The benefits of having Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a type of immigration status that allows foreign nationals to become a permanent resident in the UK. Being granted ILR status is a key step for any overseas national who wishes to make the UK their permanent home. You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after having been resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man for 5 years on a relevant visa, or after living in the UK for 5 years as a refugee or person with humanitarian protection. After obtaining ILR you will no longer need to apply for any extensions and you will have the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely.
As well as allowing you to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration control, Indefinite Leave to Remain also comes with many other benefits, such as allowing you to access public funds and free healthcare, acting as a route to British citizenship and giving you the opportunity to bring family members to the UK.
What benefits can I claim with Indefinite Leave to Enter?
Foreign nationals who are in the UK on a temporary immigration status are usually subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy, meaning that they cannot claim benefits. However, once you have permanent settlement under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can claim public funds. If eligible, the public funds that you may be able to claim include:
- Universal Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
- Help with housing from the local authority
- Attendance allowance
- Carers allowance (previously invalid care allowance)
- Child benefit
- Council tax reduction
- Domestic rate relief (in Northern Ireland)
- Council tax benefit
- Disability living allowance
- Housing benefit
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Severe disablement allowance
- Social fund payments
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credit
- State pension credit
As well as accessing financial benefits, as an ILR holder, you will no longer be required to pay the immigration health surcharge to be able to access healthcare in the UK.
Bringing family members to the UK as an ILR holder
Once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, your family members will be able to apply for a visa to join you in the UK. The family members that can join you in the UK using one of the family visas include your partner, spouse, dependent children, and dependent relatives. However, if a relative does wish to join you in the UK then they will need to meet other requirements as well.
If you wish to bring a partner or spouse to the UK, then you both must be at least 18 years old and you must also either be in a civil partnership or marriage that is recognised in the UK, in a serious relationship in which you have lived together for at least two years, or be planning to get married within 6 months of your partner’s arrival in the UK. Your partner will also need to prove that they have an understanding of the English language and that they can support themselves financially whilst living in the UK.
If you want your child to join you in the UK they must be under 18 years old and mustn’t be living an independent life. You will also need to prove that they can be financially supported whilst here. Children over the age of 18 can be included on your ILR application as a dependent if they were previously granted entry to the UK and are not leading an independent life.
People who live outside the UK but require long-term care can apply to join a family member who holds Indefinite Leave to Remain using the Adult Dependent Visa. However, to be eligible to enter the UK using this visa, you must prove that the care that your relative requires is not available in their home country.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a route to British citizenship
There are several routes to British citizenship, but the most common path for foreign nationals is through the process of naturalisation. To naturalize as a British citizen, the UK’s immigration rules state that you must have been free from immigration control for at least 12 months (unless you are married to a British citizen). Being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain allows you to fulfil this requirement.
As well as having held Indefinite Leave to Remain for 12 months, there are other requirements that you must meet when applying for British citizenship after ILR, you must:
- Pass the Life in the UK test
- Demonstrate a knowledge of the English language
- Have lived in the UK for at least 5 years, with no longer than 450 days spent outside the UK
- Not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules
- Meet the Good Character requirement
It’s worth noting that you do not have to re-sit the Life in the UK test or an English language test, you can use the same certificates as you did when applying for ILR.
Unlike ILR holders, British citizens can leave the UK for as long as they like, hold a British passport and vote in UK elections.
Is there any benefit of applying for the EU Settlement Scheme if I have ILR?
EEA nationals who were living in the UK before the end of free movement can apply for either settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK. If you are an EEA national with ILR, you do not have to apply for the scheme to stay in the UK, your biometric residence permit will remain valid and show that you have a right to live in the UK. ILR and settled status are very similar, they both allow you to reside in the UK without being subject to a time limit. However, you can still apply for settled status as an EEA ILR holder if you want and there is a benefit to this.
If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain status, you can only leave the UK for up to two years. If you spend a continuous period of more than two years outside the UK, then you will lose your ILR status and will have to apply for a Returning Resident visa if you want to enter the UK again and regain your status. Those with settlement under the EU Settlement Scheme, however, can leave the UK for up to 5 years without losing their immigration status.
Can your lawyers help me to apply for ILR?
If you want to live in the UK permanently, our immigration lawyers are here to help. Our lawyers have helped thousands of clients with their Indefinite Leave to Remain applications. Applying for ILR can be a very complex process, the Home Office are strict when it comes to assessing applications and require you to submit a substantial portfolio of evidence to prove that you can meet the criteria. Seeking the assistance of a professional immigration lawyer will greatly increase your chance of a successful application.
Our lawyers offer a number of immigration services designed to guide you throughout the entire process. They can assess your eligibility for ILR, assist you with filling in the application, help you to gather all of the evidence that you will need and can even communicate with the Home Office on your behalf. If you’re unsure about whether you want to apply for ILR, our immigration lawyers also offer advice sessions where they can answer any questions that you may have and advise you about the best immigration options for you.