Indefinite Leave to Remain


What is indefinite leave to remain

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) means permission to remain in the UK without any restrictions. People who hold indefinite leave to remain are regarded as settled in the UK.

Although the terms indefinite leave to remain and settled status are interchangeable, settled status is often used as a shorthand for indefinite leave to remain granted to EU nationals and their family members under Appendix EU of the Immigration Rules. It has significant advantages over indefinite leave to remain under any other part of the rules.

Indefinite leave to remain is given for life, but it is lost if you are out of the country for two years. If you are an EU national with settled status, your ILR is lost after an absence from the UK of five years, and if you are a Swiss citizen, after an absence of four years.

ILR is not the same as British citizenship and does not give you entitlement to apply for a British passport. 

People who have indefinite leave to remain or settled status are called settled.

Benefits of indefinite leave to remain

Benefits of ILRILR carries with it the right to work in the UK, the right to set up a business, sponsor workers from overseas, receive state benefits, use the NHS and study in the UK universities paying as a domestic student.

You are eligible to apply for British citizenship 12 months after you were granted indefinite leave to remain, unless you are married to a British citizen – in which case you are entitled to apply for naturalisation immediately after you are granted settled status.

Children of persons with ILR or settled status

One of the important benefits of indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or settled status, is that children born to a settled parent in the UK are British citizens by birth. They will not need to be registered to acquire British citizenship even if they also have citizenship of the countries of nationality of the parents. All you need to do is apply for their British passport.

Children born in the UK before either of the parents becomes settled are entitled to be registered as British citizens as soon as at least one of the parents is granted ILR. You can apply for registration of your child before the child reaches the age of 18. You will not be able to make the application after the child’s 18th birthday.

A child born outside the UK to a person who was previously granted indefinite leave to remain does not become a British citizen at birth and needs a visa to settle in the UK.

Children of EEA nationals with settled status

A child born in the UK to an EEA national with a settled status under Appendix EU is a British citizen by birth even if neither parent of the child is a British citizen. 

A child born outside the UK to an EEA national with a settled status does not become British at birth. However, the child is entitled to apply for a family permit to join the settled parent in the UK.

Appendix EU is more generous to children than any other parts of the immigration rules. Children are treated as children up to their 21st birthday and get immigration status in line with their settled parent. They are not required to spend a qualifying period in the UK and will not lose their settled status unless they are absent from the UK for five years or more.

General requirements for indefinite leave to remain

Requirements for indefinite leave to remain depend on the type of visa you hold at the time of the application. There are some general requirements which apply to most, if not all, immigration categories. 

  1. Requirement to have lived in the UK for a requisite period of time. For the majority of applicants the required period is 5 years, but some immigration categories offer accelerated settlement after 3 years of residence. In some circumstances you may only become eligible for ILR after you have lived in the UK for 10 years continuously.

    Dependants of ancestry visa holders and representatives of an overseas business are not required to have lived in the UK for any requisite period of time and can apply for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as the main visa holders.

  2. Continuous residence. For most (but not all) immigration categories there is a restriction on the number of days you can be absent from the UK during the period of residence you are relying on. Continuous residence requirement normally limits the number of days you can be absent from the UK to 180 days in any 12 month period.
  3. Knowledge of English to B1 level or above. You can meet the requirement by passing an accredited English language test or by having a University degree which was taught or researched in English. The language requirement does not apply to children under 18 or persons over 65 years old.

    EEA nationals and their family members applying for indefinite leave to remain under the EU settlement scheme do not have to meet the language requirement. 

  4. Knowledge of Life in the UK. This is a separate test from the language test described above. The test is mandatory for anyone outside the EU settlement scheme, except persons over the age of 65 and children under 18 are exempt.

    EEA nationals who are sponsored in the UK or have permission to remain outside the EU settlement scheme are not exempt from the Life in the UK test.

    Life in the UK test is valid for life and you will need your test certificate again if you decide to apply for British citizenship.

  5. Suitability requirement – the applicant must not fall for refusal under the General grounds for refusal. These include criminal convictions punished with a prison sentence of 12 months or more, multiple convictions and criminal offences which caused serious harm.

The above requirements apply to the dependent partner of the main visa holder. 

Each immigration route has its own ILR requirements in addition to the general requirements listed above.

ILR after 5 years of continuous lawful residence

The most common immigration categories leading to indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of residence are:

  1. Spouse or Partner visa;
  2. Tier 1 visa;
  3. Skilled Worker or Tier 2 visa (with the exception of Tier 2 ICT);
  4. Scale-up visa;
  5. Ancestry visa;
  6. Sole representative of an overseas business;
  7. Global talent (may also be eligible for accelerated settlement, unless endorsed under exceptional promise criteria in Arts and Culture or Digital Technology).

