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The UK Settlement Visa and its Requirements

There is no such visa type known as a “settlement visa” in the UK immigration system. When individuals talk about such a visa they often mean the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status that gives them the freedom to live permanently in the UK without requiring a visa.

If you wish to settle in the UK and apply for an ILR, you can contact our team of expert advisors at IAS, who are just a message away. You can use the live chat option available on our page or call to speak to one of our representatives at (+44) 333 4149244.


How Do I Get a UK Settlement Visa?

After overseas nationals have had a valid visa for a set period of time, they often become settled in the UK and may be eligible for ILR status.

To make a successful application to settle in Britain, you should have lived permanently in the United Kingdom for a minimum of 5 years (in the majority of cases although some visas have shorter qualifying time). Applicants must submit the correct application form as well as the required documents and appropriate fee.

British Citizenship vs. Settlement Visa Based on ILR

Getting settled in the UK based on ILR differs from obtaining British citizenship. ILR is seen as a step towards becoming a British citizen.

ILR gives an individual permission to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely. This removes the worry of repeated visa renewals and saves the time and money required for each renewal or extension.

However, British Citizenship holders do qualify for a British Passport, exercise full civic rights in the country, get access to free medical care through the NHS and gain the right to vote in the country.

Additionally, holding British Citizenship allows people to travel as long as they like outside Britain without risking losing their rights as a British citizen.

Applicants with ILR become eligible to apply for British citizenship within one year of settling in the UK.

What Are the General Conditions When You Apply for a Settlement Visa in UK?

In order to be eligible for a UK settlement visa or ILR, you need to fulfill the following conditions:

  • You should either be a partner or family member of a British citizen; be a partner or family member of an immigrant to the UK; or be a citizen of the European Union
  • You should possess either a work visa, a UK ancestry visa, a retired person visa, or both
  • You should be currently serving or have had served in the HM Forces
  • Possess a discretionary leave
  • You follow a 10-year Private Life plan
  • Have legally lived in the UK for ten years and you meet the requirements for long residence or are submitting an application for special humanitarian reasons

Applications made on the basis of the following visas are acceptable for a UK Settlement Visa if the applicant fulfils the necessary duration of stay of 5 years:

  • Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Spouse Visa
  • Ancestry Visa
  • Holders of Work Permits
  • Investor Visa
  • Writers, Composers, and Artists
  • Independent retiree who has been retired for five continuous years.
  • Refugee Visa

Who is Eligible for a UK Settlement Visa?

To be eligible for settling in the UK, you must fulfill one of the following sets of immigration rules.

  1. Applying as a Worker in the UK
    If you possess a Work Visa, you could be eligible to apply for a ILR in the UK. In most cases you will need to show you have had five years living and working in the UK. This can be reduced to a shorter piod if you are in the UK on other visas such as the Global Talent or Innovator Visa.
  2. Applying with a Family in the UK
    If you have a partner, parent, child, or other family members living in the UK, either as a British citizen or as someone with an indefinite right to remain, you could be eligible to apply. The type of visa you hold and the level of your relative’s settlement will determine how you should apply.
  3. Applying If You Have Lived in the UK (10+ Years)
    If you have been a resident of this country for ten years or longer, you could be eligible to apply. You should seek advice from an immigration specialist to see the best routes available to you to settle in the UK permanently.
  4. Applying as a Commonwealth Citizen
    If you’ve had a UK Ancestry visa for at least five years, you may apply for ILR status.
  5. Applying Under the EU Settlement Scheme
    The EU Settlement Plan may be an option if you and family members are part of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and wish to remain in the UK.
    However, the majority of applicants had until 30 June 2021 to submit their applications to settle in the UK under the EU Settlement Plan. If opting to apply beyond this deadline then you must be able to provide a valid reason for the delay

Settling in the UK Based on Different Visa Types

In some cases certain applicants might find it difficult to gain a permanent residence or a settlement visa under the Family Immigration Scheme. In such cases, people are allowed to obtain an ILR based on the nature of their current visa status if they fulfill the residency requirement described by the government.

