joined by your family. ILR does not allow you to vote in the UK or apply for a British passport. ILR can also be lost if you are absent from the UK for more than two years or facing deportation after a conviction.

Since 1 December 2020, Tier 2 (General) Migrants are now called Skilled Workers. The same Immigration Rules apply to people under both of these categories. To qualify for settlement as a Skilled Worker, you must prove that you meet certain validity, suitability and eligibility requirements. This post explores the requirements, supporting documents and how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

Requirements for Skilled Worker Settlement

The requirements for this route are found in a new part of the Immigration Rules known as Appendix Skilled Worker. They consist of the following:

Validity Requirements for Settlement as a Skilled Worker

You must be in the UK on the date of application, and you should not leave the common travel area whilst the application is pending, or it will be treated as withdrawn. 

For your application to be valid, you must provide a passport or other travel document to prove your identity and nationality.

You can only apply if you were last granted permission as a Tier 2 (General) or Skilled Worker. A person applying for settlement as a Skilled Worker must apply by making a valid application online on the website on the specified form SET(O). You must pay the Home Office application fee of £2,404 per applicant. 

You must provide your biometrics information (fingerprints and photograph) by attending a UKVCAS centre in the UK. 

An application that does not meet the validity requirements for settlement as a Skilled Worker is invalid and may be rejected and not considered.

To discuss your Settlement Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on 0208 757 5751 or complete our contact form

Suitability Requirements for Skilled Worker ILR

You must apply before your visa expires to avoid breaching any Immigration laws. In addition, you must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal. This will consider your personal and immigration histories such as criminality, unpaid debt to NHS, failure to provide the required information, false representation grounds and more. If there are any concerns, you should seek immigration advice before applying. 

Eligibility requirements

You must prove that you have spent 5 years in the UK continuously. The 5-year qualifying period can include time spent on any of the following routes:

  • Skilled Worker (including Tier 2 (General)); or
  • Global talent (previously, Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)); or
  • Innovator; or
  • T2 Minister of Religion (previously, Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)); or
  • T2 Sportsperson (previously, Tier 2 (Sportsperson)); or
  •  Representative of an Overseas Business; or
  • as a Tier 1 Migrant, other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant.

You cannot combine time spent as a Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) Migrant towards the 5 years needed to settle as a Skilled Worker. 

You must meet the continuous residence requirement in the Appendix Continuous Residence. It means that you must have spent the whole 5 year period lawfully in the UK on one of the above routes. 

You must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 months spent on a visa granted on or after 11 January 2018. For visas granted before 11 January 2018, you must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days during any consecutive 12-month period ending on the same date of the year as your application for ILR.

In certain circumstances, the 180-day limit will not apply, such as assisting with a national or international humanitarian crisis overseas, travel disruption due to a disaster or pandemic, compelling and compassionate circumstances and certain research activities undertaken as a Skilled Worker. 

Please note that time spent lawfully in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man is treated as time spent in the UK if your last grant of permission was in the UK. 

If you have excessive absences and do not fall within the above exceptions, you will need to consider whether to delay your application until you can meet the 180-day rule. This may mean making an additional extension application before you can meet the requirements for settlement.

To meet the Knowledge of life in the UK requirement (KOL UK) for settlement as a skilled worker, you must take the Life in the UK test. There are no English language requirements for this category.

There is only one salary requirement you must earn at least £25,600 per year and the going rate for your occupation code. 

The only exceptions are if your role is a shortage occupation, a health or education occupation, or if your 5-year qualifying period includes time in occupation codes 2111, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2119, 2150, or 2311. Then special rules apply, and you must earn a salary of at least £20,480 per year and the going rate for your occupation code as specified in various places in the Rules.

Settlement Application Documents

There have been considerable changes to the documentary requirements for Settlement as a Skilled Worker in the Immigration Rules. And references to having to “evidence” how the applicant meets the different requirements have disappeared. 

However, it is important to note that the document list which appears at the end of the online application form remains unchanged. Therefore, even though certain documents are no longer mandatory documents, it is advisable to include them along with your application. The documents required in support of your application will depend on your circumstances. Depending on your situation, some of the documents which you will need to provide include:

  • Current and previous passports used to travel to or remain in the UK;
  • Evidence of UK Immigration status in the form of a current Biometric Residence Permit (BRP);
  • Evidence of employment, including a letter(s) from employer(s), payslips and bank statements showing wages being deposited;
  • A letter from the sponsor who issued the certificate of sponsorship (who is still approved by the Home Office to sponsor Skilled Workers on the date of the decision) that led to your last permission to stay a Tier 2 migrant, specifying that you are still required to work for them for the foreseeable future; 
  • Letter(s) from employer(s) detailing reasons for work-related absences. 

UK Settlement Advice

Our immigration advisers regularly assist foreign nationals in relocating and settling in the UK with their families. The financial requirement rules are complex and include mandatory requirements in the documentary evidence that must be provided to demonstrate access to the relevant funds. Failure to demonstrate that you meet the settlement Visa application criteria may result in the application being delayed or even refused. 

Our UK Settlement Visa lawyers can provide a no-obligation assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Settlement Visa or professional advice or assistance with preparing a Settlement Visa application. 

At Whytecroft Ford, we know that accurate and timely advice could make all the difference in the world. We are a highly driven professional team that provides clear and reliable immigration advice to individuals applying for a UK Settlement Visa. We apply our extensive knowledge and expertise to meet our client’s needs.

Frequently asked questions

Does a skilled worker visa lead to settlement?

Yes, per the same Immigration Rules (Appendix Skilled Worker) the Skilled Worker category allows applicants and dependants to permanently settle in the UK after a continuous residence period of 5 years.

What is the minimum salary for a Skilled Worker Visa?

Under the Skilled Worker visa (previously Tier 2 (General) visa), applicants/workers will be required to earn a minimum salary of £25,600 per year unless the role applied for is included in the occupation shortage list or the applicant/worker has a relevant PhD, in which case the minimum salary is reduced to £20,480

Can a skilled worker apply for ILR?

Skilled Worker migrants can apply for settlement, i.e. for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) after having spent 5 continuous years lawfully in the UK, of which the most recent period has been spent with leave as a Skilled Worker.

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