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Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship: A Full Guide

This guide provides a breakdown of which visa types are eligible for ILR, and how to move from ILR to British citizenship.

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Part One of this guide will provide a breakdown of which visa types are eligible for ILR, and how to apply.

Part Two will outline what you need to move from ILR to British citizenship, and how to apply.

Part One: Applying for ILR

As touched upon, only certain visa types are on a route that leads to UK settlement. You then have to be a holder of a relevant visa for a qualifying period. The length of the qualifying period for ILR depends on what type of visa you hold.

The ILR route visas and their qualifying periods are:

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years.
  • Tier 1 Investor Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years. This can be accelerated to 2 years if you invest £10 million, 3 years if you invest £5 million and 4 years if you invest £2 million.
  • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa – can apply for ILR after 3 years.
  • Tier 2 Worker Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years.
  • Spouse Visas- can apply for ILR upon completion of 5 years residence in the UK as a spouse.
  • Unmarried Partner Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years.
  • PBS Dependant Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years.
  • UK Ancestry Visas – can apply for ILR after 5 years.
  • Long Residence – can apply for ILR after 10 years

The settlement visa application process can be complex. As a result, we have a dedicated team of lawyers ready to guide you through each step. Here at IAS we offer a free 15-minute consultation for all those who enquire about applying for settlement.

What are the requirements?

You must meet certain requirements in order to successfully apply for ILR. These include:

  • Financial requirements:
    • If applying as a spouse/partner, you must have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year.
  • Documents: You will need to provide a number of different documents when applying for settled status. These include:
    • Current passport
    • Current Biometric Residence Permit
    • Most recent bank statement dated within one calendar month before the application
    • Bank statements showing your salary
    • A letter from your current employer
    • Tenancy agreements/mortgage statements
    • and much more.
  • Completion of the Life in the UK Test. This involves 24 multiple choice questions about British politics, life and customs- proof of completion should be provided alongside other documents.
  • Completion of English Language proficiency test (IELTS or Trinity College exam) – proof of completion should be provided alongside other documents.
  • Continuous lawful residence in the UK.
  • Satisfy the suitability and criminality requirements

How to apply

There are two main application forms for ILR. Which form you fill in depends on what type of visa you hold.

Set (O) Form

You will use this form to apply for ILR if you are applying under one of the following visa categories:

  • A Tier 1 applicant;
  • A Tier 2 applicant;
  • An ancestry visa holder;
  • A PBS dependant;
  • Long Residence (10 years) applicants;
  • Overseas business representatives;
  • Retired persons who are lawfully in the UK and are financially independent;
  • Bereaved partners of a British citizen or permanent resident.

Set (M) Form

This needs to be filled in if you are the spouse of a British citizen. Alongside the form itself, you need to provide evidence of 5 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK.

If applying via 10 years long residence, use SET(LR) form.

Mistakes in either of these forms can result in your application being rejected. IAS can assist you with both of these forms, ensuring you receive the outcome you want.

Part Two: Applying for Citizenship

Once you have been granted settled status, the next and final stage on your journey to becoming a UK citizen is to apply for citizenship itself. This can be done after holding settled status for 12 months as long as you satisfy the residency requirements.

If you are married to a British citizen, you can apply for British Citizenship as soon as you receive your ILR. Again this is subject to you satisfying the residency requirements.

The naturalisation application process is lengthy, as it determines whether or not you are able to become a British citizen. Our team of lawyers are experts in the application and ready to help you through each step. Call now for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our lawyers.

The eligibility criteria for British naturalisation are:

  • Proficiency in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic;
  • Demonstrate adequate knowledge of UK Life;
  • Demonstrate ‘good character’ as defined by the Home Office;
  • Possess either ILR or EEA Permanent Residence for at least one year;
  • Be at least 18 years-of-age at the time of your application;
  • Not have broken any immigration laws;
  • Have lived in the UK for five years
    • Three years if you are married to a British Citizen

There is one form for naturalisation: Form AN.

This involves the submission of a large amount of information and documentation. Some of the documents the Home Office requires will have already been submitted during your ILR application. However, it is absolutely vital that you send everything required.

Documents needed:

  • Good character requirement
    • Amongst other things, you must provide proof that you do not have a criminal record or any unspent civil judgements;
  • Life in the UK Test certificate;
  • Language proficiency (IELTS or Trinity College) test certificate;
  • Proof of ILR status;
  • Employment details;
  • All travel details from the previous five years- this demonstrates continuous residence;
  • Personal details- contact details, original passport, parents’ details, partner’s details (if applicable);
  • Referees and identity.

Once you submit the application, you will receive an instant acknowledgement. You will then need to book a biometrics appointment and scan/upload supporting documentation.

It will take around 12 weeks for a decision to be made. If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend a naturalisation ceremony. After naturalisation has been granted, you are able to apply for a British passport.

Consultation with an IAS immigration lawyer

If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British Citizenship within the 12 months then you are eligible to receive a consultation with one of our Immigration Lawyers.

Contact our LondonManchester, or Birmingham immigration lawyers, or use the office finder to find your nearest branch.

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