What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settlement available to overseas nationals.
Typically, you must have spent at least five years in the UK before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, though in certain circumstances you can apply after three years of residence in the UK, or even two.
What are the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements and eligibility?
The specific requirements differ depending on the particular circumstances of the applicant, including the type of visa they hold.
The most basic requirement for ILR is to have been lawfully living in the UK for a certain period of time. However, there are other requirements which must be fulfilled too.
The general requirements to become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain are based on:
- Lawful living in the UK for a certain period of time
- No breach of immigration laws during your stay in the UK and no criminal record
- A period of time spent outside the UK which doesn’t exceed 180 days in a 12-month period during the qualifying period
- A pass in the Life in the UK test, which is a test based on British culture, history and traditions
- Ability to prove that you meet the B1 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Languages
Certain individuals will not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted with settled UK status, including:
- Those eligible for British citizenship by descent (or other form of automatic citizenship)
- Child dependents of British citizen or person with settled status
- An adult dependent who is reliant on the long-term care of their family member who is a British citizen or person with settled status
- Refugees resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Program
What are the different routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain?
If you have been lawfully living in the UK under a form of settlement visa UK you will be able to apply for ILR once you have passed the minimum time threshold for that particular visa. An applicant will also need to fulfil other stipulated requirements.
Visas/routes which can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain status include:
- Spouse Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
- Family Visa
- Tier 1 Global Talent Visa
- Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
- Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
- Tier 1 Investor Visa
- Tier 1 Innovator Visa
- Tier 1 Start up Visa
- Tier 2 (General) Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
- Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Retired Person Visa
- Long residence
- Returning resident
It is also possible for someone to become eligible for ILR through a less traditional route which doesn’t require holding a specific visa.
Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years?
The amount of time you must have spent in the UK before you are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain depends on your particular circumstances. In most cases, an overseas national can apply for ILR after five years of lawful residence in the UK.
Some of the visas which require five years of UK residence include:
- Spouse Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
- Family Visa
- Tier 2 Visas
- Skilled Worker Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
Under certain circumstances you could be eligible for ILR status with less than five years of residence in the UK, including those residing in the UK under:
- Innovator Visa. Eligible after three years, depending on business achievements
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Eligible after three years, depending on business activities. (This visa is no longer in operation)
- Global Talent Visa. Eligible after three years if last endorsement was given under “exceptional talent” or “exceptional promise” criteria or under UK Research and Innovation fast track criteria
- Tier 1 Investor Visa. Eligible after two or three years depending on business activities
- Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. Eligible after three years if last endorsement was given under the “exceptional talent” or “exceptional promise” criteria for the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering or British Academy. (This visa is no longer in operation)
Also, a Commonwealth citizen who has served in the British Armed Forces can apply for ILR after a qualifying period of four years in the UK.
In some cases, the minimum time requirement will be longer than five years. If someone has been living in the UK under a form of Long Residence, they will need to have spent 10 years in the UK before applying for ILR if they are over 18, and 7 years if they are under 18.
What do I need to know about the English language test?
As part of the Indefinite Leave to Remain application, you must be able to prove that you meet the English language requirement of B1 in speaking and listening as specified by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Most applicants will need to hold a certificate from an approved test provider to include in their Indefinite Leave to Remain application or, alternatively, be able to show the results online.
However, some people will not need to fulfil this requirement. For example, citizens of Commonwealth countries or majority English-speaking countries will usually be exempt.
This includes, but is not limited to, citizens of the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Also, the following applicants will be exempt from the English language requirement:
- Those aged 65 or over
- Holders of a degree or higher qualification at an accredited educational establishment which was taught in English
- Those under humanitarian protection
- Victims of domestic abuse
- A partner or spouse of a person who has died who was a British citizen or person with settled status
What is the Life in the UK Test?
A necessary component of the Indefinite Leave to Remain application is the Life in the UK test. Otherwise known as the British Citizenship test, the Life in the UK test is based on the culture, history and traditions of Britain.
The test lasts for 45 minutes and is comprised of 24 questions, and those questions are randomly generated on the day of the test. You must achieve a score of at least 75% to pass the test.
It costs £50 to take the test and there are over 30 accredited centres where the test can be taken. However, bear in mind that you can only sit the test in one of the five centres nearest to where you live.
If you fail the test, you can sit it again at least seven days after the date of your test. The test can be retaken as many times as needed to achieve a pass.
Those aged 18 or under, or 65 or over will not need to sit the test. Also, if someone has written confirmation from a doctor of a long-term physical or mental condition, they will usually be exempt too.
On the day of the test, you must bring some official identification such as a passport or driving licence, as well as some correspondence dated within three months which shows your UK address.
As part of your application, you must include your Life in the UK pass certificate.
Periods of absence
Usually, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period to be eligible for ILR status.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, for example, if you have been outside of the UK on business, or your time outside of the UK was due to exceptional circumstances.
