What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Indefinite Leave to Remain (or ‘settlement’) is a status that offers non-UK citizens permanent settlement in the UK. Settlement status allows you to work, study and live in the UK without restriction, makes travel easy, and allows access to free NHS healthcare and government benefits. It also makes you eligible for citizenship and a British passport.
- What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
- Am I Eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status?
- What is Long Residence?
- Which Visas are Exempt from Qualifying for Long Residence?
- What are the Eligibility Criteria for Long Residence?
- How to Calculate Long Residence
- What are the English Language Requirements for Long Residence ILR?
- When Should I Apply for Long Residence?
- What are the Documents Required to Apply for 10 Years ILR?
- How Do I Get a Biometric Residence Permit?
- How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Indefinite Leave Long Residence?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status?
There are many routes available to obtaining ILR status in the UK. Your personal circumstances, work or study situation, and which UK visa you have all contribute to your ability to be granted indefinite leave.
In most cases, an overseas national can apply for ILR after five years of lawful residence in the UK. Some visas allow you to gain indefinite leave to remain status sooner, usually after living in the UK with one of the following visas for two or three years. You can view our page here for details on ILR eligibility.
You may be able to combine your current and previous visas to gain long residence ILR. This is a complicated procedure and application process, so if you feel you may be eligible for ILR with more than one visa, it is best to seek professional support from immigration experts. Contact IAS today online or call us on 0333 305 9375.
What is Long Residence?
Applying for ILR based on long residence is one of the immigration categories for gaining permanent settlement in the UK after having lived in the UK for ten years.
You need to prove that you have spent 10 years in the UK on one or more qualifying UK visas. However, there is a limit to how long you are allowed to spend outside of the UK within a calendar year. You cannot leave for more than six months to be considered for long residence.
You can apply for long residence even if you haven’t spent the past 12 months in the UK – this is different to gaining ILR after five years.
Please note that long residence ILR is only offered to those who have lived in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. It does not apply to those who have resided in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or the Republic of Ireland.
Which Visas are Exempt from Qualifying for Long Residence?
Short term student visas, seasonal worker visas, or short term entry clearance immigration categories will not be factored in as part of your ten year period in the UK. Any time spent on immigration bail will also not be factored in.
What are the Eligibility Criteria for Long Residence?
The applicant must comply with the following criteria:
- Has had lawful continuous residence in the UK for ten years or more
- Must be a lawful resident with no criminal convictions and has not breached any immigration laws except for an instance where they overstayed a visa for 28 days or less before 24 November 2016, but were still granted leave
- Is not considered a threat to British society
- Must be able to prove knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and British life and culture.
How to Calculate Long Residence
In general, you must have spent the majority of your time in the UK for 10 continuous years.
Within each calendar year of your 10 years in the UK, you are allowed to be outside the UK for up to 180 days. However, you are only allowed to have been outside of the UK for a total of 540 days (18 months) over the course of ten years.
For example, if you left the UK for 180 days in your first year, then you only have 360 days left to spend outside of the UK for the remaining 9 years.
When is Continuous Lawful Residence Considered Broken?
If you have a long absence longer than 6 months, or are outside of the country for over 540 days over 10 years, then your residence is considered broken.
If you left the country without a valid leave to remain visa, and did not reapply for valid entry within 28 days, then this will also constitute as a break in your residency.
Compelling or Compassionate Circumstances
On some occasions, the Home Office may exercise discretion outside of these terms if the applicant experienced compassionate or unavoidable circumstances. If you believe your situation could be considered for this discretion, it is best to work with an expert immigration advisor to support you with your application. IAS can help you with this – contact us today online or on 0333 305 9375.
What are the English Language Requirements for Long Residence ILR?
In order to gain indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you should be able to prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language.
You can do this by either having:
- an English B1, B2, C1 or C2 qualification
- a degree that was taught or researched in the English language
You must also:
- take and pass the Life in the UK test.
You are exempt from proving your English abilities if you are a national from an English speaking country.
When Should I Apply for Long Residence?
Once you have accumulated your ten years of continuous lawful residence in the UK, you are considered eligible even if you come back to the UK after several years living abroad. Therefore, you can apply any time after the 10 year accumulation.
