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How to Get UK Permanent Residence as a Nigerian

IAS can help you to secure Permanent Residency in the UK with our excellent package deal. This includes advice appointments, application guidance and appeals.

Simply contact us online today, or on +44 (0) 3316300929 (UK office) or +23413438882 (Nigerian office) to find out which steps you need to take to become a permanent resident of the UK with settled status.


Do You Need Help with Your Permanent Residence Application?

We have a proven track record of assisting numerous Nigerians in obtaining their Permanent Residence. If you’re looking to secure it and require guidance on how to get started, feel free to contact us for expert assistance. Allow us to handle the details and provide you with comprehensive support.

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For Nigerian emigration matters, please call +44 (0) 3316300929 or +23413438882

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For immigration/emigration to/from other countries, please call:

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What is Permanent Residence in the UK?

Permanent Residency (PR) in the UK allows immigrants to live, work and study in the country indefinitely.

PR does not grant British citizenship, which means permanent residents do not have a British passport, cannot vote and cannot hold public office. However, it is a pathway to UK citizenship.

Meaning Nigerians who have been settled in the UK with Permanent Residence for 12 months and have lived in the UK for five years are able to apply for British citizenship and also obtain a British passport.

Benefits of Permanent Residence

One benefit of Permanent Residence is that people with this status can bring their family members over to the UK by sponsoring them on a UK Family Visa. Individuals who want to make the UK their family home may choose to get PR in the UK as it can be the quickest way of achieving this.

Another benefit of Permanent Residence is that it allows Nigerian citizens to claim UK public funds to help with living costs. For example, permanent residents can claim Universal Credit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Other benefits of Permanent Residence include:

  • Being able to leave the UK frequently without being penalised
  • Saving money on UK visa applications
  • Paying reduced tuition fees due to being a ‘home student’ as opposed to an ‘international student’
  • Accessing free healthcare via the NHS

Who is Eligible for Permanent Resident Status in the UK?

The most common route to Permanent Residence is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status. This can be obtained by:

  • Being a family member of someone with ILR status or British citizenship status
  • Living and working in the UK on a Work Visa for five years
  • Living in the UK for 10 or more years (long residence)
  • Having previous ILR status
  • Being a member of the Armed Forces
  • Being a refugees or a person with Discretionary Leave/humanitarian protection
  • Having a UK Ancestry Visa and living in the UK for five years

Another option is to prove you have a right to abode in the UK. This applies to some Commonwealth citizens including:

  • Female Commonwealth citizens who married someone with a right to abode before 1 January 1983
  • People whose parent(s) had UK citizenship when they were born or adopted

There is also a scheme for EU citizens known as the EU settlement scheme. However, as Nigerian citizens are not EU citizens, they must follow either the ILR or the right to abode pathways.

ILR Eligibility Criteria for UK Work Visa Holders

The requirements for Permanent Residence differ according to which UK Work Visa you currently hold. We recommend speaking to a qualified IAS immigration lawyer on +44 (0) 3316300929 (UK office) or XXX (Nigerian office) to ensure you are eligible for Permanent Residence with your particular UK Work Visa.

Most UK Work Visa holders have to prove that they have lived in the UK for the past five years, though some visas only ask for 2-3 years. An awareness of British life must be demonstrated through a successful Life in the UK test. Some applicants must also prove that they meet certain salary requirements, but this is not the case for all Work Visas.

For example, Nigerians with a Skilled Worker Visa must have a salary of either £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’ for their role in the UK. They must also prove that they have lived in the UK for at least five years, as well as passing the Life in the UK assessment.

Compared to Innovator Founder Visa holders do not have to earn a particular salary to get ILR status, and only have to prove UK residence of three years (instead of five). However, they must prove that they have met the requirements for growing their business.

ILR Eligibility Criteria for UK Student Visa Holders

The UK is not currently permitting students to get ILR status based on having a Student Visa. There is no specific pathway for Student Visa holders to follow, and the time spent in the UK as a student does not count towards qualifying years in the country.

This means that Nigerian students in the UK must find another way to obtain ILR and stay in the UK after studying. If they have lived in the UK for ten years already, they need to apply for ILR on the long residence route.

Other students must find a suitable Work Visa and employment in the UK until they have completed their qualifying years before they can be granted ILR.

Millennium bridge in London

If you’re unsure of how to get permanent residence status in the UK, our immigration lawyers are ready to layout the best options for you.

ILR Eligibility Criteria for People With Family in the UK

Depending on your relation to the British family member, you will need to follow a different route.

People with a UK Family Visa and a spouse, partner, parent or child with UK settled status can make an application as a family member on the basis of holding a Family Visa.

Depending on the applicant’s relationship to a UK citizen or permanent resident, different information is required.

It is necessary to prove the relationship, whether through forms of identification (e.g., passports and birth certificates) or documents that demonstrate a genuine romantic relationship such as joint bills and photographs.

Spouses, partners, children and adult dependants can are able to apply for ILR status on the basis of being a named dependant on their relative’s Work Visa. In this situation, the UK permanent resident must have sufficient income to support their any dependants without claiming state benefits.

How to Get Permanent Residency in UK

To apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status as a Nigerian, you must prove that you meet the requirements of the specific route you are applying for. Whether you are opting for the Work Visa route or family sponsorship, make sure you meet with a lawyer to understand the relevant criteria.

