Indefinite leave to remain, or settlement, is permission to remain in the UK without restrictions.
An application for settlement can be made by migrants in certain categories normally (with some exceptions) after five years of residence in the UK.
Qualifying categories for ILR
- Spouse or partner of a person settled in the UK;
- Tier 1 migrants (with the exception of Tier 1 PSW) and their dependants;
- Tier 2 (General) migrants and their dependants;
- Ancestry visa holders;
- Domestic workers covered by transitional arrangements;
- Migrants in closed categories, such as HSMP or Work Permit holders, and their dependants.
In addition to the above, indefinite leave to remain can be granted on the basis of long residence where the migrant has completed 10 years of lawful residence in the UK.
General grounds for refusal of ILR
General grounds for refusal of indefinite leave to remain are set out under paragraph 322 (1C) of the immigration rules:
- convictions which had led to a sentence of imprisonment of 4 years or more; (there is no amnesty period under this sub-paragraph)
- convictions which had led to a sentence of imprisonment from 12 months to under 4 years, unless 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence;
- sentence to imprisonment for less than 12 months, unless 7 years have passed since the end of the sentence;
- any non-custodial sentence, caution or warning within 24 months prior to the date of the decision on the application.
ILR requirements applicable in all categories
All applicants for indefinite leave to remain should pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test and English language test to B2 standard. The list of approved tests and authorised test providers is published by the Home Office.
Is ILR granted for life?
As a general principle, ILR does not expire, even if the stamp in the passport has a termination date. This termination date is normally in line with the validity of the passport and does not set a time limit on indefinite leave to remain.
However, absences from the UK for a period of two years or more would usually lead to loss of entitlement to ILR.
In cases of serious criminal offences ILR may be revoked.
One of the important benefits of settlement is that children born to a parent settled in the UK are British citizens by birth. Children born before either of the parents is settled would normally apply for registration at the same time as at least one of the parents is applying for naturalisation.