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How to settle in the UK (ILR Application)

Once you have been a lawful resident for a specific amount of time, you may be eligible to apply to settle in the UK.

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Achieving settled status

Once you have been a lawful resident for a specific amount of time, you may be eligible to apply to settle in the UK. First and foremost, you need to have the right to live and work or study in the country on a specified visa. At the end of your qualifying period, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and get your settlement status in the UK.

The settlement visa application is a complex process that needs to be completed without mistakes. Failing to provide adequate supporting documents can result in delays or in your application to be refused.

It is important to understand what it truly means to settle in the UK on Indefinite Leave to Remain, and how to apply for it. There are several requirements you need to meet to be eligible, and you may need professional help to complete your application form.

Our expert immigration lawyers can provide professional guidance on how to settle in the UK. If you want to learn more about our services and support on UK settled status, you can get in touch today with one of our advisors for immediate assistance.

What is settlement in the UK?

Holding settlement status in the UK means you can benefit from complete freedom from UK immigration rules. In addition, you can live, work and study in the country without any time restrictions or warrant to return to your home country. Most importantly, holding settled status, or Indefinite Leave to Remain is a prerequisite to applying for British Citizenship after a further qualifying period.

However, your settled status can be revoked if you spend more than 2 consecutive years outside the UK, or if you breach the terms of your stay in another way. The only way to obtain unrestricted right to travel to and from the country is to get British citizenship.

Do you need help? Our lawyers can assist you.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settlement status that allows an overseas individual to settle in the UK. The settlement method allows complete freedom to the holder, who can, in turn, work, study, and live in the UK indefinitely- you may eventually be able to apply for British citizenship.

A person can only become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after they have exceeded the designated qualifying period for their specific visa type or living situation. Typically, this is between 5 and 10 years, although, in some cases, this can be as soon as two to three years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain should be looked into carefully before you apply, to ensure that you are meeting the eligibility criteria set out by the Home Office. You may be eligible to apply if you have had a continuous lawful residence in the UK on any of the following categories: Skilled Worker visa, Family and spouse visas, UK Ancestry visa, or, a Global Talent visa, to name a few. You can find more information readily available on the types of visas that allow a person to apply for settled status under the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) method.

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

The EU Settlement Scheme was introduced during the Brexit transition period to aid immigration control in the UK. The EU Settlement Scheme was open to EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the chance to apply for settled status to remain after the referendum.

Those who submitted a successful application were either granted settled or pre-settled status.

Settled status

Acquiring settled status allows an overseas individual to live in the UK with the same rights as a British Citizen. This includes being able to access services such as: free healthcare, education, benefits, and pension schemes.

Pre-settled status

pre-settled status is awarded to those from an EU country who have not been in the UK for the 5-year qualifying period. pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will allow them to remain in the UK to meet the qualifying period of 5 years, from this point they can re-apply for settled status through Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Who is eligible for UK settlement?

You may be eligible for UK settlement status if you:

  • Are the family member or spouse of a British citizen;
  • Are the dependant or partner of a settled person;
  • Have been living in the UK for a qualifying period of 5 or 10 years (depending on your status);
  • Qualify under the Long Residence route;
  • Hold a qualifying visa that can open a path to settlement in the UK.

How to apply for a UK Settlement Visa?

You can only apply from within the UK after a specific period of lawful residence. There are four different routes that can lead to UK settlement:

  • Worker Visas (including Skilled Worker and Investor visas holders). You can apply to settle in the UK after 5 years of continuous lawful residence.
  • Settlement Visas, such as Spouse, Fiancé, and Ancestry visas. These permits may automatically open the path to ILR after 5 years of residence.
  • Long Residence Rule. If you have lawfully lived in the UK for at least 10 years, you may apply for settlement if you meet the other requirements.
  • Refugees and people who are in the UK under the Gateway Protection Programme can be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What are the UK settlement requirements?

There are specific ILR requirements you need to meet to be eligible to settle in the UK.

Besides the lawful residence criteria, you must meet specific financial conditions. You must provide evidence of a minimum annual income of £18,600 or higher, in the case of dependants. You also need to provide a written statement from your sponsor (if applicable) or your parent or legal guardian (if you are under the age of 18).

You must submit proof of every salary received in the UK, as well as of private pensions, benefits schemes, or cash savings. You also need to provide information about your immigration status and criminal convictions.

Do not forget to include two colour passport-sized pictures with your full name written on the back.

If you are between the age of 18 and 65, you need to prove your English proficiency is equivalent to B1 level on CEFR. If you hold a degree taught or researched in English, you are exempt from this requirement. However, you still need to pass the Life in the UK Test. This exam will assess your knowledge of UK traditions, values and law.

The same instructions apply to any dependant family member you decide to include in your settlement visa application. If you are under the age of 18, your forms must be signed by your parents or legal guardians.

How to submit your UK settlement visa application?

You need to meet all the UK settlement visa requirements at the time you submit your application form.

Depending on your current visa status, you need to complete either the Set (M) form or the Set O Application Form.

Set (O) Form

You need to fill in out this form if you fit in one of the following categories:

  • Work permit holders;
  • PBS dependants;
  • Businesspersons (including investors);
  • Self-employers;
  • Artists;
  • UK ancestry visa holders;
  • Bereaved partners of British citizens or residents.

Read more How to complete the SET O Form

Set (M) Form

If you are the partner of a settled person, you need to use the Set (M) Form. The same paperwork can be used to include any dependent children under the age of 18.

Along with your Settlement visa application, you must provide evidence of lawful residence in the UK for the previous 5 years. Find out more Set M form guidance notes.

When should you apply for UK settlement?

Before you can apply for UK settlement status, you must have spent a specific amount of time in the UK. If you currently hold a different visa, you must submit your request before your current authorised stay expires.

However, you can apply to settle in the UK no more than 28 days before the end of your qualifying period. Otherwise, the UKVI will automatically reject your request, and you will need to wait before re-applying.

If you are following the long residency route, you can submit your application only after at least 10 years of residence in the UK. Your qualifying period can either start from the day you arrived in the country or the day you obtained your visa.

UK settlement status for previous ILR holder

If you have been absent from the UK for over two years, you may have lost your Indefinite Leave to Remain status. To re-enter the UK on a settled basis you need to get a Returning Resident Visa.

To be eligible, you must prove your intention to maintain strong ties with the UK. The UKVI may also ask you to provide reasons for your long absences from the country. You seek assistance from citizens advice and an immigration lawyer.

To prove your commitment to lawful residence in the UK, you may submit proof of mortgage deeds or estate properties.

If you have further queries about reapplying for UK settlement status, one of our immigration lawyers will be happy to help.

How can IAS help?

At IAS, our team of immigration solicitors will assess your situation to find the right way for you to settle in the UK. We can help you gather relevant evidence to build your successful UK settlement visa supporting portfolio. We can also liaise with the Home Office regularly to check the status of your application.

We have offices located across the UK, including in LondonManchester, or Birmingham. You can also use the office finder to find your closest branch. Your dedicated solicitor will be happy to deal with all your queries and doubts and will help you settle in the UK without stress or delays.

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can check your settled status online through the Home Offices designated online checking service. The tool will allow you to check your immigration status in the UK and to generate share code to allow an employer to check for you as part of a right to work check.

Settled status will allow you to remain in the UK for as long as you wish. Once you meet the requirements to do so, you may be able to apply for British citizenship.

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