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Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

For those looking to become settled in the UK, our team of London immigration lawyers can guide you through every step of the Indefinite Leave to Remain process.

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What does Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) mean?

ILR is the means by which non-EEA citizens become settled in the UK. In most circumstances, an individual is able to apply after five years of continuous residence.

A number of different visa types lead to this status. Holders are able to live in the UK free from immigration control. It is a pivotal step in the journey towards full citizenship.

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What supporting documentation will I require for my Indefinite Leave to Remain application?

There a number of different documents you will need to organise and submit alongside your application for ILR in order for it to be successful. The documents will relate to yourself and any dependants that you intend to bring with you.

It is hugely important that all of the documentation you provide is an original copy. If you are not able to do this, you will need to explain why. The Home Office will be flexible if there are genuine reasons behind your inability to provide an original copy. It is possible to upload your documents electronically.

In most circumstances, you will be required to provide the following documents:

  • In circumstances where you are applying on behalf of dependants, any birth or adoption certificates must be provided
  • Your current passport plus any previous passports that were valid during the time you have spent in the UK
  • Travel documentation relating to time spent outside of the UK during your period of residency
  • Financial documentation to provide evidence of the funds available to you. This can take the form of bank statements and wage slips
  • The pass certificate you obtained from your Life in the UK Test (if not exempt)
  • The pass certificate that states you have achieved an English language proficiency level of B1 (if not exempt)
  • A police registration certificate. This is only relevant to those who were required to register with the police upon arrival in the UK
  • Your immigration history
  • Any other relevant documentation that pertains to your specific visa category
  • Two identical passport-sized photographs. They must be in colour and must have the applicant’s name clearly written on the back.

How much time must I have spent in the UK before applying for ILR?

Your ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain depends on your circumstances. Those from outside of the EEA can usually apply after five years of lawful residence in the UK.

Five years of continuous lawful residence applies to the following visa types:

There are situations in which it is possible to successfully apply for ILR despite not having been resident in the UK for five years.

Under the terms of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, it is possible to apply for ILR after only three years of continuous residence in the UK.

For citizens of the Commonwealth who have served for the British Armed Forces, it is possible to apply for ILR after only four years of continuous residence in the UK.

A dependant of a British citizen or an individual with settled status will usually not need to satisfy any time requirements in order to become settled in the UK.

There are also circumstances in which the time period needed to qualify for ILR will be even longer than five years. Any example of this is the ILR requirements for Long Residence. For those over the age of 18 on a Long Residence Visa, you will need to have been resident in the UK for 10 years before applying for ILR. For those under the age of 18, you will need to have been resident in the UK for seven years.

What do I need to know about the Life in the UK Test?

Passing the Life in the UK Test is a key part of a successful Indefinite Leave to Remain application. The test comprises of 24 questions pertaining to the history, culture and customs of the United Kingdom. It is sometimes referred to as the British Citizenship test.

The test itself is 45 minutes long. The 24 questions are randomly generated on the day, so it is vitally important to be fully prepared. In order to pass the test, you must score a minimum of 75%.

The test must be booked three days in advance of it being sat. It costs £50 to book. There are over 50 test centres in the UK- you are able to choose one of the five closest to where you are located. If you book a test that is not close to where you are located, you will not be permitted to sit the test nor will you receive a refund.

In the event of failure, you are able to re-sit the test. This can be done as soon as seven days after the date of your test. There is no limit on how many times you are able to re-sit the test. Only those between the ages of 18 and 65 will need to sit the test.

If an individual has a long-term mental or physical ailment and has written proof from a medical professional, they will usually be exempt from the test.

When booking the test, you will need an email address, a credit or debit card and an accepted form of identification. When you go and sit your test, you must bring some identification (such as a driving licence or passport). You should also bring some form of correspondence sent to your UK address and addressed to you. It must be dated within three months of the date of your test.

What are the English language requirements for ILR?

It is necessary for you to demonstrate proficiency in the English language in order to gain UK permanent residence. You must possess level B1 as certified by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Applicants will require a certificate from their test provider. This must be submitted alongside all other supporting documentation.

There are some applicants who will not need to satisfy this criterion. Those from Commonwealth/English-speaking countries tend to be exempt. Such countries include:

  • USA
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Canada
  • Grenada
  • Barbados
  • Jamaica
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • St Lucia
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • The Bahamas

The English language criteria also does not apply to those who hold a degree or higher-level qualification in English. Additionally, those over the age of 65 and those under humanitarian protection are exempt.

