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Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Requirements

Find out more about indefinite leave to remain (ILR) requirements, including the eligibility criteria and application guidelines.

Get in touch with our team of lawyers by calling us on 020 4502 8582 or by contacting us online. We offer immediate advice and assistance and can help you find out if you meet ILR requirements.

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    Overview of Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements

    Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is a type of settled status granted to foreign nationals who have spent an eligible amount of time in the UK.

    Only certain valid UK visa categories can be used as routes to ILR, such as specific Family visas and points-based system visas. Usually, you need to live in the UK for five years to qualify for ILR, but in some cases this can be more or less.

    You must also fulfil a range of other requirements in order to be eligible for ILR. Some of these will be specific to your individual visa pathway, whereas others will apply to most applicants regardless of visa pathway.

    To find out more about the requirements for ILR, call our team of London lawyers on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online for more information about how to settle in the UK.

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    Which Visas Are Eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain?


    Not all UK visas or immigration routes will allow you to eventually apply for indefinite leave to remain. Most notably, temporary or short-term visas such as the Study visa, Visit visa or Temporary Worker visas generally do not allow visa holders to apply for ILR.

    However, many long-term visas will allow their holders to eventually apply for ILR. These include all of the following listed below.

    Work Visas

    Family Visas and Routes

    • Spouse visa / Civil Partnership visa / Unmarried Partner visa 
    • Parent visa
    • Child Dependent visa
    • Adult Dependent Relative visa
    • Private life route
    • If your partner has died
    • If your relationship has ended due to domestic violence

    Other Visas and Routes

    • If you’ve lived in the UK for over 10 years (long residence)
    • Ancestry visa
    • If you have refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave in the UK
    • If you formerly served in the British armed forces
    • If you’re returning to the UK and you previously held settled status


    General Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements

    There are some general eligibility criteria that all or most applicants must meet to apply for ILR.

    Firstly, you must first meet the continuous residency period requirement. This means that you have lived in the UK for a set number of years (this varies depending on which visa/immigration route you are using to qualify). Usually, this is five years, but not always.

    Generally speaking, during your time spent in the UK, you cannot have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days during any consecutive 12 month period.

    In addition to this, applicants may also have to:

    • Have no record of previous criminal offences or immigration law breaches
    • Pass the Life in the UK test
    • Meet the English language requirements
    • Meet the financial requirements or demonstrate that you can support yourself and your dependents financially
    • Continue to meet eligibility criteria for their chosen visa pathway, or intend to fulfil the conditions of your visa after applying for ILR in some instances

    ILR Time Requirements

    The amount of time a person can be lawfully resident in the UK before they are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain depends on the category they are applying from.

    The minimum time period is most commonly five years. This is the case for those living on Spouse visas, Unmarried Partner visas and Skilled Worker visas.

    For a list of the ILR time requirements applicable to the major visa routes, see below:

    Visa Type Minimum Time Requirement
    Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner 5 years
    EEA family permit 5 years
    Ancestry visa 5 years
    Tier 1 Investor visa 2-5 years
    Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa 3-5 years
    Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa 3 years
    Skilled Worker visa 5 years
    International Sportsperson visa 5 years
    Scale Up visa 5 years
    Innovator visa 3 years
    Global Talent visa 3-5 years
    Long residence 10 years
    Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa 5 years

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      Continuous Residency Requirements

      To calculate whether you have met the continuous residency requirement, which is needed to apply for ILR, you must first calculate your time spent in the UK. This can be quite complex, as how long you spent outside of the UK during your time must be taken into account.

      Any time that is spent lawfully living in the UK under a certified entrance route can be used to make up the qualifying time. Time spent in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands does not count towards the ILR continuous residency requirement.

      The qualifying period is calculated by counting backwards from one of the following:

      • The date your application for ILR was submitted
      • 28 days after your application is submitted
      • The date your ILR status is issued to you

      Calculating continuous residency is an essential requirement for indefinite leave to remain applicants to have to go through. If you need additional assistance in calculating your continuous residency or need help and support with any other ILR requirement, reach out to an immigration expert today on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online.

      Periods of Absence

      When calculating your time spent in the UK to find out whether you meet the continuous residency criteria, any periods of absence will be factored in.

      In this context, a ‘period of absence,’ is defined as time which is spent outside of the UK. This is calculated annually.

      As a general rule, to be eligible for ILR, your period of absence must not exceed 180 days in any consecutive 12 month period. If your days spent outside the UK in any 12 month period exceed the 180 day limit, your continuous residence will be broken. If this is the case, you need to wait another 12 months before applying again and have the residence period recalculated.

