Indefinite Leave to Remain
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) means permission to remain in the UK without any restrictions. It is not the same as British citizenship and does not give you entitlement to a British passport. People who hold indefinite leave to remain are regarded as settled in the UK.
Settled status is an equivalent of indefinite leave to remain granted to EEA nationals and their family members under the EU Settlement scheme.
People who have indefinite leave to remain or settled status are called settled.
One of important benefits of being settled 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 nationality. All you need to do is apply for their British passport.
Children born in the UK at the time when neither parent is settled, are entitled to be registered as British citizens as soon as at least one of the parents is granted ILR.
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ILR: General requirements
- You have to have spent a continuous period of time in the UK, which varies (from two to 10 years) depending on the category you are applying in.
- 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.
- 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 applying for settled status do not have to meet the language requirement.
- Knowledge of Life in the UK. This is a separate test from a language provider. Persons over 65 and children under 18 are exempt. EEA nationals are not required to take this test for settled status application. The test is valid for life and you can rely on the results in your application for naturalisation.
- Good character requirement – the applicant must not fall under the General grounds for refusal. See the section on General grounds for refusal below.
The same requirements apply to partners of the main visa holders. Absence restrictions or continuous residence requirements do not apply to partners of ancestry visa holders. Dependent children qualify for ILR at the same time as dependent partner of the main applicant.
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 settlement after 5 years of residence are:
- Spouse or Partner visa;
- Tier 1 visa;
- Skilled Worker or Tier 2 visa (with the exception of Tier 2 ICT);
- Scale-up visa;
- Ancestry visa;
- Sole representative of an overseas business;
- Global talent (exceptional promise criteria in Arts and culture or digital technology).
Dependants of the main visa holders in the above categories can also apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Residence requirements for the dependants are usually five years of continuous residence.
However, this requirement does not apply to dependants of ancestry visa holders who can settle at the same time as the main applicant independently of their period of residence.
ILR after 10 years of continuous lawful residence
You can apply to settle in the UK if you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years (known as ‘long residence’).
You must have:
- been in the UK legally for 10 years (known as your ‘continuous residence’). Continuous residence is time you’ve spent in the UK without gaps. The allowed gaps are: 180 days at a time / 540 days in total absences. Time spent in a prison, young offender institution, secure hospital, Ireland, the Isle of Man or Channel Islands is excluded from continued residence.
- Your 10-year qualifying period starts from either (i) when you arrived in the UK with a visa, or (ii) when you were given permission to stay in the UK.
- kept to the terms of your UK visa
if you’re aged 18 to 65 years old, you must have:
- passed the Life in the UK Test
- proved you have sufficient English language skills
You’ll need to provide:
- a current passport or other valid travel ID
- your biometric residence permit (BRP) if you have one
- all the passports you’ve held during your time in the UK
You would be required to provide a certified translation if the documents are not in English or Welsh. Additional documents may be requested.
The fee for ILR after 10 years depends on whether you want to settle or extend your stay. It would cost £2,389 to settle, in comparison to £1,033 to stay (in addition to a biometrics fee of £19.20). There is also an option to get a faster decision by paying for a super priority service.
Your family members (‘dependants’) can also apply separately if they’re eligible.
See our page on the long residence ILR for more information
General Grounds for Refusal of ILR application
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);
- 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.
Entrepreneur, investor, innovator and global talent routes allow accelerated settlement in less than 5 years.
The qualifying investment for settlement after three years of residence is £5 million, or £10 million for settlement after two years of residence. This route closed for new applicants on 17 of February 2022.
Tier 1 Entrepreneurs may qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years of residence if their business has created at least 10 new jobs or received at least £5 million in income from business activities.
Innovators are eligible for ILR after three years of residence. They have to achieve at least two goals from the list of options.
Global Talent visa holders endorsed by one of the four Science bodies qualify for accelerated settlement in three years. Visa holders endorsed by Tech Nation or Arts Council England qualify for accelerated settlement if they were endorsed under “talent” criteria.
Accelerated settlement is not available for dependants.
A child born in the UK is eligible to be registered as a British citizenship as soon one of the parents becomes settled, but partners and children born outside the UK will have to spend additional time to reach a continuous residence of five years before being eligible for indefinite leave to remain.
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 may be counted towards the five-year qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain in the UK provided you are applying in an eligible work category and your leave in the Crown Dependency was in an equivalent or similar category.
The eligible visa categories under the UK immigration rules are:
- Global Talent, Entrepreneur and Investor;
- Skilled Worker, Sportsperson and Minister of religion;
- Ancestry visa holders
It is important to note that the continuous residence and, if applicable, the continuous employment requirements apply to the time spent in the Crown Dependencies as well as the time spent in the UK during the relevant five-year period.
Although not being part of the UK for immigration purposes, the Crown Dependencies are defined as part of the UK under the British Nationality Act and persons born there may qualify for British citizenship.
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 £800. 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.
ILR may be revoked if you commit a serious criminal offence.
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:
- You obtained leave by deception
- You were granted leave as a refugee and now have ceased to be a refugee
- 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)).
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.
We are experts
Last updated on 25 April 2023
Last updated on March 08, 2022