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What are the requirements for ILR?

The requirements for ILR are dependent on an individual’s unique circumstances, notably the type of visa they hold.

Being eligible for ILR revolves around having been continuously resident in the UK for a certain amount of time.

However, there are a number of other requirements that must also be satisfied.

To be deemed eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain, the following criteria must be met:

  • You must have been lawfully and continuously resident in the UK for the relevant period of time.
  • You must have sat and passed the Life in the UK Test. This is a set of questions pertaining to the history, culture and customs of the UK.
  • The time you spend outside of the UK must not exceed 90 days in any 12 months during the qualifying period.
  • You must not have been in breach of any immigration rules during your time in the UK. It is also crucial that you do not have a criminal record.
  • You must have obtained an English language qualification of B1 level. This must be in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Which visa types can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Being eligible for ILR is dependent on having lived in the UK on a visa that can lead to settlement. For those on a settlement visa, it will possible to apply for ILR once the minimum time limit for that specific visa time has been met.

The visa types that can lead to becoming settled in the UK are as follows:

It is important to note that there are other ways to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain outside of these visa routes.

What am I entitled to do if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you are successfully granted ILR, there are no restrictions on your ability to work and/or study in the UK. The rules pertaining to your ability to work are the same as those that pertain to British citizens. The same applies to your ability to study.

You will be able to work in any role/industry. You can also take up self-employed work and work in the voluntary sector.

There are usually no healthcare restrictions on those that hold ILR. You will be to access NHS healthcare.

Possessing Indefinite Leave to Remain affords you the ability to access benefits if you need to.

What are the rules regarding travel outside of the UK for those with ILR?

For those with ILR, it is important to be aware of the restrictions imposed on time spent outside of the UK. This is an area where your rights are different to those with British citizenship, for whom there are no time restrictions.

If you hold ILR, you cannot spend a period of time that exceeds two years outside of the UK. If you do, your ILR status will be terminated.

What options do I have I my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is unsuccessful?

Our London immigration lawyers will guide you through the ILR application in order to maximise your chances of success. Rejections can be very distressing and can constitute a major setback in your journey towards full citizenship. However, in circumstances where an application is rejected, there are a number of options available to you.

  • Appeal the decision
  • Pursue a Judicial Review
  • Pursue an Administrative Review
  • Start the application process again, ensuring that all mistakes made in the previous attempt are rectified

Your rejection will contain information pertaining to whether or not you have the right to appeal the decision or pursue an administrative review.

The process involved in a Judicial Review is somewhat different. It usually constitutes the final attempt at reversing the Home Office’s decision. The process is often complex, as it concerns whether or not the Home Office’s decision to reject your application was just and lawful.

If I possess ILR, will I automatically receive British citizenship after the qualifying period?

Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain is essentially the penultimate step in an individual’s journey towards British citizenship.

However, whilst an individual must hold ILR for 12 months before being able to obtain British citizenship, it is not automatically granted once this period of time comes to an end.

You need to actively apply for British citizenship once you have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for 12 months. You must obtain and organise all necessary documentation and submit it alongside your application form to the Home Office in order to gain permanent residence in the UK.

What do I need to know about the Indefinite Leave to Remain application form?

There are two main forms used in ILR applications- Form Set (O) and Form Set (M). The one you need to fill in depends on your specific circumstances.

For those who are applying for ILR as someone’s partner, or as the parent of a child that already holds settled status in the UK, Form Set (M) needs to be filled in.

In all other circumstances, Form Set (O) is that which needs to be completed. This includes ILR applicants on Tier 1, Tier 2, UK Ancestry and PBS Dependant Visas.

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

There are certain circumstances in which an individual can be classed as ‘settled’ in the UK without having to apply for ILR.

Children of those with British citizenship or settled status may be permitted to remain in the UK indefinitely. Further to this, refugees who have found sanctuary in the UK via the Gateway Protection Program may be granted clearance to remain in the UK indefinitely.

Do I need a Biometric Residence Permit to apply for ILR?

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a form of biometric identification. It contains your name, date of birth, fingerprints and a digital photograph of your face. It contains information pertaining to your immigration status, any conditions on your leave to remain and information concerning your ability to claim benefits and access services.

You do not need to obtain a Biometric Residence Permit in order to apply for ILR. If you submit an ILR application and it is granted, you will automatically receive a BRP.