1. Settling in UK Based on a Work Visa

The most commonly available method for obtaining ILR is based on the work visa route in the United Kingdom.

It may be possible to move from a working visa into another type of visa that meets the criteria without leaving the UK. Various popular work visa routes that can lead to ILR include Specialised Worker visa, Medical Worker visa and the Scale-up visa. The criteria for eligibility generally include the following:

  • Have resided in the UK continuously for the necessary amount of time (normally five years)
  • Continue to work for their sponsor
  • Continue to earn the required minimum wage required to be eligible to apply under this category
  • Possess the necessary proficiency in English and pass the Life in the UK test

2. Settling in the UK Based on a Long-Term Residency Visa

Having lived in the UK for a significant amount of time based on a Long Residence Visa is another strategy frequently employed to obtain a UK settlement visa. Those who wish to apply for a residence card based on prolonged residency must:

  • Have continuously resided in the UK for ten years. This can be calculated using any combination of visa types across the various immigration categories.
  • Passed the Life in the UK test
  • Satisfied the linguistic requirements for English
  • Provided any requested supporting documents

3. Settling in the UK Based on a Business Visa

Obtaining ILR status is also made possible by a business visa route such as the Innovator Visa. Those with Innovator Visas who wish to apply successfully for settling in the UK permanently must fulfill the following requirement to be granted settlement in the country:

  • Have been residing in the UK for at least three years on a Innovator Visa
  • Possess fresh evidence demonstrating the expansion of their comapny/business
  • Have taken and passed the Living in the UK test

Do you need help with The UK Settlement Visa? Our lawyers can help.

Settlement Visa for Dependent Relatives/ Spouse/ Children

If you have resided in the UK continuously for the requisite period of time as a family member of a settled person, you may qualified to settle in the UK through the Family Visa route.

Children and spouses of people who have established themselves in the UK most frequently use the Ffamily Visa Route. Other family members, such as those who require a relative’s care in the UK, may also move in through the family route as an adult-dependent relative.

If your spouse’s visa application gets approved, you can enter and remain in the UK for 2 1/2 years. If your spouse’s visa extensions are successful, your leave will last another two years and a half.

In addition to meeting the criteria listed above, you must show the following in order to be granted indefinite permission to remain as a spouse:

  • When you’ve been in the spouse category, you and your spouse have resided together in the UK, or there has been a reasonable cause for any time when you haven’t done so
  • You satisfy the English language criterion of CEFR Level B1
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test

Joining Your Unmarried Partner Who is Settled in the UK

The Unmarried Partner Visa is also obtainable to long-term partners who are British or Irish citizens, people who are already living in the UK, people with pre-settled status, people with Turkish Worker or Business Visas and people who have refugee status or humanitarian protection and want to join or stay with their unmarried partner in the country.

If your unmarried partner lives abroad but plans to go back to the UK with you, you can also seek a UK Unmarried Partner Visa. After five years, the UK Unmarried Partner Visa can be adjusted to reflect ILR status.

A partner’s eligibility for the Unmarried Partner Visa may be approved if they fulfill one of the following criteria:

  • Be a British or Irish citizen in the UK
  • Have indefinite leave to remain, settled status, or permanent residence in the UK
  • Are already settled in the UK under Appendix EU
  • Have restricted leave to remain as a Turkish Worker under Appendix ECAA

There are several components to the UK Unmarried Partner Visa relationship requirement:

  • You and your partner must have really met
  • You two must have lived together in a relationship that is comparable to marriage or a civil partnership (for at least two years)
  • Your relationship must be genuine and ongoing
  • Your intention must be to live together in the UK permanently with your spouse
  • Any previous relationship must have ended – you will be required to evidence this via a death certificate or divorce decree

you with the The UK Settlement Visa.

How Can IAS Help?

IAS has a team of skilled and competent legal advisors with in-depth knowledge of various UK visas.

We can help you in settling permanently in the United Kingdom through various pathways depending on your circumstances.

For more information, please contact us through our Live Chat, leave a message, or give us a call at (+44) 333 4149244 to speak to one of our qualified immigration and visa experts.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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