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Is indefinite leave to remain the same as British citizenship?

Both British Citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain allow an overseas individual to live freely in the UK on a permanent basis. However, there are some key differences between the two.

For more information on how our Immigration lawyers can help you with your Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship queries, call our team of advisors today on 0333 305 9375 for immediate assistance.


What makes Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship different?

Both Indefinite Leave to remain(ILR) and British citizenship allow an overseas migrant to live, work and study in the UK free of immigration restrictions. Whilst both forms of settled status are very similar, there are in fact some key differences between the two.

The main difference is the rights that are granted to an individual under each immigration status category. ILR status allows an unlimited stay in the UK, with access to NHS services, whereas British citizenship includes all this but introduces many more benefits that a British citizen born into the UK would have, including the right to vote and apply for a British passport, and to hold dual citizenship.

For more information on how our Immigration lawyers can help you with your Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship queries, call our team of advisors today on 0333 305 9375 for immediate assistance.

Benefits of Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain status is something many foreign nationals work towards by spending a continuous period of residence in the UK visa an eligible visa category.

One thing that makes ILR status so desirable is that it allows you to live free of immigration rules for a non-capped time limit, meaning that there is less worry of deportation or having to extend an existing visa after a certain amount of years.

You will also be able to travel freely to and from the UK as many times as you like without being subjected to UK immigration controls.

In addition, ILR status allows you to access state benefits if necessary. Moreover, unlike visa holders, ILR holders are not subjected to any costs such as the immigration health surcharge, which means they can access NHS healthcare free of charge whilst living in the United Kingdom.

You will also be eligible to bring family members from outside of the UK, such as spouses, to come and live with you in the UK.

In most cases, you must have been living in the UK legally for five consecutive year to become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain, although this figure may vary depending on the route. A further requirement is for any applicant to pass the Life in the UK test and prove their knowledge of the English language to at least level B1.

Benefits of British citizenship

Becoming a UK citizen holds many benefits not available to those with ILR status. British citizenship by naturalization offers foreign nationals the chance to obtain the same rights as a British citizen who has lived in the United Kingdom since birth. Living in the UK permanently with British citizenship through naturalisation will permit you to apply for a British passport.

In addition, British citizenship gives you the right to vote in UK elections or to stand for office should you wish too.

One further major advantage of becoming a British citizen is that you can apply for British citizenship for your children born outside of the UK. Any children born from inside the UK to a British citizen will automatically gain British citizenship.

Finally, you will generally not face any risk of losing your British citizenship status. On the other hand, there are several scenarios where it is possible to lose your ILR status, such as if you spend more than 2 consecutive years outside the UK, if you’re subject to a deportation order, or if you cease to be a refugee by your own actions, among others. If you lose ILR due to spending too much time outside of the UK, you may regain it through a Returning Resident visa, however.

You will only be at risk of losing your citizenship if the Home Secretary decides to do so for the sake of the public good, or if you are found to have obtained citizenship through fraudulent means.

Do you need help applying for ILR or British citizenship? Our lawyers can assist you.

When can you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

How soon you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after holding a UK visa depends on your personal circumstances. Typically, you can apply for ILR after 5 or 10 years, but in some circumstances you can apply after two or three.

For most though, the average time to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain is after 5 years. The 5 year route states that a visa holder must have been living in the UK lawfully and continuously for a minimum of 5 years before they become eligible for ILR.

ILR is a necessary prerequisite to becoming a British citizen and many see ILR as a stepping stone to becoming a lifelong UK citizen, with a British passport to travel freely outside of the UK.

To apply for ILR, you must be able to demonstrate that you meet the required knowledge of the English language by taking an English language test. Furthermore, most applicants will have to take the Life in the UK test and pass it to a satisfactory level.

What visa types can qualify you for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

There are multiple different types of UK visa that can allow a person to become eligible for ILR after the qualifying period. These include, but aren’t limited to:

If you do not hold any of these visas, you may still be eligible. Get in touch with a qualified immigration expert for more information on applying for ILR on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.

How soon can you apply for British citizenship after ILR?

When you can apply for British citizenship depends on your personal circumstances after being granted ILR status.

The general rule is that you can apply for British citizenship 12 months after you have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain. In order to do so, you will need to meet a very strict criteria and set of requirements to be considered. The application process itself can be incredibly complex.

All in all, you must generally have been in the UK for a total of 6 years before you can be considered to become a British citizen.

If you have ILR as a spouse or as part of a civil partnership, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you have been granted ILR. However, you must meet a separate eligibility criteria to do so.

How to apply for British citizenship after ILR

You can apply online to become a British citizen, or you can fill out a paper form by post. Typically, applying online is the most direct and straightforward way. The British citizenship application process is often complex and lengthy.

Along with your application form, you will be required to submit a series of supporting documentation and the designated application fee.

Usually, you must provide the following documentation:

  • Previous visas and passports from before you had settled status
  • Details of long periods of absence from the UK
  • A Biometric Residence Permit, a No Time Limit stamp to prove your ILR status
  • A birth certificate
  • Proof of your Knowledge of English to at least level B1, or, proof of an English language qualification
  • A Life in the UK test pass certificate

Once you have applied to become a British citizen, your application will start to be processed. If you are granted British citizenship successfully, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you will take an oath of allegiance or affirmation and a pledge. After this, you will be presented with your official documentation. You must attend a citizenship ceremony within three months of being invited, or you will have to reapply.

It is important to note that the British citizen application process can take up to six months.

How can IAS help?

IAS have a dedicated team of immigration lawyers who have a proven track record in helping people in applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and becoming British citizens.

Both processes can often seem daunting and stressful, but our lawyers can assist you in ensuring your application is perfect first time around and dealing with the UK government on your behalf.

For more information on ILR and UK citizenship, call our friendly team of advisors today on  0333 305 9375 for further guidance.

We can help you if you need help with your Skilled Worker Visa application.

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