      There may be exceptions for certain periods of absence that may not affect the continuous residency requirement. For example, periods of absence relating to your employment or related economic activity may be allowed. This includes things such as business trips or short secondments.

      In addition, serious or compelling reasons for absences may be allowable without affecting the ILR requirements, such as if you or a relative suffer serious illness, international conflict, or natural disaster.

      In all of these cases, however, you must provide solid documentary evidence that supports the reasons for your absences and proves that you’re eligible for an exception.

      English Language Requirements


      Most candidates will need to show that they can speak and understand English to the required level to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain.

      This level is at least B1 in speaking and listening, according to the Common European Framework of Languages.

      The ILR English language test can be taken in several places in the UK and around the world. It must be taken with an approved provider, and at an approved centre. You will need to show that you have passed this test by including your certificate in your ILR application.

      Approved providers of English language tests include the following:

      • Trinity College London
      • Pearson
      • PSI Services (UK) Ltd
      • IELTS SELT Consortium
      • LanguageCert

      Nationality Exceptions

      You may not have to take an English language test in certain circumstances. For instance, if you are national of a country where English is the official majority language, you will only need to prove this to meet the English language requirement.

      If you’re a citizen of any of the following countries you are exempt from having to prove your English language skills:

      Antigua and Barbuda Dominica St Kitts and Nevis
      Australia Grenada St Lucia
      The Bahamas Guyana St Vincent and the Grenadines
      Barbados Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago
      Belize Ireland (for citizenship only) USA
      The British Overseas Territories Malta
      Canada New Zealand

      Academic Qualification Exceptions

      You may also be eligible for an exemption if you have taken an English-taught degree or higher qualification at a recognised institution. Your degree must be an academic rather than a vocational degree.

      If your degree was obtained at a UK-based university, you only need to show your degree certificate as proof.

      If your degree was obtained outside the UK, however, you will need both your degree certificate and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis to confirm that the degree is equivalent to a UK qualification.

      You may also need an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis to confirm that the degree was taught in English if it was obtained in a non English-majority speaking country.

      Other Exemptions

      You will also be exempt from the English language requirements in the following circumstances if you:

      • Are aged 65 or over
      • Are unable to fulfil the requirements because of a long-term health condition
      • Are an adult-dependent between the ages of 18 and 64 currently living with settled status in the UK
      • Are a victim of domestic violence whose spouse or partner is a British citizen or has settled status
      • Are a partner or spouse of a person who has died who was married to a British citizen or person with settled status
      • Are applying for settlement using certain work visas as due to already proving your English language skills in the past
      • Are someone in exceptional circumstances

      The Life in the UK Test

      The Life in the UK Test is an essential requirement for an ILR or citizenship application. You must submit proof that you have passed the test when you submit your application, which means you must take the test before you apply for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.

      The Life in the UK Test consists of 24 questions about British traditions and customs. The questions range from topics such as British history through to food and popular culture.

      To pass the test you need to answer at least 18 answers correctly, which is 75% or higher. You have 45 minutes to answer all 24 questions.

      You should book your test at least three days in advance of taking it. You can take the test at any of the 38 test centres in the UK, a full list of which can be found in the FAQ.

      The Life in the UK test fee is £50.

      You will not need to take the test if you:

      • Are under 18 or 65 or over
      • Have a long-term, debilitating physical or mental condition. You must provide either a form or letter from a doctor confirming this

      Note that if you pass the Life in the UK Test for your indefinite leave to remain application, you will not have to pass it again if and when you apply for British citizenship in the future.

      Visa-Specific Requirements

      In addition to the general requirements set out above, all ILR applicants will have to adhere to their own specific requirements depending on which visa route they’re applying from.

      These requirements will differ between visa routes. However, as an example, some visa-specific requirements are listed below. It’s important to remember that you must check what all of the necessary requirements are for your specific visa route before applying for ILR.

      • Spouse visa – you must have been living in the UK with your eligible spouse for the duration of your visa. You must also intend to continue your relationship after you apply for ILR and continue to have a combined income of at least £18,600 a year.
      • Parent visa – your child must either be settled in the UK or be applying for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as you. You also must not be eligible for a Partner visa.
      • Skilled Worker visa – you must meet, and continue to meet, the minimum salary requirements and continue to be needed for your current job.
      • Scale-up Worker visa – you must earn at least £33,000 when you apply and have been paid this for at least 2 of the 3 years before the date of application.

      What Documents Do I Need for ILR?

      The required documents for ILR are extensive, as you are required to prove your continuous residency in the UK, demonstrate you have a clean and legitimate immigration history, and that you meet the other eligibility criteria. The ILR documents also vary depending on which visa route you are applying from.

