Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite leave to remain 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 the 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 the important benefits of being settled is that children born to you in the UK will be  British by birth. They will not need to be registered as British citizens, 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.


Indefinite leave to remain after five years continuous lawful residence

The most common immigration categories leading to settlement after five 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. Ancestry visa;
  5. Sole representative of an overseas business;
  6. Innovator;
  7. Global talent.

Dependants of the main visa holders in the above categories can also apply for indefinite leave to remain. Residence requirements for the dependants vary depending on the type of the visa of the main visa holder.

General requirements for indefinite leave to remain

  1. You have to have spent in the UK a continuous period of time which varies (from two to 10 years) depending on the category you are applying in.
  2. 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.
  3. Knowledge of English to B1 level or above. You can meet the requirement by passing the language test with an approved test provider 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.
  4. Knowledge of Life in the UK. This is a separate test from the language test. 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.
  5. Good character requirement – check the 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 requirements for ILR in addition to the general requirements listed above.

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);
  • 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.

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:

  • Tier 1 Exceptional talent, Entrepreneur and Investor;
  • Tier 2 General, 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 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.

Accelerated settlement

Entrepreneur, investor, innovator and global talent routes allow accelerated settlement in less than five years.

The qualifying investment for settlement after three years of residence is £5 million, or £10 million for settlement after two years of residence.

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 qualify 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 3 years. Visa holders endorsed by Tech Nation or Arts Council England qualify for accelerated settlement if they were endorsed under “talent” criteria.

The qualifying period for dependants is five years independently of whether the main applicant qualified under the accelerated route or not.


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 the migrant commits a serious criminal offence.

Similar to other immigration categories, indefinite leave to remain is evidenced by a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The BRP is issued for 10 years. The end date on the BRP is not the same as the expiry date of ILR. It only shows the date of validity of the document. If you have accidentally overlooked the expiry date of your BRP with indefinite leave to remain endorsement, you haven’t lost your right of residence. However, it is advisable to apply for a new document before the expiry of the previous one.

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.

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Kadmos Consultants - Knowledge Hub

How Kadmos lawyers can help with your application for ILR

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.

As part of our work, we will first check that 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

and we are happy to help


Last updated on August 28, 2020

Last updated on August 28, 2020