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Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite Leave to Remain is an immigration status available to someone who has been living lawfully in the UK for five years or more.

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What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a type of immigration that allows people to stay in the UK without any imposed immigration conditions.

Usually, ILR is available to those who have been living lawfully in the United Kingdom for five years, although some may be eligible for ILR status after just three years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain is the final stage before becoming a British citizen. You can apply for British citizenship when you’ve held ILR for a minimum of 12 months.

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What are the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain application?

Before you can be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain status, there are a number of requirements that must first be met.

The first of those ILR requirements is you must have been living lawfully in the country for a specified amount of time. This is typically five years, although in some circumstances it may be three years.

There are also some other ILR qualification criteria you must meet to be eligible. These are the following:

  • Must not have broken any laws or breached any immigration conditions during the time you’ve spent in the country
  • Must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the country during any 12-month period since you arrived in the UK
  • Must pass an English language test to at least B1 level
  • Must pass the Life in the UK test

Holders of these visas may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years:

  • Innovator visa, depending on their business achievements
  • Entrepreneur Visa, depending on business activities
  • Global Talent visa, if you won an eligible award, was endorsed by an eligible organisation, or your last endorsement was given under “exceptional talent” criteria

Also, Investor visa holders may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after two or three years, depending on their business activities.

In addition, commonwealth citizens that served in the British Armed Forces can apply after living in the UK for a continuous period of 4 years.

Which UK visas count towards minimum residency requirements for ILR?

As stated already, when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’ll need to have been in the UK for a specified period of time on an existing visa. Time spent in the country on other long-term visas should count towards those minimum residency requirements, although time spent in the UK on short-term visas such as the Tier 5 temporary work visa or UK settlement visa will not.

The following visas/immigration permissions will count towards your minimum residency requirements:

  • Spouse visas or civil partner visas
  • Partner visas
  • Global Talent visa
  • Exceptional Talent visa
  • Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • Investor visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Start Up visa
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Travel visa
  • Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson visa
  • Retirement person visa
  • UK Ancestry visa
  • Long Residence

The minimum UK residence time on the visas is 3-5 years. However, 3-5 years does not apply in some circumstances. An example is the holders of the Long Residence Visa. Those over 18 need a 10 years qualifying period to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain, while those under 18 need a qualifying period of 7 years.

When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

In most cases, you need to have been living in the UK for at least five years before you can be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status. In some circumstances, you may be eligible for ILR after three.

The exceptions to the five-year qualifying period rule are for those who have lived in the United Kingdom under the following via/immigration permissions:

  • Innovator visa – with this you’ll be eligible after three years
  • Global Talent visa – with this you’ll be eligible after three years if you received your last endorsement under the “exceptional talent”, “exceptional promise” or “endorsed funder” fast track criteria
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa – with this you’ll be eligible after three years
  • Tier 1 Investor visa – with this you’ll be eligible after two or three years, depending on the amount you have/are investing
  • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – with this you’ll be eligible after three years if the last endorsement you received was under “exceptional talent” or “exceptional promise” for the Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy or British Society

Additionally, if you’re a Commonwealth citizen who has served in the British Armed Forces then you’ll usually be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after being a resident in the UK for four years.

By contrast, there are actually some situations where someone applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain must have been in the UK for longer than five years. Included in this is those who have been living in the country on a ‘Long Residence’ visa.

There are some individuals who will automatically receive settled status, without the need to submit an ILR application form. These include the following:

  • Dependant of a UK citizen or a settled person who requires long-term care
  • Child dependant of a UK citizen or person with settled status
  • Refugee settled in the UK via the Gateway Protection Program

Details about the English language requirement for ILR

In order to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’ll need to demonstrate that you possess at least B1-level English.

The B1 standard is set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and passing to this level will prove that your reading, writing, listening and speaking of English is to the standard required to live in the UK.

You must therefore pass a SELT test at an approved test centre for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There are four SELT test providers approved by the Home Office: Trinity College London, IELTS Self Consortium, Pearson Education LTD and LanguageCERT. There are a combined 13 test centres across the country, so you can choose the one that’s closest to your location.

