Apply For Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
Permission to enter and stay in the UK (‘Leave’) can be granted to a person for a specified period of time, known as Limited Leave, or can be granted for an indefinite time, known as Indefinite Leave. The granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) is often also referred to as “Settlement”, as this is essentially what the permission amounts to. A migrant who is granted ILR is permitted to live and work in the UK without restrictions.
Most migrants will need to have been granted one or more periods of limited leave before being able to apply for Settlement/ ILR. The length of time that they will complete in the UK before they can apply for ILR is referred to as the “qualifying period”. The qualifying period will depend on the category and the circumstances of their leave in the UK.
For example: A migrant spouse of a settled person who meets the financial requirements will be required to complete 60 months in the UK before they can apply for ILR; a migrant spouse of a settled person who does NOT meet the financial requirements, is required to complete a period of 10 years in the UK before they can apply for ILR.
What are the Eligibility requirements for ILR application:
You must meet the requirements set out in the Immigration Rules which are relevant to the visa category which you are apply from.
- All applicants aged 18-64 must meet the two parts of the Knowledge of Language and Life (“KOLL”) requirement by :
- Passing the Life in the UK test, and
- Meeting one of the following language qualifications:
- having a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR),or
- having a degree that was taught or researched in English, or
- being a national of an English-speaking country.
Exemption From The KOLL Requirement
The two categories which are exempt from the KOLL requirement are: Bereaved Partner and Highly Skilled Migrant
- Applicant’s will need to meet the residency requirements. In most cases this will be to attain at least 5 consecutive years of residence in the UK.
- Applicant’s should meet the good character requirements
Once you have been granted ILR it is important that you are not be absent from the UK for two years or more. If you are absent for a period of more than 2 years, your ILR status will be curtailed.
You will be eligible to apply for British citizenship after you are granted ILR. In most circumstances, you become eligible to apply for citizenship after having ILR for 12 months. There are some exceptions to this for different visa categories.
Indefinite leave to remain: The 5 years route
After spending a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, a person may be eligible to make an application for Indefinite Leave to remain. This is the most common route of gaining ILR in the UK.
Whether or not a person will be eligible to apply after 5 years will depend on the visa category which they are currently in the UK with and subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.
To find out if you are eligible to apply for ILR after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, contact our office to speak with a specialist Immigration Adviser.
Indefinite leave to remain: The 10 years route
A migrant would be able to apply to settle in the UK if they have been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years. This is known as ‘long residence’, or the ’10 year route’. A migrant could apply for ILR as a long resident if they have:
- been in the UK legally for 10 years (known as your ‘continuous residence’)
- kept to the terms of their UK visa
- the applicant must meet the knowledge of language and life requirement
- there must be no reason why granting leave is against the public good
Continuous residence is time you’ve spent in the UK without gaps.
For the long residence route, you can leave the UK during the continuous residence for up to:
- 180 days at a time
- 540 days in total
Applying as a Spouse of a settled person:
It should be noted that significant changes to the immigration rules took place in 2012. Before this, a family member of someone who is present and settled in the UK would be granted a visa for two years initially. After this 2 year temporary visa, if they were still in a genuine and subsisting relationship, they could apply for Indefinite leave.
However, the immigrations rules were tightened and the process of apply for ILR became longer after changes to the rules in 2012.
At present, if your initial visa in the UK was as a spouse/ family member of, you will be initially granted a visa that lasts 30 months (i.e. 2 and a half years). After this period, you will need to apply again for another 30 months. Only you have spent 5 years in the UK, that is you have been granted limited leave to remain twice, will you be eligible to apply for ILR.
In most cases, you would be required to be an ILR holder for 12 months before you could apply for naturalisation. However, under the new rules, a spouse who has been in the UK lawfully for a period of 5 years, is eligible to apply for naturalisation immediately after being granted ILR.
What documents do you need to submit:
As with all applications, you will be required to provide the appropriate documentary evidence to prove that you meet the required criteria.
In general, the documents that are required for applications for Indefinite leave to reman include:
- Completed application form
- Submit the appropriate application fee
- a current passport or other valid travel ID
- your biometric residence permit card, if you have one
- all the passports you’ve held during your time in the UK
- 2 passport size colour photographs
- Evidence of continued residence for any dependent(s)
- The Life in the UK test certificate
- Evidence that you meet the English Language requirements, as stated above
For each visa category, there will be specific documentary evidence that the Home Office will require from the applicant. It is very important that all the relevant documents are submitted with the application form. If documents are missing, this could be a reason to refuse the application.
Visa Refusal FAQ:
You may be able to send a new application. You will not be refunded for this application. Therefore due care should be taken to ensure the application form is completed correctly and that you meet the eligibility and suitability criteria.
Before making another application, you should identify the reasons that your application was refused and understand if these are matters that can be corrected in your future applications.
For example, you may meet the criteria for ILR, but did not provided adequate documentary evidence, in which case you should ensure that for the next application the correct documents are provided. Another example is that you may have completed an incorrect section of the application form. In this case you should ensure that only the appropriate sections which apply to you should be completed and should be completed correctly.
How can we help?
At Master Legal Services we have extensive experience in settlement applications fro all visa categories.
T: 020 8935 5205