Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) lets foreign nationals live and work in the UK free from immigration restrictions.
This status may lead to citizenship or British naturalisation. For this reason, to be eligible, you must meet specific Indefinite Leave to Remain conditions.
Applying for ILR can be an elaborate process. You must ensure that you complete every relevant application form and that you meet the mandatory requirements. The most critical Indefinite Leave to Remain condition of stay concerns spending a specific amount of time in the UK.
Our immigration experts have produced a detailed overview of the requirements you need to meet to get Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. However, we still recommend getting in touch with one of our advisers, who can offer you bespoke advice and help you get your ILR in the UK.
Conditions to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain: Residence in the UK
- UK Residency Requirements
One of the principal conditions to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain is to spend a set amount of time in the UK. Depending on your immigration visa, you can stay in the country for several purposes, such as employment, study, or as a dependent.
Before applying for ILR, you must have been continuously resided in the UK for at least 5 years before your request.
It is important to note that the time spent in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man does not count toward your qualifying period.
- Allowed period of absence
“Continuously residence” refers to a period when you spend no more than 180 days outside the UK in a consecutive 12-month period.
In most cases, the Indefinite Leave to Remain conditions of stay require you to live for at least 5 years in the UK before your ILR application.
You are still allowed to spend some time abroad, but it must be ascribed to the original purpose of your visa. For example, if you are on a Tier 2 Visa as a foreign worker, you can still take part in international business trips.
The UK immigration law grants you a period of allowable absences. You are required to keep written records of your travels. However, the following visa categories are exempt from providing reasons for their absences:
- Tier 1 Visa holders;
- PBS Dependants;
- UK Ancestry Visa holders.
Urgent and compelling circumstances, such as terminal illness, are accepted as allowable absences. They do not break your ILR continuous period, but they still count towards your 180-days limit.
- Continuous lawful period
Your continuous period in the UK must be lawful, meaning you must not have breached the Indefinite Leave to Remain conditions.
Your resident status in the UK is lawful if you:
- Have not spent any time in the country without valid leave to enter or remain;
- Can provide adequate evidence of your periods of absence from the UK;
- Have not taken employment abroad while in the UK on a work permit;
- Have not overstayed the maximum period indicated on your visa;
- Have not spent time in prison.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Conditions: Language and Life in the UK
Seeking an Indefinite Leave to Remain means meeting several conditions of stay. These include respecting the UK laws, traditions, and language.
If you are not a national of an English-speaking country, you need to demonstrate your proficiency in English. To this end, you can either provide evidence of a professional qualification that was taught or researched in English or sit in on an English test.
In this second case, you are required to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in at least CEFR Level B1 in speaking and listening.
To satisfy the knowledge of the British customs, you must pass the Life in the UK test.
You can book your test online at least 3 days in advance, and it costs £50. You have 45 minutes to answer all the 24 questions chosen from the ones you can find in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.
You may be exempt from this test if you are under the age of 19 or over 65 or if you have a long-term condition that can prevent you from sitting in on your exam.
You must score at least 75% to pass the test. If you fail it, you must wait 7 days before you can try it again. You can take the test as many times as you need to.
Indefinite Leave to Remain: conditions to stay in the UK
Once you obtain your Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can stay in the UK with no time limit. However, your status can be curtailed in certain circumstances.
One essential Indefinite Leave to Remain condition of stay is to be “ordinarily resident” in the country. This means you cannot spend more than 2 years outside the UK. If you lose your ILR after a long period of absence and you wish to re-enter the UK, you will need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa.
The UKVI can also revoke your status if you commit an offence that results in a period of imprisonment or deportation from the UK.
What are the Indefinite Leave to remain conditions to obtain British citizenship?
Applying for ILR is one of the steps to obtain British citizenship by way of naturalisation. To be eligible, you must retain your status for at least 12 months. However, if you are the spouse or the civil partner of a UK settled person, you do not need to wait, and you can apply to naturalisation as soon as you get your ILR.
To qualify for British Citizenship, you must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in any 12-months eligible period. In total, you must not exceed 450 days in 5 days. Otherwise, your qualifying period will start over.
Once your British citizenship is granted, you are not subject to any immigration rule. This means you can spend more than 2 years outside the UK without losing your status. However, your citizenship can be removed if it is found that you have lied on your application or if you are considered a threat to national security.
What are the conditions to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain for EEA and Swiss nationals?
If you are an EEA or Swiss national, you do not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. You can automatically obtain permanent residency after five years of residence.
You can also qualify for permanent residency if you are the family member of a qualified national as well. Both these paths may lead to British citizenship by naturalisation.
Do you have any questions about the conditions for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK?
If you need help to plan your route to the Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, one of our immigration solicitors is happy to support you.
Our team specialises in UK immigration and has experience in providing expert guidance to individuals who wish to settle in the UK. One of our legal advisers will follow your case working closely with you. Your lawyer can assess if you meet the Indefinite Leave to Remain conditions. Together you will find the best strategy to submit a successful application.