When you attend your test, you’ll need to take with you something to prove your identity, such as a biometric residence permit (BRP), government identity card, passport or driving licence. If you pass the test, you’ll receive a reference number that you will use on your Indefinite Leave to Remain application.

People who come from the following countries will not be required to complete the test:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

In addition, there are a number of exemptions including:

  • Those aged 65 and over
  • Those who have a degree taught in English
  • Those suffering long-term mental or physical health issues
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • Partner or spouse of a British citizen or settled person who has died

Details about the Life in the UK test for ILR

In order to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’ll need to pass the Life in the UK test (otherwise known as the British Citizenship test). Unless you are aged under 18, over 65 or have a physical or mental condition, you will need to pass the test.

This test is a multiple-choice exam that assesses your knowledge of the culture, history and traditions of the United Kingdom. It costs the applicant £50 to sit the test.

On the day of the test, you’ll receive 24 randomly generated questions and you will have 45 minutes to answer them. To achieve a pass, you will need to score at least 75%.

There are around 30 test centres across the country, but you can usually only choose from the five closest to your location.

In the event you fail the test, you can sit the test again after seven days. There is no limit on the number of times you can sit the test.

When attending the Life in the UK test, as with the English language test, you’ll need to bring some official documentation with you such as your passport, biometric residence permit (BRP) or driving licence. You are also required to take with you a letter or bank statement showing proof of your home address.

How will periods of absence affect my ILR application?

When you make an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, your periods of absence from the UK matter. In most cases, you must not have spent over 180 days outside of the country in any 12-month period during your qualifying period.

There are, however, some exceptional circumstances in which you will still be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, even if you have spent longer than the allowed time outside the UK in a 12-month period.

If your period of absence from the country was for any of the following reasons, then you may still be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain even if you exceeded the 180-day limit:

  • Serious illness to yourself or a close relative
  • Involvement in a conflict
  • Natural disaster
  • Work undertaken overseas by certain full-time members of the Armed Forces

Similarly, periods of absence from the country taken by ILR applicants who hold the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa may not affect their application for ILR in some circumstances.

If you’d like to find out whether or not your time overseas will affect your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, then get in touch with our Newcastle immigration lawyers on 020 4502 8582

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What documents are required when making an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

When making an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’ll need to supply a portfolio of supporting evidence. This evidence will be made up of supporting documents, and it should also contain information regarding any dependants who are also included in your application.

Please note that these documents must be in their original form. No photocopies will be accepted. If you cannot locate the original copies then you must purchase replacements. In some cases, the Home Office will show leniency if there is a good reason why the originals cannot be submitted.

If any of the supporting documents you provide are not in English or Welsh, they must be translated by an accredited translator. When you submit your Indefinite Leave to Remain application, both the original and translated copies must be provided.

You’ll need to submit the following when making your ILR application:

  • Passport and travel documents
  • Birth/adoption certificates
  • Immigration history
  • Information pertaining to time spent outside the country during qualifying period, as well as reasons for absences
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Life in the UK test pass Certificate (unless exempted)
  • Certificate for English language test (unless exempted)

Indefinite Leave to Remain application process and fees

Before you complete and submit your Indefinite Leave to Remain application form, you should prepare your portfolio of supporting evidence. Once you’ve prepared all your documents, then you can begin your ILR application process starting with filling the form.

There are two forms for Indefinite Leave to Remain and the one you need to submit depends on your particular circumstances. Form Set (M) should be completed if you are applying on the basis that you are the partner of someone or parent of a child who is already settled in the UK.

Form Set (0) is for any other type of Indefinite Leave to Remain application.

Currently, the fee for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application is £2,389. It’s important to remember that there will be other costs involved, such as the Life in the UK and English language tests unless of course, you are exempt from those requirements. The translation of documents will also need to be arranged by yourself, which will also come at an additional cost.

How long before an Indefinite Leave to Remain decision is made?

You can usually expect a home office’s decision to be made within six months of the application being received. This is assuming the Home Office has no concerns with your application, which could cause some delays.

For instance, you may be required to provide some additional information that could cause some delays in the decision on your application. This is why it’s imperative the application form is filled out to the highest possible standard and all of your supporting documentation is included.