If you were outside the UK for the following reasons, it will generally be accepted as permissible absence:
- Due to conflict
- Serious illness of the applicant or a close family member
- A natural disaster
- Tier 2 (General) Visa/Skilled Worker Visa holder who has been sponsored to work in a PhD level occupation
- Work undertaken overseas by certain full-time HM armed force reserve members
- Some absences taken by applicants with a Global Talent or Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa
In general, it is a good idea to keep records of any periods of time you have spent outside of the UK since you began your UK residency.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Application Advice
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain may be stressful and time-consuming. For this reason, at IAS, we are committed to professionally assisting all our clients. Your case will be processed by an experienced immigration lawyer, who will assess your situation and advise you on how to proceed. We will also take complete instructions from you on how to complete and submit your application to the Home Office.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your ILR application.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Application Assistance
At IAS, our immigration lawyers can help you through each step of your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. After assessing your eligibility, your dedicated lawyer will complete your application form to the best standard. This includes performing a full document check to ensure that your portfolio of evidence is adequate. We can also prepare a Letter of Representation to support your application.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your journey towards Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
Which documents do I need to include in my Indefinite Leave to Remain application?
As part of your application for ILR, you will need to include a number of supporting documents. This applies to both yourself, and any dependants who are applying with you.
It is important to note that the documents which you provide must be the original issues. If you cannot provide the original documents, you will need to explain why. If exceptional circumstances mean you cannot access the original documents, the Home Office will give some leniency.
Ordinarily, you will need to provide the following documents and information:
- Passport and travel documents, including any old passport which was valid during your time in the UK
- Birth or adoption certificates
- Documents which account for any time spent outside of the UK during your residency, for example travel documents
- A police registration certificate if you were required to register with the police when you arrived in the UK
- A history of your immigration
- Financial information, such as bank statements
- Pass certificate of Life in the UK test
- Pass certificate (if not exempt) to prove B1 level of English
- Two identical passport-sized photographs
What is the Indefinite Leave to Remain application form I need to use?
The two main forms which are used for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications are Form Set (O) and Form Set (M).
Form Set (M) is the form that needs to be completed when someone applies for ILR as a partner of someone, or parent of a child who is already settled in the UK
For all other ILR applications, Form Set (O) is the form to use. This includes those who have been living under Tier 1 investor and exceptional talent visas, Tier 2 visas, Skilled Worker Visas PBS dependants and those on UK Ancestry visas.
Indefinite Leave to Remain fee
The current fee for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application is £2,389. If you are applying with your family, your dependents will need to pay the full fee of £2389.
An expedited service is also available if you need a quick decision on your application. The priority service processes your application within five working days and costs a further £500, and the super-priority will process your application within one working day, costing an additional £800.
How long does it take to process an Indefinite Leave to Remain application?
There is no specific timescale, but a standard Indefinite Leave to Remain application will be processed within six months.
Indefinite Leave to Remain UK as a spouse
The Spouse Visa is designed for those who wish to join their partners in the UK, and is one of the most popular types of visa.
Ordinarily, a spouse of a settled partner can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after five years of being a lawful resident in the UK.
The initial Spouse Visa lasts for 30 months and at the end of this period, it can be extended for a further 30 months. Once the Spouse Visa Extension period expires, a spouse will be able to apply for ILR, provided they can meet the full requirements.
Biometric Residence Permit with ILR
A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a form of identification which includes your name, date of birth, fingerprints and a photo of your face. It will also detail your immigration status, any conditions of your stay and information on benefits and services which can be accessed.
If you don’t already have a BRP, you will need to get one when you apply for ILR. Details on how to get your BRP will be explained to you once your application has been submitted.
What are my rights with Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of permanent residence, which means that holders of it will be able to remain in the UK without any restrictions imposed.
You will be free to work in the UK and study and study, and you will be eligible for free NHS healthcare.
Can ILR Status be Revoked?
It is important to note that ILR status can be revoked in certain circumstances.
ILR status could be revoked if:
- You were granted ILR as a refugee and you are no longer classed as a refugee
- You are liable to deportation but cannot be deported for legal reasons
- You were found to have been granted ILR by deception
- You leave the UK for a period of longer than 2 years
What can I do if my Indefinite Leave to Remain application is refused?
A refused application can be very distressing news. Firstly, it is important to understand why your application was rejected. The reasons for the refusal will be explained in the rejection letter.
If there was an obvious mistake made on the application, the best option is to resubmit the application with the mistakes rectified.
However, if you believe that your application was unfairly rejected, you can choose to challenge the decision of the Home Office.
If you think a genuine mistake was made on your application, such as a key piece of evidence not being taken into account, the best option is to choose an administrative review. With this option, your application will be reconsidered by a different immigration official.
In certain cases, you might be able to lodge an official legal appeal against the Home Office’s decision. Your refusal letter will indicate whether this is an option for you.
If you decide to challenge the Home Office’s decision, the IAS can support you through the entire process with our appeal package. Call us now on 0333 305 9375 to find out more.