As well as meeting the visa requirements, applicants must meet the general ILR eligibility criteria. This includes:

  • Passing a Life in the UK test about British history, culture and traditions
  • Proving that any time spent outside the UK in the qualifying period did not exceed 180 days within any 12-month period
  • Having no history of breaching immigration laws and no criminal record
  • Speaking English to a B1 level or above (according to the Common European Framework of Languages)

Anyone who passes all of the above criteria can make an application for ILR online.

To get help finding the right documents and providing the correct information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on +44 (0) 3316300929 (UK office) or +23413438882 (Nigerian office).

How to Apply for the Right to Abode in the UK

As Nigerian nationals are not eligible for the EU settlement scheme, they need to apply for ILR status or the right to abode.

Nigerians living in the UK can fill out Form ROA, which is a certificate of entitlement to live in the UK permanently. Applicants who are living in Nigeria must submit a separate form by selecting the country they live in and finding a local visa application centre (VAC) where a biometrics appointment will be held.

Glass building in central London

Which Documents are Required in the UK Permanent Residence Application?

The Right to Abode form (Certificate of Entitlement) asks for:

  • Two photographs of the applicant (taken within the past six months)
  • A valid passport or travel document
  • Specific evidence of obtaining the right to abode (e.g., naturalisation certificate or birth certificate/marriage certificate of applicant/applicant’s parent/applicant’s grandparent)

The ILR form requires:

  • Passport or travel document
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Information relating to any periods of absence
  • Proof of successful Life in the UK test
  • Accommodation details

Some applicants will also be asked to provide:

  • Evidence of English language competence
  • Proof of cohabitation
  • Information about any changes in circumstance
  • Police registration certificate
  • Birth certificates of dependants
  • Financial information
  • Medical letters for any disabilities or long-term health conditions

It is vital that all documents are provided, otherwise the application may be rejected by the Home Office. Any documents that are not in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic must come with professional translations.

IAS can remove the stress of this by ensuring you have all of your documents ready before the application is made.

We’re well versed in all areas of Nigerian emigration to the UK. Let us get your immigration case settled.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Permanent Residence in the UK?

To apply for UK certificates of entitlement for the Right to Abode, there is a fee of £372 from inside the UK and £388 from other countries including Nigeria.

To get ILR, it costs £2,404 for each application. Applicants requesting ILR for their whole family will have to pay this fee multiple times.

For Nigerian residents who need to build up qualifying years before getting ILR, there are additional costs to consider such as visa applications and visa renewals.

What is the Processing Time for Permanent Residence Applications in the UK?

It takes around six months for applications for the Right to Abode and ILR to be processed.

Applicants may pay for a faster decision. It costs £800 to get a decision by the end of the next working day using the Super Priority Service and £500 to have the application processed within five days via the Priority Service.

Applying for PR at certain times of the year can change the application processing time due to fluctuations in the volume of applications.

Delays are also possible if there are any unusual circumstances such as the criminality of the applicant or adverse immigration history. Any questioning of the authenticity of documents can also add to the processing time.

How Many Years Will it Take to Get Permanent Residence in the UK?

Most PR applicants have already obtained immigration status in the UK prior to submitting a PR application.

This means the total time to become a permanent resident is extended, as it includes their qualifying years spent in the country.

For example, someone on a Scale-Up Worker Visa may wait six months to receive their ILR status. However, they have already spent five years in the UK on their Work Visa. The total time it took to get ILR status would therefore be five and a half years.

Individuals who opt to apply for UK ILR on the basis of residing in the UK for a long time must wait around 10.5 years to get ILR. This accounts for the 10-year qualifying status and the average ILR processing time.

People who apply for Permanent Residence via the Right to Abode route do not have to spend a certain amount of time in the UK.

Consequently, they are able to gain Permanent Residence faster. They only have to take into account processing times, which means many people are waiting less than a year to get permission to live in the UK permanently.

Challenges of Getting Permanent Residence in the UK

One of the first challenges of getting Permanent Residency in the UK from Nigeria is deciding which route to take. Though not all routes will be suitable for everyone, many people have several options, and it can be tricky to weigh up the respective pros and cons.

It is necessary to research all of the possible options and identify any obstacles that could get in the way. For example, people applying for ILR as a dependant must ensure their family member approves of them coming to the UK and is in a position to provide financial support.

As some online information is outdated, it is wise to depend on trustworthy sources.

For example, the UK Permanent Residence card is no longer available and was used to provide EEA nationals with Permanent Residence, but it has been replaced by other schemes e.g., the EU settlement scheme.

The next challenge is the application process. It can be difficult to access all of the necessary documents for a Permanent Residence application and prepare them accordingly e.g., having back-up copies and getting translations.

How Can IAS Help?

Whether you are applying for a Right to Abode from Nigeria or ILR from the UK, IAS is trained in all areas of Nigerian emigration to the UK.

If you are concerned about any aspects of the application process, from finding the right visa route to making an appeal, our qualified immigration lawyers are ready to work with you to achieve your goal of accessing PR in the UK.

Get in touch with us online, at our Nigerian office +23413438882 or our UK office +44 (0) 3316300929 to start your journey, or continue your journey, towards UK Permanent Residence.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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