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Does Time Spent As A Student In The UK Count Towards ILR And British Citizenship?

The Student Visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa. Students are interested in obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), because it has no limitations for time spent in the UK and it can be used to get British Citizenship. Unfortunately, time spent in the UK on a Student Visa does not count towards ILR or British Citizenship applications.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a British citizen, obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or you have questions about making an application, contact one of our expert immigration advisers. Call us on 020 4502 8582, get in touch online, or come meet us at one of our 10 offices in the UK.

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    Can I Apply For Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR) If I Study In The UK For 5 Years On A Student Visa?

    No, a Student Visa is not available for settlement purposes. You must change to another visa category, such as a Graduate Visa or a Skilled Worker Visa. You cannot apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK with a Student Visa, even if you have spent 5 years in the UK.

    If your eligibility for the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) changes after the change in visa, you’ll have to stay in the UK for another time period of 5 consecutive years. You can also apply for the longer residence route if you live legally in the UK for 10 continuous years.

    How Can I Apply For Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR) Through The 10-Year Residence Route?

    To obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you must have permanent residence in the UK for 10 consecutive years and to maintain your visa during that period of time spent in the UK. The requirements can be challenging for people with longstanding visa status. This is a bit tricky because it depends on your visa type, and how long you had this visa for.

    For people on student visas, the safest option is to obtain either a Graduate or a Skilled Worker Visa – this way you can still study but also make an application for either Indefinite Leave to Remain, or British Citizenship, depending on which requirements you meet.

    How can I get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

    ILR is an immigration condition that lets you stay in Britain for an unlimited amount of time. If you get this status then you won’t need another visa. This permits you to exercise your residence and working rights as a British resident without restrictions. One important advantage of ILR is that you can apply for UK citizenship after 5 years.

    • If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the EU Settlement Scheme.
    • If you have a work visa – you have lived and worked in the UK for a qualifying period of at least 5 years (continuous residence requirement)
      • For tier 1 visa – 2 or 3 years
      • For Innovator or Global Talent visa – 3 years
    • If you have a partner, parent, child or other relative who has Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or is a British citizen
    • If you have been living in the UK for at least 10 years
    • If you’re a Commonwealth citizen

    The 180 Day Rule For Indefinite Leave To Remain

    One of the most important requirements for ILR is the “180 day rule”. It means you cannot spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period of the 5 years prior to your application. For example, if you apply for ILR and you have spent the last 5 years in the UK, but during the third year you were out of the country for more than 180 days in total (not necessarily continuously), then you cannot be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

    Leaving your residence to visit a place in England won’t affect your application. If you work in the United Kingdom, your absence should not exceed the annual leave permission. Absent periods have exceptions. Depending upon why you didn’t live in the UK, for example if you have ‘substantially significant’ reasons, this absence can be disregarded.

    Our expert immigration lawyers can assist with your ILR application. Contact us

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      How can I get British Citizenship with Indefinite Leave to Remain?

      If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for at least 12 months, you can apply for British Citizenship, with the following requirements:

      • You are aged over 18
      • You have proof of living in the UK for 5 years prior to your application
      • You took an accredited test to prove your knowledge of English language, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic (at least level B1 as set by the Common European framework)
      • You have passed the life in the UK test
      • You want to continue living in the UK in the future
      • You are of good character
      • You did not spend more time outside the UK than the following:
        • 450 days abroad during the 5 years before your application
        • 90 days abroad in the last 12 months
      Student amidst stack of books

      How much does Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) cost?

      The Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application fees are £2,404.

      How much does British Citizenship cost?

      The British Citizenship application costs are £1,330. The Life in the UK test costs £50.

      Student Visa - Changing Your Visa For ILR And British Citizenship

      Time spent in the United Kingdom with an international student visa is not considered for obtaining ILR status. This visa allows you to change to other visas. You can change student visas into Skilled Work or Graduate visas.

      Find out how we can assist with your ILR application. Contact us

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        How to change my Student Visa to Graduate Visa?

        If you are already a Student Visa holder, you may change it to Graduate Visa if you meet the following requirements:

        • You’re in the UK
        • You have completed a UK bachelor’s, postgraduate or other accredited degree or course
        • Your educational institution has confirmed to the Home Office that you have completed your degree or course

        The Graduate Visa gives you the right to stay in the UK:

        • For 3 years, if you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification
        • For 2 years, if you have any other qualification than the ones mentioned above

        The Graduate Visa cannot be extended. If you wish to stay longer in the UK, you might change this visa to a Skilled Worker Visa.

        How to change my Student Visa to Skilled Worker visa?

        If you want to change from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker visa, you just need to provide the following documents:

        • You have attested English language ability (tests such as IELTS or CAE)
        • Your job is eligible for this visa
        • You will work for a UK employer approved by the Home Office
        • You will earn at least minimum salary for your work, which is either:
          • £25,600 per year
          • £10.10 per hour
          • The ‘going rate’ that suits your job
        Students in library

        So Does Student Visa Count Towards ILR And Citizenship?

        No, you must change your Student Visa to another visa that can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British Citizenship, for example Graduate Visa or Skilled Worker Visa. Time spent in the UK on a student visa does not count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain. If you want to become a UK citizen, then you must get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) first.

        Also, having a biometric residence permit (BRP) is not mandatory for ILR. The procedures, criteria and fees for visa switch, Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship are described above. If you want to find out about more types of visas feel free to visit other posts on our page.

        Call us for further assistance with your Skilled Worker Visa application. Contact us

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          How Can London Immigration Lawyers Help?

          International students in the UK who are planning to live, work and study here long-term have to deal with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or British Citizenship application process, which can often be very confusing, stressful and time consuming.

          Whether you have a question about the application process, fees or documents, or whether you need immediate assistance, London Immigration Lawyers can offer you professional advice to help you succeed with your application.

          Call 020 4502 8582 to speak with a member of our team and learn more about how our lawyers can assist you.

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