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Difference between 5- and 10-year routes

Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settled status in the UK and can be applied for after a foreign national has spent a number of years in the country – this time usually differs between 5 and 10 years depending on eligibility requirements.

For assistance with your ILR application get in touch with our immigration lawyers today on 020 4502 8582, we are here to help. We can speak to you in whatever way best suits you: in person, at our offices, over the phone or online. 


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    What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of immigration status in the UK which can be applied for after you have spent a certain period of time in the country. It is seen as the first step towards becoming a British citizen and making the UK your permanent residence.

    Under UK immigration rules, there are two different qualifying routes – known as the 5-year and 10-year. Which one you qualify for depends on you meeting the eligibility criteria and which visa category you have come to the UK under.

    British passport

    What is the 5-year route to ILR status?

    The five-year route is suitable for a whole range of reasons and you may wish to seek comprehensive advice dedicated immigration lawyer before applying for settled status to ensure you do qualify for ILR at the current time.

    This shorter route to ILR is the most popular and those that meet all the suitability requirements may include the following:

    • Came to the UK as a fiancé or proposed civil partner before entering a marriage or civil partnership with that same partner, and have continued to live with that partner in the UK
    • Entered the UK after being granted a Spouse Visa
    • Anyone who is currently in the UK under a different immigration visa/category which is valid for over six months, and they have since married/entered into a civil partnership with their partner or have been living with their partner continuously for at least two years either in the UK or overseas
    • Working in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa
    • As a child, partner or dependent of a British citizen or settled person
    • On a UK Ancestry visa
    • As a Representative of an Overseas Business

    When calculating your qualifying period for settled status it is vital to ensure that only time spent lawfully in the UK counts towards the five years. This can be counted backwards either from the date of your indefinite leave to remain status, the date of your application or up to 28 days afterwards.

    Qualifying for the 5-year ILR route

    A key part of applying for ILR status is being able to prove your continuous residency period in the UK. This means you must have lived in the country without any absences longer than 180 days within any 12 month period – i.e. been in lawful residence for a total of 450 days across the five year period.

    You must be able to show your main place of residence is the UK and you do not spend long periods of time overseas.

    The Home Office wants to ensure that the UK is your main place of residence, rather than splitting your time between here and another country.

    In addition to apply for indefinite leave status you will need to also:

    • Be over 18 years old
    • Have passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at B1 level or above – or qualify for an exemption
    • Have passed the Life in the UK test on British customs and culture
    • Have no severe or recent criminal convictions and have not broken any immigration rules

    The 10 year route to ILR status

    The 10 year route to being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain status depends upon proving continuous lawful residence in the UK for ten years. The applicant must have strong reasons as to why the they cannot return to their country of origin/residence and submit an application.

    Examples of people who qualify under the 10 year route include those who:

    • Have resided continuously in the UK for 20 years; or
    • Are under 18 but have lived in the UK for at least 7 years; or
    • Are 18-25 and have spent at least half their life in the UK; or
    • Are at least 18 and have lived in the UK for less than 20 years but have no ties to their country of birth
    • No valid immigration status, and are therefore an illegal immigrant/over-stayer with an expired visa

    To apply for settled status you must be able to prove 10 years of continuous residence in the UK and you will not be eligible for refugee status if:

    • You have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months at a time
    • You have spent more than 18 months total outside of the UK within the 10 year period
    • You left the UK before November 2016 without valid leave to remain on departure and failed to apply for leave to enter within 28 days of your leave’s expiry

    How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status

    You can apply for online for ILR via the website and a crucial part of the application process is ensuring you provide the required supporting documents. All evidence provided must be original and must be in English or Welsh – if not, then you must provide certified translated copies.

    Some of the information which you may need to provide includes:

    • Your passport/other valid travel document, including any passports which have expired since you have been in the UK
    • Documents demonstrating your level of English such as a pass certificate
    • Your pass in the Life in the UK test certificate
    • Documents and information which detail any time you have spent outside of the UK during your UK residency
    • An immigration history
    • A police registration certificate if you were required to register with police when you arrived in the UK

    In addition, you will need to pay the application processing fee for Indefinite Leave to Remain – this is currently £2,389.

    You can expect to receive a decision about being granted ILR within six months of submitting your application.

    Do you need help applying for British citizenship? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      How can London Immigration Lawyers help?

      Gaining Settled Status is a life-changing event that comes with many benefits, however, the visa application and process isn’t easy and it can be incredibly difficult to navigate it alone.

      Our immigration lawyers are experienced when it comes to assisting with British citizenship applications, they know exactly what it takes for an application to be successful and can give you advice package give you the best chance of success.

      One of the most difficult aspects of the application process is meeting the strict requirements. Our lawyers will help you to do this. We can advise you about whether you need to take an English language test, which test to take and how to book it. We can have professional immigration lawyers also help you to meet the other requirements, this includes helping you to prepare for the Life in the UK Test and assisting you with gathering a substantial portfolio of documents to support your application.

      To find out more about how our lawyers can assist you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today by calling 020 4502 8582.

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