Overview of Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is the UK’s term for long-term permanent residence. In most cases, applicants will be able to apply for ILR after spending 5 years of qualifying residence in the UK.
However, it’s important to note that there are a few rules and restrictions to this 5-year rule. These include how long you can spend abroad away from the UK and limitations on switching your visa to another one during this 5 year period, among others.
In addition, there are some exceptional circumstances that will allow time spent outside of the UK to count towards your 5 year residency requirement.
There are also some visas that may allow you to apply for ILR in less time than the standard 5 year period.
After spending 12 months in the UK with IRL, you will then be able to apply for British citizenship.
- Overview of Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Which Visas Count Towards Indefinite Leave to Remain?
- Which Visas Allow for ILR after Less than Five Years?
- What are the Requirements for Continuous Residence?
- What are the Exceptions to the Continuous Residence Rule?
- What are the Other Eligibility Requirements for ILR?
- How Do I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
- How Can IAS Help?
Which Visas Count Towards Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years?
Most UK visas will require you to spend a minimum of 5 years in the UK before you can become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
The following UK visas all have a 5 year requirement for ILR applications:
- Tier 2 (General) visa
- Minister of Religion visa (T2)
- International Sportsperson visa
- Skilled Worker visa
- Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa
- Family visas, including Spouse visa and Fiancé visa
- Ancestry visa
If you are looking to get Indefinite Leave to Remain in an even shorter time, certain visas may allow you to apply for ILR for a period of qualifying residence that is less than 5 years. Most visas in that category are for investors, business people and individuals of exceptional talent. We have discussed the specific visas in the next section as well s how to apply for ILR in five years or less.
Note that it’s not every UK visa that allows you to apply for ILR after just five years or less. A few other visas/permits, including Long Residence, require 10 years of qualifying residence.
All candidates in the UK on the Innovator visa may apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years.
Global Talent Visa
Candidates who qualified for the Global Talent visa because they won an eligible award may apply for ILR after three years.
In addition, candidates may apply for ILR after three years if they were endorsed by any of the following:
- The British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society or UK Research and Innovation
- Arts Council England or Tech Nation – this must be as a recognised leader (‘exceptional talent’)
The residency requirement for the Entrepreneur visa depends on how much candidates have grown their business.
Candidates can apply for ILR after three years if they’ve either:
- Created the equivalent of 10 new full-time jobs that existed for 12 months
- Generated £5 million business income in 3 years
If you successfully applied for your Investor visa on or after 6 November 2014, you can be eligible for ILR after two years if you’ve invested at least £10 million, or after 3 years if you’ve invested at least £5 million.
You must have invested these funds in share capital, loan capital or UK government bonds in active UK companies within 3 months of your investor start date.
If you successfully applied for your Tier 1 (Investor) visa before 6 November 2014, the amount of time you will need to qualify for ILR will depend on your level of investment.
You can be eligible for ILR after two years if your level of investment is worth at least £10 million in cash, £20 million in personal assets, or £10 million from loans from a UK-regulated financial institution.
Meanwhile, you can be eligible for ILR after three years if your level of investment is worth at least £5 million in cash, £10 million in personal assets, or £5 million from loans from a UK-regulated financial institution.
What are the Requirements for Continuous Residence?
In order to become eligible for indefinite leave to remain, the time you spend in the UK must adhere to rules regarding qualifying unbroken continuous residence.
Qualifying unbroken continuous residence means that the time you spent in the UK must have been within immigration rules, within the validity of your visa, and not have exceeded the maximum period of time for absences.
In some cases, you can only use the time spent in the UK on one specific visa to count towards your residency requirement.
The maximum period of absence you can take away from the UK is 180 days in any 12 month period.
Spending more than 180 days away from the UK in any 12 month period means that your period of residency in the UK will become ineligible for indefinite leave to remain. Only full, whole days away from the UK will be counted towards this limit.