How much does an ILR application cost?

As it stands, it costs £2,389 to make an Indefinite Leave to Remain application.

An additional £50 will be charged for every extra person you apply on behalf of.

There is a fast-track service available to those who need their application to be processed quickly. If you opt for this premium service, you ought to have your application processed within five working days.

It costs an extra £500 on top of the standard application fee. There is also a super-priority service. This will process your application within one working day and costs an extra £800.

How long will a standard ILR application take to process?

For those who opt for the standard service, you should expect to receive a decision on your application within six months of its submission to the Home Office.

What are the rules regarding periods of absence?

If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12-month period in order to be eligible.

It is important to note that your reasons for absence are relevant here. If you leave the UK for business reasons, this time will not be factored into your overall period of absence.  Similarly, if you have to leave the UK due to exceptional circumstances,

It is advised that you keep a record of the amount of time you spend outside of the UK. This will enable you to ensure that you are eligible for ILR.

Spouse Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain

In most cases, holders of a Spouse Visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of continuous lawful residence in the UK.

Spouse Visas last for 30 months. When they expire, they can be extended for an additional 30 months. Once the extension comes to an end, the Spouse Visa holder will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, providing the requirements are met.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Once you have become settled in the UK, your status may be lost if you spend more than two years outside the country.

For those with ILR who do spend more than two years outside of the country, you may be able to re-enter the UK on a Returning Resident Visa. When determining your eligibility for this, there are a few factors that an immigration official will look at.

  • You must have had Indefinite Leave to Remain when left
  • You must not have relied on public funds in order to finance your travel outside of the country
  • You must intend to re-enter for the purpose of settlement
  • There must be good reasons for you to be classed as a returning resident

Before commencing your application, you need to establish whether to submit Form Set (M) or Form Set (O). The former is for those applying with dependants, and the latter is for all other applications.

You must be based in the UK when you submit your form. It is also vitally important that you demonstrate your knowledge of British culture, history and customs through passing the Life in the UK Test. You must also meet the English requirements. There are circumstances in which an individual will be exempt from these, however if they apply to you, you submit your certificates alongside your form.

Unspent criminal convictions have a major bearing on an individual’s ability to obtain ILR. However, it does depend somewhat on the nature of the conviction and the circumstances surrounding it.

In situations where the conviction is spent, there is a still a considerable chance that it will affect your application. This will also depend on the nature of the conviction. It is advised that you contact an immigration lawyer/expert prior to commencing your application in order to determine your chances of success.

Further Leave to Remain refers to when an individual extends their existing visa on a temporary basis prior to obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain. For those in the UK on a Visitor Visa, you are not able to extend your stay in the UK beyond the allocated six-month timeframe. However, there are circumstances in which you can switch to a different visa type.

For those who wish to become a permanent resident of the UK, you must submit your application to the Home Office. This costs £2,389 per person. There is an additional £50 for each dependant you include on your application.

To obtain a Biometric Residence Permit, there is a cost of £19.20.

Our team of talented London immigration lawyers understand the immense importance of securing Indefinite Leave to Remain. It is a pivotal step in the journey towards British citizenship, and we are here to guide you through every step of the process.

We have a great history of securing ILR approvals. Here are some of the services we provide:

  • A Letter of Representation that outlines the strengths of your case to the Home Office, drawing attention to relevant immigration laws
  • A thorough document check that ensures that all necessary material is in place to support your application
  • The completion of your application form to the highest possible standard
  • Frequent contact with you throughout the process- over the phone, in person, or via Skype
  • Determining your eligibility for ILR
  • Maintaining a dialogue with the Home Office throughout the process
  • The submission of your application to the Home Office
  • Assisting you with your Life in the UK Test preparation
  • Assisting you with your English language test preparation

If you want to ensure your application is successful first time, contact our London immigration lawyers today on 020 4502 8582. We offer Advice, Application and Appeal Packages- tailored for you.

Holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain are classed as being settled in the UK in the same way as those with EEA Permanent Residence and EU Settled Status are. However, they are not classed as British citizens. Citizenship will enable you to become a British passport holder and possess the full set of associated rights.

In most cases, ILR can be applied for after five years of lawful residence in the UK. There are certain circumstances under which this timeframe will be different, such as those applying to ILR on the Long Residence route. For individuals in this situation, there will be a 10 year wait before permanent residence can be obtained.