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ILR Set M vs Set O - what is the difference?

The main difference between the two ILR forms – Set M and Set O – is that the first is for anyone applying as a spouse, civil partner, same sex or unmarried partner of someone who is already living and settled in the UK.

Our lawyers can guide you through the Indefinite Leave to Remain application process, for more information about our services get in touch with our team today on 020 4502 8582.

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    Which form to use when applying for indefinite leave to remain?

    Applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK can be a challenging and often confusing process. It is important to make sure you complete the correct form when making an application to become a British citizen.

    Seek legal advice to complete ILR forms

    Both the ILR Set M and Set O forms are long and can be complicated with a need for lots of different documents. Any errors in your application can cause issues such as a delayed or refused application so it is recommended that applicants ensure they seek advice from immigration experts before beginning the application process.

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    Completing the ILR Set M form

    The full title of the form is an Application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK as the partner of a person present and settled in the UK and a Biometric Immigration Document.

    Guidance from the Home Office explains the following people are allowed to apply for British citizenship by completing the Set M form:

    • Partners of a UK settled person under the 2-year route. To be eligible, they must have been granted limited leave for 27 or 24 months. You can apply for indefinite leave when you have completed more than two years with such leave in the UK.
    • Partners of a UK settled person under the 5-year route. You must have been granted 30 months of limited leave, of which 60 should have already been completed.
    • Partners who currently lives with a British settled person and plan to get married or register a civil partnership
    • Parents of a child present and settled in the UK (under the 5-year route)

    It is important to note that same-sex partners and civil partners are included in the legal definition of partner.

    Timescales for completing Set M forms

    ILR applications made using Set M forms are time-sensitive and they must be submitted before current leave to remain the UK expires. However, they must not be completed more than 28 days before a current visa expires.

    What documents are needed to apply for ILR Set M

    A clear reason must be given when someone wishes to apply for indefinite leave to remain and there are a number of supporting documents and additional information that must be used to support the application for UK citizenship.

    The documents requested by the Home Office include the following:

    • Personal details about the applicant and other family members must be included on the application form.
    • Proof of knowledge of life in the UK including proof of passing the Life in the UK test. It is also required to have an appropriate English language test qualification – although this does not apply to anyone aged below 18 or over 64.
    • A Biometric Residence Permit – failure to provide this means an automatic refusal of ILR in the UK.
    • Financial information such as bank statements, utility bills, payslips, savings and other evidence of a sufficient income.
    • Information of any criminal convictions or civil proceedings must be declared on the form and further information provided so the Home Office can make an accurate assessment.
    • Any photographs required must met UKVI guidelines and have the full name of the applicant on the back.
    • The UK partner of the applicant must provide a consent form and evidence of a valid passport as well as proof of their residency status in the UK and immigration history at the time of application.

    Completing the Set M remain application form correctly

    Completing Set M application forms can be a complicated and lengthy process as well as costly. Any mistakes could result in ILR application being refused so it is advisable that applicants seek guidance on how to complete the form correctly and ensure all the necessary documents are included.

    Processing times for the Set M form

    It can take between 12 weeks and six months for a Set M form to be processed by the Home Office. Applicants are generally allowed to remain and work under their existing UK visa while the application is being decided.

    ILR Set O form

    The indefinite leave to remain Set O application form is officially entitled the Application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK in one of the categories listed in this form and a biometric immigration document and is available online via the UKVI site. It is over 70 pages long and consists of 13 different sections, so it is worth taking time to find guidance before starting the application process.

    Those looking to obtain settled status in the UK under the following categories should complete the Set O form rather than the Set M form if they wish to apply for indefinite leave.

    • Tier 1 Visa holders
      • Entrepreneurs and ‘accelerated’ entrepreneurs
      • Investors and ‘accelerated’ investors
      • Exceptional talent
    • Skilled worker/highly skilled migrant visa holders
    • PBS Dependants
    • UK Ancestry Visa holders
    • Overseas business representatives
    • Retired persons who are lawfully in the UK and are financially independent
    • Bereaved partner of a British citizen or permanent resident
    • Long Residence (10-years or more time spent) route applicants

    The above list is not exhaustive and there are a number of other immigration status which are covered by the Set O form including a work permit holder, businessperson, self-employed lawyer or writer, composer or artist.

    Timescale for applying for ILR via Set O

    Like the Set M form, the Set O form is also time sensitive and must not be submitted more than 28 days before the applicant’s current immigration status runs out otherwise it will not be seen as a valid application.

    What documents are needed to complete the Set O form?

    One of the most important parts of completing the indefinite leave to remain application form is ensuring the right documents are included to move towards British citizenship as it can be much harder to complete that other application forms.

    • The first section asks for personal information including passport details, as well as provide evidence about dependents so birth certificates and marriage certificates also need to be included to meet UK requirements.
    • It is also important to ensure that applicants clearly explain what their current immigration status is and what category they are applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
    • Evidence of sufficient English language skills and proof of passing the Life in the UK test must be included with the form. However, Tier 1 or highly skill migrants may be exempt from this condition. Also, anyone with a degree taught in English or a national of a majority English speaking country may not have to submit a language test certification.
    • A large part of the form is dedicated to details about personal finances and the correct Set O form supporting documents that need to be provided. This can be in the form of bank statements, payslips, HMRC tax letters, as well as evidence of savings and other forms of income sources.
    • Immigration history also forms part of Set O form and applicants must be able to justify if they have recently spent time outside of the UK and provide details to support their case.
    • The Set O form also requires applicants to declare any prior or pending criminal convictions as well as civil judgements. It is a criminal offence to omit such information and could result in an automatic refusal for British citizenship.
    • If you are applying for your dependents, they will also be required to prove their “good character”.
    • Finally, photographs of the applicant and any dependents must be included with the Set O form.

    How long to process Set O form?

    It can take up to six months for the form to reviewed and approved. There is a premium processing fee of £500 that can be paid in addition to the standard ILR application fee to reduce overall processing times.

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

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      SET(M) Cover letter

      As well as the documents listed above it is also recommended that ILR applicants include a cover letter alongside their application.

      You cover letter should include personal details about both you and your UK partner and it should also provide details about how you meet each of the requirements, including:

      • How you meet the relationship requirement, including details about your relationship with your UK partner
      • How you meet the financial requirements
      • How you meet the accommodation requirement
      • How you meet the English language requirement

      In your supporting letter you should also state the reasons why you wish to remain in the UK.

      How long does it take for the SET(M) form to be processed?

      The processing time for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications varies but generally you can expect it to take between 3 to 6 months.

      If you don’t submit the correct documents then this could result in your application being delayed.

      If you need a quicker decision on your application then there is a priority service available in which your application will be processed within 10 working days, as well as super priority service that will see you receive a decision the next working day. These services come at an additional fee.

      You are permitted to stay in the UK whilst your Indefinite Leave to Remain application is being processed.

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      How can London Immigration Lawyers help?

      The ILR applications are very complex, this is why it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of an immigration professional when it comes to completing your application.

      Our lawyers can assess whether you are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain and can fill in the application form on your behalf. As well as this we will go through the document checklist with you and ensure that you have all of the necessary supporting documents for your application.

      Our immigration experts are trained in all areas of UK immigration law and have helped thousands of clients with their ILR applications, they will ensure that your application has the best chance of success.

      For more information about how we can assist you get in touch with our team today on 020 4502 8582.

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