Will I automatically receive British citizenship when ILR ends?
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a major step towards becoming a British citizen. However, you will not automatically become a British citizen after you have spent a certain period of time living under ILR status.
After you have lived in the UK for twelve months under ILR, you will be able to apply for British citizenship, provided your circumstances haven’t changed significantly. If you want to become a full British citizen, you must complete an application for British citizenship by naturalisation and submit it to the Home Office.
As a British citizen, you will be able to apply for a British passport and enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.
What is the EEA Citizens Settlement Scheme?
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme instead of Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The EU Settlement Scheme enables successful applicants to live and work in the UK after 30 June 2021 without any restrictions.
In most cases, you must have been living in the UK before 31st December 2020 to be eligible.
If you are eligible for the scheme, your immediate family members will be able to join the scheme too on the basis of their relationship to you, enjoying the same freedoms as yourself.
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You can get Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK through various routes. Most commonly, these are when you are in the UK with permission as one of the following:
- A partner
- A family member
- A certain type of worker (e.g Tier 2/Skilled Worker)
- On continuous and long-term lawful residence
- A person with Ancestry ties.
The dependent child of a British Citizen or a person who is a settled resident in the UK may be given immediate permission to remain indefinitely, and refugees who are resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Programme will automatically be granted immediate permission to remain.
Find out more about the ILR requirements.
To apply for ILR you need to complete Form SET (O) or Form SET (M), depending on your circumstances.You must already be in the UK and in many cases will need to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life, although certain applicants are exempt from this requirement including children (under 18), parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives of people present and settled in the UK, or those residing in the UK as a refugee.
You will need to demonstrate your knowledge of the English language and UK life by passing the Life in the UK test and meeting the English Language requirements. You will not need to pass the English Language requirements for ILR if you hold a recognised qualification in English, have a degree that was taught or researched in English or you are a national of an English-speaking country.
As part of your application, you will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as biometric information) and obtain a Biometric Residence Permit. This will confirm your immigration status and entitlements.
Find out more about how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The Home Office Indefinite Leave to Remain fee is £2,389 per applicant.
It also costs £19.20 to register biometric information, which is an essential part of the ILR application process.
Typically, you can apply for ILR after five years’ time as a resident in the UK.
However, for some applicants, you may have to wait as long as 10 years before you can apply for your ILR Visa. This will depend on the type of visa you have been using to live in the UK, as well as a number of other requirements.
Read more on how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years.
A person could lose ILR if they leave the UK for two years or more while they hold ILR status.
If you are a returning resident, meaning you have left the UK for an extended period and then returned, you should make sure that your time spent outside the UK does not breach ILR guidelines, and stays lower than five years.
An ILR card is a name given to the document you will receive when you make an application for ILR.
You must also satisfy a number of requirements to get an ILR card. As of October 2013, this includes passing a speaking and listening qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL qualification).
The card/certificate you receive when you get Indefinite Leave to Remain can be used as proof of your settled status when making job applications, renting property and applying for citizenship.
Yes, you will need to sit the Life in the UK test as part of your application for citizenship or settlement if you are between the ages of 18 and 65.
The test is a standard exam that is geared to test your knowledge of the traditions, customs and history of Britain. To pass the test and make sure you satisfy this section of the eligibility requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must score 75% or above.
There is a fee to take the test and you must pay the fee for every attempt of the test you make, although you may take it as many times as you need to.
If you would like any further information on how to prepare for the Life in the UK test then contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers who would be happy to help with your test or ILR visa.
It is highly likely that any unspent convictions will affect your application for ILR under the suitability requirements, although this does depend on the type of conviction and the individual circumstances.
If the conviction is spent then there is still a chance that this could affect your ILR application, again, this will depend on the type of conviction.
We would strongly recommend talking to an immigration specialist about your conviction before putting together your application to ensure you have the best possible chance of success.
If you do not yet qualify for ILR you may be able to extend your existing visa temporarily and remain in the UK. This is known as Further Leave to Remain. If you came here as a visitor, in most cases you cannot extend your permission to stay beyond six months, although in limited circumstances you may be able to switch to a different visa category.
You must also apply to extend your stay before your existing permission expires – as an overstayer will risk an order for enforced removal.
Here at IAS, we can assist with all applications including appeals in the event of a refusal. As the UK’s leading immigration experts, we have an exceptional track record in ILR applications.
Our services include:
- liaising with you in person, via phone or Skype at a time that suits you;
- assessing your eligibility for ILR
- checking your documents to ensure that they are sufficient for your application;
- preparing a Letter of Representation to accompany your application;
- liaising with the Home Office during your application process;
- completing your application to the highest standard to ensure there are no mistakes made;
- submitting your application to the Home Office
- helping you prepare for the ‘Life in the UK test’;
- helping you meet your English Language requirements.
Please do not hesitate to contact one of our immigration lawyers using our online contact form or call 0333 414 9244 for more information on ILR visas or applying for ILR.