In addition, your qualifying period of residence will be considered to be broken if any of the following apply:
- You’ve been convicted of an offence and sentenced to a period of imprisonment
- You’ve been subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or exclusion direction
- You’ve lost your permission to stay in the UK
You may include the period of time between when you were issued entry clearance and you entered the UK in your period of qualifying residence. However, this cannot exceed 90 days.
What are the Exceptions to the Continuous Residence Rule?
There are some situations where absences from the UK will not count towards the 180 day rule.
These are mostly either compassionate, serious or compelling reasons, or employment reasons that relate to your visa or immigration employment route. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Time spent assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas
- If you’re on an immigration route that requires sponsorship, the absence would have to have been agreed with them beforehand
- If your travel plans were disrupted due to a natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic
- Compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as life-threatening illness of you or a family member, or death of a close family member
- Research activity undertaken abroad by a Skilled Worker that was approved by their sponsor and where the applicant was sponsored for a job in one of the eligible occupation codes
- Certain research activities undertaken by those on the Global Talent route
In most cases, you will need to make a request for your absence to be exempt from the 180 day rule.
If the reasons for your absence were employment related, you should obtain proof of this through your employer. Any proof should ideally outline the reasons for your absence and verify that it was approved through the employer.
If the reasons for your absence were based on compassionate, serious or compelling reasons, you must provide proof of this in order for the absence to not count towards the 180 day rule.
For example, this may be in the form of death certificates, medical notes, or evidence of travel disruption.
What are the Other Eligibility Requirements for ILR?
As well as the continuous residence rule, there are other general criteria that you must meet in order to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain after five years.
- Not having any immigration related convictions or violations during your time in the UK
- Passing the Life in the UK Test
- Proving that your knowledge of the English language is at least B1 on the Common European Framework of Languages
In addition to these, there will also be other eligibility criteria that are only specific to the particular type of visa that you’re on.
For example, if you’re applying for ILR on an Innovator visa, one requirement is for you to obtain a new endorsement that shows you’ve met the requirements for growing your business.
Meanwhile, candidates applying for ILR on an Ancestry visa must prove their ability and intention to work in the UK, have enough money to support themselves and their dependents, and still be a Commonwealth citizen at the time of applying.
It’s important to carefully check the requirements for your specific visa to see if there are any additional eligibility criteria you must fulfil before applying for indefinite leave to remain.
How Do I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain After Five Years?
You will need to apply for indefinite leave to remain online. Before you do so, ensure you are on a visa that qualifies you for the five-year requirement.
There are two application forms for indefinite leave to remain. Form Set (M) is for partners, parents or children of people who are already settled in the UK or British citizens. All other applicants will need to fill in Form Set (O).
The information you will need to supply on your indefinite leave to remain application form will vary depending on which immigration route you are applying from.
However, generally speaking, all applicants will need to provide the following supporting documents when applying for ILR:
- Current valid passport or travel document, as well as expired passports or travel documents
- Birth or adoption certificate
- Travel details or documents detailing time spent outside the UK
- Details of your immigration history
- Police registration certificate or criminal background check
- Details of your personal finances
- Life in the UK Test pass certificate
- Proof of English language proficiency
It costs £2,389 to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Note that there may also be other costs involved. On average, applications are processed within 6 months, but you can get a decision quicker with priority service.
How Can IAS Help?
Indefinite leave to remain is one of the most complex, in-demand and important immigration routes for foreign nationals who wish to settle in the UK permanently and build a life here.
If you wish to be one of the tens of thousands of people who have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK each year, IAS can help.
We offer full, comprehensive and professional legal services that are tailor made to help people like yourself successfully apply for settled status and start new lives in the UK. We can help guide you through every step of the process and give you bespoke guidance appropriate for your own personal situation.
Whether you need assistance with the ILR application process, help in calculating your period of continuous residence or advice on how to maximise your chances of getting your application approved, we’re here to help.
We can also provide assistance if you wish to apply for British citizenship and a British passport after you successfully settle in the UK.
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