Indefinite Leave to Remain
Individuals who have been in the UK for a number of years may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if they want to permanently settle in the UK. Workers who are in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa or those who have obtained an Innovator visa, Investor visa or Sole Representative visa may qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) allows applicants to live and work in the UK without any restrictions and later naturalise as British Citizens. ILR is sometimes commonly referred to as Permanent Residence, however this is not correct. Permanent Residence was the settlement of EEA nationals and their family in the UK under the European Union free movement of people. ILR is acquired by non-EEA nationals and EU nationals who are not eligible for settlement under the EU settlement scheme.
What can a successful applicant do?
Successful ILR applicants have the permission to live and work in the UK with no time limit. In addition to being able to work in the UK without restrictions, ILR holders are entitled to receive state benefits they qualify for. However, ILR holders are not British Citizens and therefore are not eligible to vote in General Elections unless they qualify by virtue of their nationality. While ILR holders are able to leave and return to the UK without restrictions, they may lose their ILR status if they remain outside of the UK for two years.
What are the requirements to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Applicants can qualify for ILR under several visa categories and the requirements shall depend on the applicant’s current visa category and status in the UK. It is important to note that not all visas provide a route to ILR. Visas that do not provide a route ILR include the Start-up visa, Tier 4 (Student) visa and a Tier 5 (Temporary) visa.
The time an applicant is required to have been in the UK prior to submitting their application will also depend on the applicant’s circumstances. Applicants who are in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, Sole Representative visa or Innovator visa may apply when they have five years of continuous lawful residence in the UK where those in the UK on an Investor visa will require continuous residence of two to five years depending on the amount they have invested into the UK.
To be eligible for ILR, the following criteria must be met:
- Have passed the Life in the UK Test about the history, culture and customs of the UK
- Have not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in any 12 months during the qualifying years
- Have not breached any immigration rules while residing in the UK and do not have a criminal record
- Have passed the English Language requirement. If the applicant is not from a majority speaking English country, unless they can provide evidence that they have been taught an academic qualification of degree or higher in English they will need to pass an English test.
- Have sufficient funds to accommodate and support themselves, and any dependants
- Visas such as Spouse, Family and Long Residence may also provide a route to ILR.
What evidence will be required to support an Indefinite Leave to Remain application?
In addition to meeting the requirements, applicants may be required to submit the following documents:
- Their current passport and any previous passports that where valid during their residence in the UK
- Travel documentation for any time spent outside of the UK during their residence
- Evidence of the funds available to the applicant, for example bank statements and wage slips
- A certificate to confirm they have passed the Life in the UK test (if not exempt)
- The birth or adoption certificated of any dependants they are applying on behalf of (if applicable)
- A certificate to confirm they have achieved an English language proficiency level of BR (if not exempt)
- A police registration certificate (if not exempt)
Can family members apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
A main applicant’s partner and children under the age of 18 (their dependants) can apply on the same form as the main applicant if they are eligible.
A partner is eligible if:
- They have permission to be in the UK as the applicants partner
- They have been living with the applicant for at least 5 years
- The relationship is genuine
- There is intention to continue living together
- The main applicant has enough income to support them
- They are not using public funds
A child is eligible if they:
- Were previously given permission to stay in the UK as the main applicant’s child
- Are not married or in a civil partnership
- Will live with the main applicant and be supported without using public funds
- Can provide two pieces of evidence as to their registered address if they are 16 years or older
In most circumstances, both the child’s parents must be settled, or applying to settle, in the UK legally for a child to be allowed to settle.
A main applicant’s partner and child over the age of 18 will need to pass the Life in the UK Test and prove they have English Language skills.
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain
Individuals who would like to apply for ILR should do so prior to the expiry of their current permission to stay in the UK. It is an offence for to ‘overstay’ and knowingly remain in the UK beyond the time permitted in their visa. To do so could result in removal from the UK, refusal of further leave and criminal prosecution. If an applicant’s leave expires while their application for ILR is being considered by the Home Office, the applicant will have leave to remain in the UK until their application has been decided.
If the application is being made from within the UK, the applicant may be required to attend a UKVAC centre for a leave to remain interview. The purpose of the interview is for the Home Office to request further information, verify facts of documentation and check that all the visa requirements have been met.
Applications for ILR, in most cases, can be submitted online and the Home Office aim to make a decision within 6 months although this is not guaranteed.
The current Home Office application fee is £2,389 per applicant. Applicants who want to receive a faster decision can pay an additional £500 to get a decision within 5 working days or £800 to get a decision within 2 working days.
Do you require advice?
When submitting an application for ILR, reference should be given to the Home Office guidance relevant to the current leave to remain in the UK (visa) the applicant holds and the Immigration Rule which are subject to constant change. Contact our business immigration lawyers for advice here.