      The following is a non-exhaustive list of all the forms of documentation you may need to provide to prove that you meet the ILR requirements:

      • A valid passport (or another form of ID, such as a travel document, birth certificate or driver’s licence)
      • A birth certificate
      • Biometric residence permit (if issued)
      • Police registration certificate (if you’ve been asked to register with the police)
      • Evidence of cohabitation and/or genuine and subsisting relationship (if applying through the spouse/partner route)
      • Evidence of adequate accommodation
      • Bank statements, payslips, or job contract (to prove you meet the financial requirements)
      • Documents explaining any periods of absence (such as travel documents)
      • English language test pass certificate or degree certificate (unless exempt)
      • Life in the UK Test certificate
      • Evidence to show continuous residence, or evidence to support residence exemptions
      • Documents pertaining to any change in personal circumstances
      • Evidence that you meet the requirement for your specific visa route

      Who Is Exempt from Meeting the Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements?

      In some circumstances, you may be able to gain indefinite leave to remain in the UK without needing to meet some of the general requirements listed in the sections above.

      These may include (but not be limited to) the following:

      • If you are a refugee, have humanitarian protection or discretionary leave in the UK
      • If you formerly served in the British armed forces
      • If you’re returning to the UK and you previously held settled status

      In addition to this, if you were in the UK on a spouse or partner visa, you may be exempt from some requirements if either:

      • Your partner has died
      • Your relationship has ended due to domestic violence

      The various routes to indefinite leave to remain can be a tricky one to navigate without a legal professional. Maximise your chances of success in applying for ILR today and consult a professional legal adviser for help. Call us on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online today.

      What Are the ILR Fees?

      The application cost for indefinite leave to remain has increased annually over the last 10 years. As of March 2023, it currently sits at £2,404. Each dependent applying alongside you will have to pay the same cost.

      As well as this, there are other costs to consider when you are making an ILR application and considering if you’re able to meet all the requirements. For example, if you need to sit an English language test, this usually costs £150 and the Life in the UK test costs £50.

      Often, you may also have to meet certain financial or salary requirements when applying for ILR as well, such as if you’re applying from a work or investment-type visa route.

      How Can London Immigration Lawyers Help?

      Indefinite leave to remain is a crucial way for many foreign nationals to successfully obtain permanent residence in the UK.

      If you’re considering applying for ILR and need further assistance with the eligibility criteria and requirements needed in order to apply, or now to navigate other immigration restrictions London Immigration Lawyers can help.

      We are a team of expert, professional and knowledgeable immigration lawyers who are on hand to assist with your UK immigration queries.

      Whether you’re applying to be granted ILR for the first time or attempting to do so for a second time, it’s imperative that you submit an application that is going to be successfully accepted by the Home Office, or risk losing your application fee. Our lawyers can help guide you through every step of the application process and ensure that your details, documents and case is as compelling and persuasive as possible.

      For more information about the services we offer and what we could do for you, reach out to us today on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online today.

      We can help you get your indefinite leave to remain application first time. Contact Us

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  There are two different categories of ILR application forms. These are Form Set(O) and Form Set(M).

                  Form Set (M) needs to be completed by anyone who is applying for indefinite leave to remain as the dependent partner or child of a person who already has settled status in the UK.

                  For all other types of application, Form Set (O) should be completed.

                  You must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain status for at least one year before you are eligible to make an application for British citizenship.

                  There are certain circumstances in which you can have your ILR revoked. These include:

                  • If you leave the UK for a period of two years or more
                  • If you commit any crimes or offences which are deemed not conducive to the public good (in this circumstance you may be deported)

                  These vary depending on which route you are applying from. Those applying from the Tier 2 Worker route must show that they are earning at least £35,000 in most circumstances to be eligible, while those applying from the Spouse and Partner route must show that they and their partner have a combined income of at least £18,600.

                  You can only take a Life in the UK Test at one of the Home Office-approved test centres located around the UK.

                  Below is a list of the locations of these centres in the UK as of March 2023. Note that centres on this list may differ from the ones that are available to you at the time of booking.

                  Aberdeen Hounslow Nottingham
                  Belfast Ilford Oxford
                  Birmingham Ipswich Peterborough
                  Blackburn Leeds Plymouth
                  Brighton Leicester Portsmouth
                  Bristol Lewisham Preston
                  Cardiff Liverpool Reading
                  Coventry Luton Sheffield
                  Croydon Maidstone Stratford
                  Edinburgh Manchester Swansea
                  Exeter Milton Keynes Watford
                  Glasgow Newcastle Workington
                  Hammersmith Norwich