Dependent partner of the main visa holders in the above categories can also apply for indefinite leave to remain having met the residence requirement, English language and Life in the UK requirement.

However, residence requirement does not apply to dependent partner of the ancestry visa holders or the sole representative of an overseas business who can settle at the same time as the main applicant independently of their period of residence.

Children can apply for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as the second parent, although they may be eligible to be registered as British citizens before then if born in the UK.

ILR on the basis of Long Residence

You can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK if have lived in the country legally for a continuous period of 10 years (known as ‘long residence rule’).

Continuous residence is the time you’ve spent in the UK without gaps.

This time may be made up of different immigration categories, such as student visa, dependent in any work related category, work related or family visa. Time spent in the UK as a visitor does not count.

The allowed absences are: up to 180 days at a time or 540 days in total during the qualifying 10-year period.

If you left the UK and returned with a new visa within 6 months, the time when you were out of the country and did not have a visa counts as your absence. If you are out of the UK for more than six months, the continuity of your residence is broken.

Time spent in a prison, young offender institution, secure hospital, Ireland, the Isle of Man or Channel Islands is excluded from continued residence.

Child born in the UK with 7 years continuous residence

A child born in the UK may be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 7 years of continuous residence. There is no requirement for the child to have a permission to stay during these 7 years, but the decision maker must be satisfied that it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the UK – therefore the entitlement to ILR is not automatic.

Accelerated settlement

Innovator and global talent routes allow accelerated settlement after 3 years of residence.

Accelerated settlement is not available for dependants.

Time spent in the Crown Dependencies

The Crown Dependencies are the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey.  These territories have their own immigration systems, but time spent there generally counts towards the five-year qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain in the UK provided your last grant of leave was in the UK, you are applying in an eligible work category and your leave in the Crown Dependency was in an equivalent or similar category.

However, since the changes introduced in April 2024 with the new Appendix Long Residence, time spent in the Crown Dependencies does not count towards the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain under the long residence rule.


An application for ILR is made from the UK. The application is made online and the form depends on your immigration status at the time of application.

The standard service for indefinite leave to remain application is up to 6 months. However,  priority or super priority service may be available at an extra cost of £500 or £1000. Processing time with priority applications is 5 business days and for super priority applications it is 24 hours from the date of the biometric appointment.

You will not need a biometric appointment if you have the Skilled Worker visa at the time of application. Instead, you will be able to use UK immigration: ID check app to upload your biometric information.

Once your application for indefinite leave to remain is approved, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The expiry date on the card will be 31 December 2024. This is not the expiry date of your indefinite leave to remain. The UK is moving to digital immigration status checks and plastic cards will be removed from circulation from 2025.

There is no time limit on indefinite leave to remain, but it is automatically invalidated if you leave the UK for more than two years.

If you have accidentally overlooked the expiry date of your BRP with indefinite leave to remain endorsement, this does not mean that you have lost your right of residence. However, it is advisable to apply for a new document before the expiry of the previous one – such as 3 months in advance of expiry.

The application is made online. You will be invited for a new biometric appointment. You will be required to submit additional documents showing that you have been resident in the UK and that your ILR has not lapsed due to absences.

You must tell the Home Office if your personal details change, such as your name or gender, or if your facial appearance changes significantly. You should use the BRP replacement service to do this, after which you will receive a new BRP with adjusted details. 

Your indefinite leave may be revoked (taken away) if: 

  1. You obtained leave by deception
  2. You were granted leave as a refugee and now have ceased to be a refugee
  3. You are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons (such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)). 
Kadmos Consultants - Knowledge Hub

How Kadmos immigration lawyers can help with your Indefinite Leave to Remain application

Whatever your immigration category, we are happy to help with legal advice and represent you in the application.

You never want to risk the consequences of refusal of ILR application and it is most important to prepare it as carefully as possible.

Our London based immigration lawyers will always check if you fully meet the requirements of the rules. If there are any grounds for concern, we will advise you in advance and will discuss with you all possible options and how to mitigate the risks.

We take pride in our success rate which for ILR applications is 100% since we were established in 2006.

Do you need help with your ILR application?

Tells us about your case and get a quote for legal representation

Last updated on June 5, 2024

Last updated on June 5, 2024

We aim to answer all enquiries within three business hours

Your message has been sent, thank you for getting in touch!

We aim to answer all enquiries within three business hours.