The supporting documentation will depend largely on your circumstances. Our highly-trained lawyers are experts in Indefinite Leave to Remain and UK immigration. They can provide guidance on the application process and assist you with submitting all the necessary evidence, so give us a call today on (number) for more information.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Application with Skilled Worker Visa (Tier 2)

You can apply for ILR after living in the UK continuously and lawfully for 5 years with a skilled worker visa. To do that, you must meet all the ILR requirements listed here (including English and periods of absence requirement) and requirements that include:

  • Providing proof that your employer still needs you for your employment
  • Meeting the financial (salary) requirements for holders of skilled worker visa

The salary requirements depend on your job. In general, your annual salary must be at least £25,600 unless the ongoing rate for your job is higher than that. If the ongoing rate is higher, your salary should be higher than the ongoing rate.

Please note that the ongoing rate for different jobs differ, and different rules apply to the healthcare and education fields (national pay scales apply here). Also, in some circumstances, you may be eligible if your salary is at least £20,480.

What is the continuous lawful period for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

The continuous lawful period for ILR refers to the time you have spent in the UK as a lawful citizen. Your time spent in the country will be classed as lawful, providing the following:

  • During the time you’ve spent in the UK, you have had valid leave to enter or remain
  • You are able to provide adequate evidence of your time spent overseas if requested
  • You haven’t undertaken any work abroad whilst in this country on a work permit
  • While here, you have not spent any time in prison
  • You have not overstayed your immigration period or contravened any immigration rules and laws

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Can the Home Office revoke my Indefinite Leave to Remain status?

Once you receive your Indefinite Leave to Remain Status, you have settled status and are free to live in the United Kingdom without being subject to your previous immigration conditions.

With that said, it’s important to remember that ILR status can be revoked under certain circumstances. These include the following:

  • If you are convicted of a criminal offence
  • You were granted ILR status as a refugee but you are no longer classed as a refugee
  • You are liable for deportation
  • It is found that you obtained ILR by deception

In addition, if you leave the United Kingdom for more than two years in a single period, then your leave to remain indefinitely will be revoked and you’ll lose permanent residency.

Also, when leaving the UK, always take your BRP to avoid being refused to enter the UK.

Once I obtain ILR, when can I get full British citizenship?

Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain can be described as the penultimate stage in your immigration journey and the final stepping stone towards full British citizenship. If you plan is to remain in the UK long-term, it makes sense to apply to become a British citizen (or dual citizenship) as you will receive the same rights, freedoms, and full benefits as someone who was born in the country as a British Citizen.

Once you have held ILR status for one year, you are then eligible to apply to become a full British citizen. Keep in mind you won’t automatically receive British citizenship after your first year with ILR status; you’ll need to complete and submit the British citizenship application.

When applying for full British citizenship, the requirements are very similar to ILR. So, assuming your circumstances remain the same after being granted ILR, then you should face no issues obtaining full British citizenship.

Although both ILR and full British citizenship allow you to live in the UK free from restrictions, keep in mind that it’s only as British citizens that are you will able to apply for a British passport.

How can I settle in the UK if I am from the EU?

EU citizens can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if they desire to settle in the UK, instead of Indefinite Leave to Remain. That also applies to EEA and Swiss citizens.

This settlement scheme enables those in the EEA to live and work in the UK if they have been doing so before 31st December 2020. This grants you settled UK status so you have lawful residence and are free from visa restriction from 30 June 2021.

Keep in mind that if you failed to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme on 30 June 2021, you might still be able to, depending on your circumstances.

With this immigration route, immediate family members or a dependant child might be able to join you.

What can I do if my ILR application is rejected?

Understanding why your Indefinite Leave to Remain application was rejected is crucial. If your application is rejected, then the reasons will be set out in your refusal letter.

If there are any errors in your application, then you can rectify these and submit another application.

On the other hand, if you believe your application was rejected unjustly, then you can opt to challenge the decision. If for instance, you believe that a genuine error has occurred during the process, then you can ask for an administrative review and your application will be reconsidered by an immigration official.

Alternatively, you may even be able to lodge a full-scale legal appeal, but to do this you must have good reason as this course of action is only used in exceptional cases.

