ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK may be your first step towards British citizenship. To be eligible, you must meet specific requirements and submit extensive documentation about your status.
Since this application process may be complicated and it is time sensitive, it is advisable to seek expert guidance. In this guide, you can find a list of exhaustive answers to the most commonly asked questions about ILR and immigration in the UK.
If you have further doubts about your ILR application, you can get in touch with one of our expert immigration solicitors.
What is ILR?
ILR is a settled status granted to non-EEA individuals who have spent an adequate amount of time in the country.
The ILR criteria for eligibility are several. You must meet specific financial, personal, and residence requirements to settle in the UK. However, once you get your ILR status, you will be able to live, work, and study freely in the country without time restrictions. After a further eligible period of residence, you can also seek citizenship.
What is the difference between ILR and citizenship?
Although Indefinite Leave to Remain allows you to reside in the UK free from immigration restrictions, it is not the same as citizenship.
If you hold ILR, you are not a UK national, and you do not attain the right to vote. If you wish to adjust your status and become a citizen, you must wait until one or two years from the date your ILR is issued. However, if you are married to a UK resident, you do not need to wait additional time.
In other words, ILR is a mandatory prerequisite to settle and get your British passport.
Most importantly, you can lose your ILR if you spend more than 2 years away from the country. On the contrary, UK citizens are free to travel and spend as much time as they like abroad.
I am an EEA national. Can I submit my ILR application?
The ILR status is open to non-EEA nationals who wish to settle in the UK. If you are from an EEA country and you seek permanent residence, you need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The settlement status is available until December 2020. This is the only way for EU citizens to confirm their lawful permanent residence in the UK.
ILR and UK permanent residence status: are they the same?
If you hold ILR, you can live in the UK free from time restriction. Likewise, permanent residence allows you to leave and enter the country without limitations.
Under the UK immigration rules, both ILR holders and permanent residents, benefit from the same rights. However, these immigration conditions are not interchangeable.
Only non-EEA nationals can seek Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Applicants from the EU should apply for permanent residence status to settle in the UK and naturalise as British citizens.
I hold a Tier 2 Work Visa. Am I eligible for ILR?
If you are a non-EEA worker, you must apply for a Tier 2 Visa to get the right to work in the UK. If you wish to remain in the country, you can settle after an eligible period of 5 years of continuous and lawful residence.
To adjust your status, you must meet a minimum threshold of £35,800 and still be employed with a registered sponsor at the time of your application.
How to apply for ILR?
Before you apply for ILR, you must ensure you meet all the requirements set by the immigration law. These conditions depend on your current immigration status in the UK. Overall, the primary Indefinite Leave to Remain conditions for stay are:
- Have spent adequate time in the UK as a lawful resident;
- To pass the Life in the UK and English language tests;
- Do not hold criminal records;
- Have not violated nor overstayed your immigration status.
Once you have assessed your ILR eligibility, you can either complete the Set M or the Set O form, depending on your immigration status.
How many days can you stay outside the UK under ILR?
ILR in the UK is subject to the so-called 180-days rule. This is used to calculate the amount of qualifying absence for your ILR eligibility.
If you entered the UK before 11 January 2018, you must have spent more than 180 days in the country in five consecutive 12-months periods. For applicants who entered the UK after this date, the eligible period is calculated on a rolling basis. This means that the 180-days rule applies to any 12-months period during your entire stay in the country.
There are several ways to demonstrate your travel history in the UK. For example, you can produce flight tickets or statements from your employer in the event of business travels.
ILR eligibility for PBS visa dependants: does the absence rule still apply?
In January 2018, the Home Office set new absence rules for ILR eligibility. These requirements now also affect PBS dependants, who were previously excluded from this condition of stay.
As a consequence, applicants who are seeking ILR after January 2018 and hold a PBS status will be subject to the 180-days absence rule. This means they must have spent more than 180 days in the UK in any consecutive 12-months period before they can apply.
It is worth noting that the absence rule only applies to spouses or unmarried partners of visa holders. Currently, children are not subject to this regulation.
When can I apply for ILR?
Your ILR application is time sensitive, meaning you must submit your form before your current authorised stay expires. However, you can file your ILR application form only 28 days before the date you would complete your eligible period.
In some instances, your 28-days period can instead be calculated based on the date reported on your permit.
If you overstay your visa, your ILR application will be rejected, and you may not be able to remain in the UK. However, if your request is delayed for reasons beyond your control, the UKVI may grant you a short period of overstaying.
Can I travel outside the UK while my ILR application is being processed?
Along with your form and supporting documents, you need to submit your passport in its original form as a part of your ILR application. The same applies to your dependants.
In other words, you will not be able to leave the UK and travel abroad during this time.
Your passport will be returned only once your application has been processed. You will receive it usually within 10 working days from the date of your decision.
I am a full-time student in the UK. Can I apply for ILR?
At the moment, the student visa status does not qualify towards ILR. If you wish to seek permanent residency, you must first complete 10 years of continuous stay in the UK to meet the ILR eligibility criteria. After this period, you will be able to submit your application on the “long residence” basis.
Can IAS help me with my ILR application?
Our immigration experts will be happy to offer you only the best guidance to your ILR application.
Your legal representative will guide you through your application process. First, we will assess your ILR eligibility. In this way, we can advise you properly and help you gather the documentation necessary to support your request.
If you already are an ILR holder and you wish to bring your dependants in the UK with you, we can also help your family settle in the UK.