The earliest you can apply is 28 days before your final day of residence is considered qualified for long residence. Your application will be rejected if you apply any sooner than 28 days before the qualifying period.
You must apply before your current leave expires.
What are the Documents Required to Apply for 10 Years ILR?
The following documents listed below are the general grounds required for most for a successful application, although they can vary according to your personal circumstances.
You will need:
- A valid passport or other valid form of travel identification
- A biometric residence permit
- Two valid and recent passport photos
- Police registration certificate
- Any other passports or travel documents that you have held during the 10 years, including expired ones (these should help you calculate your leave)
Please note that if any of your documents are not in English or Welsh, you must make sure that you have translated copies of the relevant documents.
How Do I Get a Biometric Residence Permit?
For some visas and immigration statuses, biometric information is required, and so you must apply for a biometric residence permit (BRP). A BRP costs £161.
You do not need to apply for a BRP separately, as it is included as part of the ILR application. When you apply for 10 year indefinite leave to remain, in order to collect your biometric data you will be asked to make an appointment with UKVCAS, or with a visa application centre if you are not in the UK.
You will need to provide biometric data of your face and your fingerprints. The process is quick and easy. If you do not have any fingers, this will be noted on your application and just biometric data of your face will be taken.
BRP for Children
If your child is under 16, they will need to be accompanied by someone over the age of 18 who is legally responsible for them.
Children under 5 do not need to provide fingerprint data.
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Indefinite Leave Long Residence?
Below are the current rates to apply for indefinite leave long residence. Please note that rates are subject to change. There may also be additional costs that you need to pay, such as for the Life in the UK test and a BRP. You may also need to get some of your official documents translated into English, which could add additional costs to your application.
Applications must be made by post as physical documents such as passports must be submitted.
There is a premium service available for those who need their application to be processed quickly. For this, you must submit your application at a Premium Service Centre. Often, this means that you will get a response within 24 hours, assuming you don’t apply during a very busy period.
- 10 Years Long Residence Application cost: £2404
- Priority Service Centre cost (response within 5 working days): additional £500
- Super Priority Service Centre cost (response within 1 working day): additional £800
- Leave to remain extension: £1048
Please note that additional costs are included, such as taking the Life in the UK test (£50), and taking one of the tests to prove your English knowledge.
Gaining indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom is very desirable for many. It offers the prospects of gaining citizenship and a British passport in the future, offering great travel, living, working, and business opportunities for you and your family. It allows you to feel fully settled and at home in the UK.
We understand that calculating your right to ILR for 10 years is very challenging, particularly if you have travelled in and out of the country frequently throughout the ten year period, or if you have been in the UK on multiple different visas. It can be even more complicated if you had any issues regarding applications for previous leave expiring, like if you overstayed or were unable to apply in time due to an illness bereavement, or have had issues with immigration.
This is why we exist. At IAS, we have a team of expert immigration lawyers with up-to-date knowledge on how you can gain indefinite leave to remain status. Contact us today online or call us on 0333 305 9375.
Last modified on May 18th, 2023 at 10:08 am
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ILR is an immigration status, and obtaining ILR is usually considered the easiest route for being able to work and live in the UK once you fit the criteria, so that you don’t have to be limited to the terms of your visa, and you don’t have to continuously renew or reapply for visas in order to stay.
Visas are more subject to change, or could become redundant at some stage, as they must keep up with internal and international political changes.
If you qualify for indefinite leave to remain status then your settlement rights in the UK will be more stable and permanent, and gives you the opportunity to apply for citizenship and a British passport.
In general, you will need to consider the following costs as part of your application:
- Life in the UK Test: £50
- Biometric Residence Permit: £161
- Long Residence ILR fee: £2404
If you need a quick response, the premium service costs an additional £500 to receive a response within 5 working days, or an additional £800 to receive a response within 1 working day.
If you want to include family members in your application, there will be additional costs of up depending on their age and relationship to you. Document translation fees may also apply.
You must wait 12 months before applying for British citizenship. You can learn more about applying for citizenship here.