If you’ve had your ILR application rejected and you’d like to challenge the decision, our Newcastle immigration lawyers are here to help you with every step of the way. So, give us a call now for more information.

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Rights under Indefinite Leave to Remain

Those with Leave to Remain indefinitely in the UK can work, live, and study in the UK without any immigration restrictions. Also, you become eligible for the NHS free healthcare.

ILR is a form of UK permanent residence. As such, if you are successful with your ILR application, you will receive a biometric residence permit (BRP), settled status and the right to register for UK citizenship.

Although you have ILR and a BRP, you will not automatically receive British citizenship; you can apply after the qualifying period. With that, you can apply for a British passport.

Who does not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

You do not need to apply for ILR if you already have settled status. Some individuals have an automatic right to settlement depending on their circumstances.

Particularly, children born in the UK to parent(s) who are British citizens or have settled status may be permitted to remain in the UK for an indefinite time. That is because they acquire citizenship automatically, so ILR is not needed.

In addition, refugees who came to the UK under the Gateway Protection Program may be granted the right to remain in the UK indefinitely with the same rights as those with ILR.

How can your Newcastle immigration lawyers help me with my application?

Our Newcastle immigration lawyers are professionals, highly-trained in all aspects of immigration law. We will help you formulate your Indefinite Leave to Remain application to the highest possible standards, maximising your chances of getting the indefinite leave to remain decision you are hoping for.

When working with you on your ILR application, your case worker will:

  • Meet you to discuss your case
  • Establish your eligibility
  • Advise on documents required for application
  • Complete the application form to the highest possible standard
  • Prepare portfolio of evidence
  • Help you prepare for your English language test
  • Help you prepare for the Life in the UK test
  • Liaise with Home Office throughout the process
  • Keep you informed of the progress of your application in the processing stage

To find out more information about our ILR application package, give us a call on 020 4502 8582 and we’d be delighted to assist.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are the spouse of a British citizen and you’re a Spouse Visa Holder then you can apply for Leave to Remain indefinitely. In order to be eligible, you must have spent at least five years living in the UK under the Spouse Visa to be eligible.

The Spouse Visa lasts for 30 months, although it can be extended at the end of that period for another 30 months to take the applicant up to the five years required to qualify for ILR.

When granted leave to remain indefinitely, you will be free to remain in the UK without any imposed immigration restrictions, so effectively you’ll have permanent residence in the country.

You will have a biometric residence permit (BRP) that identifies you as a holder of ILR status.

Once you’ve held ILR status for 12 months, you are free to apply for full British citizenship.

If you have any criminal convictions – spent or unspent – then it’s highly likely these will be taken into consideration by the Home Office when making a decision on your ILR application.

Having said that, criminal convictions aren’t necessarily terminal to your chances of obtaining ILR. Whether or not your application is rejected will depend on the severity of the crime(s) committed.

Before applying for ILR, you should consult with an immigration lawyer to discuss your chances of being given ILR status.

If you have received leave to remain indefinitely, some circumstances can lead to you losing that. Your ILR can be taken away if you:

  • Received ILR as a refugee but are no longer a refugee
  • used deception to obtain leave to remain in the UK indefinitely
  • Are liable to deportation but cannot be deported due to legal reasons
  • Are deported from the UK
  • Are absent from the United Kingdom for 2 years or more (or 5 years or more if you received ILR under EU Settlement)

When you hold ILR, you should be mindful not to travel and stay outside the UK for too long a period. For ILR holders, too long periods are over 2 years.

Although you have the same rights as a British citizen, you cannot stay outside the UK for more than 2 years at a time like a British citizen can without consequences.

If you spend more than two years outside the UK, Ireland, or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), your ILR will be taken away. Those who received settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme lose their ILR if they stay outside for 5 years or more.

If you lose your ILR due to being outside the UK for more than 2 or 5 years, you can apply as a returning resident to get entry clearance.

The ILR is given to those who receive leave to remain indefinitely after a successful ILR application. This card can serve as proof of your UK permanent residence status. With it, you can rent a property, apply for jobs, and apply for citizenship (when you qualify).

In order to get an ILR card, you must meet all necessary requirements, including passing the English language test.