Indefinite Leave to Remain lets you work and live in the UK without immigration restrictions. It is also a way to become a British citizen and can be used as a direct route to naturalisation.

If you want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you need to use the correct ILR form. Applying for ILR is often a very complex process. You should make sure that you meet the ILR requirements before you apply, to make sure you are not disappointed and you don’t lose out on your fee.

This ILR application process guidance has been put together to help you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. It includes steps on how to make a successful application.

how to apply for indefinite leave to remain

Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 1) — make sure you meet the requirements

ILR is available for people who are from outside the EEA, and are currently residing in the UK with a type of ‘ILR visa’. This can be several types of UK visa, including Tier 2 Work Visas, Spouse/Partner Visas, and Tier 1 Visas.

According to the continuous residence requirement, applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain must live in the UK with one of these visas to be eligible. There are different qualifying periods which vary depending on which visa type you apply from.

The continuous residence requirement can be impacted if you leave the UK for too long. If you are absent for more than 180 days in total in any 12 month period, you will breach the continuous residency guidelines. When this breach is caused, your timer is ‘reset’, meaning you must start building up your time again. For this reason, it is important to avoid leaving the UK for longer than 180 days in one year.

You also need to be a lawful resident of the UK during the time you spend in the UK. This means that you can’t have spent any time without a valid visa and without valid leave to remain. You also can’t have been classed as an overstayer during this time.

As well as residence, you also need to show that you have sufficient understanding and knowledge of the English language and life in the UK (also known as KoLL). To demonstrate this, you also need to:

  • pass your life in the UK test and English language test;
  • be a national of an English-speaking country like the U.S or Australia; or
  • have an approved UK degree that was taught/researched in English.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 2) — fill out the right application form

There are two types of application form you can complete when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The correct one you need will depend on the visa category you are switching from.

The two ILR forms are SET (O) and SET (M).

Form SET(O) is used by people on most visa types — such as Tier 1 or Tier 2 Visas. SET(M) is the form for people who are applying as the partner, parent or child of a person who is already settled in the UK/a British citizen.

You can apply for Indefinite Leave online, in the majority of cases.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 3) — gather your documents

For an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must submit your passport and information for all dependants who apply with you. You should also submit your biometric information if you have this.

You may be asked to provide any of the following documentation. Please be aware that this list is not exhaustive. Depending on how complex or unique your case you may be asked to provide further supporting evidence:

  • Your passport and any additional travel documents you have
  • Birth certificates or adoption papers for any dependents applying with your application
  • Police registration certificates and history of your criminal record
  • Proof of your finances, to prove that you are able to continue supporting yourself (this could be wage slips or bank statements)
  • Proof that you meet the English language requirements and have passed the Life in the UK test
  • If you have been absent from the UK, evidence to show why this is and to show that it doesn’t breach the continuous residency requirement
  • Two passport photos, in colour: these should have the corresponding names of each applicant written on the bank

All documents submitted with your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain should be originals and not copies.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 4) — pay the ILR fees

The UKVI fee for single applicants, without dependents, os £2389. Per each dependant who is applying with you, you must add £50.00 per person.

If you use the premium services, the fee changes to £2,999 per single applicant.

There is an extra cost for anyone who needs to meet the KoLL requirement (this is most applicants), of £50.00. This is used to pay for the ‘Life in the UK’ test. You can book this test online at least three days in advance.

You will usually also need to pay the fee of £19.20 for your biometric information — this can be done at your local Post Office branch. If you use a premium service, this cost will be included with your full application fee.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 5) — biometric enrollment and information

Once you have submitted your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must submit your biometric information. This involves you giving your fingerprint, a digital photograph and your full signature.

This information is used by UKVI to create your biometric residence permit. This will be sent to you when your Indefinite Leave to Remain application is approved.

Your biometric residence permit can be used to show that you have a right to work and study in the UK, as well as use public health services and benefits. It can also be helpful when buying property, taking out loans and filling out any other official documents. When you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, you have the same rights as UK citizens so you can access the same health and welfare services as they can. However, this can be stripped and revoked if it is abused — as it is not the same as full British citizenship.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Stage 6) — the interview process

If your application is particularly complex, you may be asked to attend an interview. The Indefinite Leave to Remain interview requires you to discuss your supporting documents or give further information required by UKVI.

Interviews are necessary if there is a gap in some of your supporting evidence or an issue with the circumstances of your application. An application for Indefinite Leave to Remain can be complex and time-consuming. This is because, if you are accepted, you will be allowed unrestricted access to the UK.

What are the ILR processing times?

The processing time for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications can vary, and depends on how complex your case is.

The longest cases take up to 6 months, and the quickest can take around 6 weeks.

If you opt for the premium application service, which requires you to attend a meeting in person at a premium service centre, you can get same-day consideration.

When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain can be time-sensitive because you must apply before your current visa expires. If you fail to do this in time, you will be considered an overstayer and could risk your application. Once you have submitted an application, you will be allowed to stay in the UK after your visa ends, until you receive the result of your ILR application.

Despite this, you shouldn’t apply any more than 28 days before your visa expires. If you do, you could risk having your application refused, which means you would not get your fee back and would have to pay to make a fresh application.

You can risk having your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain refused if you have overstayed in the UK before making it. In some circumstances, you could be allowed a brief period of overstaying provided there is a good reason for this. This could be that a relative was unexpectedly ill or that you had an unpreventable health emergency.

It is important to make sure you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in good time, to avoid overstaying, refusal of your application and possible prosecution.

How can we help you with your ILR application?

With immigration lawyers around the UK, and two offices in the capital hosting our London immigration solicitors

we are positioned to help you with advice or application support if you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Our experienced lawyers offer bespoke services, which are tailored around you. They can take care of your entire application for you. They will gather and organise your supporting documentation, write a Letter of Representation on your behalf and complete and fill out your application forms. Call us on 0333 414 9244  or make an enquiry using the contact form to request a free callback.

Find out more about ILR

Request a free callback

Make an enquiry