Thousands of foreigners come to the UK every year to build a career, develop their business or simply enjoy safety and comfort in a modern democratic country. Those who come to Great Britain on a work, business or family reunion visa normally apply for an indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or settlement, after five years of living in the country and successful integration in the British society.
Regardless of the visa category, ILR application in the UK is a complicated process that requires compliance with numerous conditions and requirements. That is why it is vital to pay utmost attention to every step of this process, plan and control each stage in order to avoid a refusal from immigration authorities that can put an end to your many years in the UK.
Immigration advisors of Imperial & Legal have extensive experience in supporting people who relocate to Great Britain and plan to obtain an ILR and citizenship. Our specialists have excellent expertise in similar immigration situations, so we have prepared important guidelines to help you understand peculiarities of the process of ILR application.
In the UK, there is an indefinite leave to remain and an indefinite leave to enter (ILE), and if you have either of them and you have established a home in the UK, you are considered to be settled here.
An indefinite leave to remain means that its holder is no longer subject to immigration control in Great Britain, there are no requirements to comply with in terms of living, working, etc. ILR holders enjoy more or less the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens.
The right of a foreign national to an indefinite leave to remain in the UK depends on their immigration category and the grounds they file their ILR application on. For instance, you have the right to apply for an ILR if you have lived in the country for ten years.
Work, business and family reunion visa holders must live in the UK for at least five years and comply with all immigration requirements in order to apply for an ILR here. In some cases, certain immigration categories can apply for a UK indefinite leave to remain after 2-3 years of living in the country.
To sum it up, the following immigration categories can apply for ILR in Great Britain:
Period of Residence
Most long-term visas except for Global Talent
Global Talent visa
Depends on how successful the business is
Subject to the business meeting two out of seven requirements
Sole Representative Visa
Investments over £10,000,000
Investments over £5,000,000
Investments over £2,000,000
Family visas (for spouses and civil partners of British citizens)
If your British spouse dies, you can immediately apply for an ILR
Living in the country on legal grounds
There are other categories of applicants who have the right to obtain ILR, such as refugees or foreign citizens who have served in the British army. However, we have not included them in our review as these cases are rather rare.
You can get ILR status in the following cases:
ILR application is filed online. Make sure you fill in an application which is required for your immigration category. All in all, there are four forms with the following codes:
Make sure that all the information in your application is correct and relevant for your case. You need to prepare a set of supporting documents; if some of them are in the foreign language, you will need certified translations into English. You will also need to pay a government application fee.
A standard set includes the following documents:
The standard fee is £2,389, excluding £19.20 biometrics fee.
It may take up to six months to get a decision on your case, but as a rule, it is done faster, within six to twelve weeks. In most cases, you can pay additional £500 to have your application considered within five days. Some categories of applicants may use the priority option and have their application considered within 24 hours for additional £800; however, this the number of applicants may be limited.
Note that neither standard nor biometrics fee will be refunded if UK authorities refuse your ILR application in the UK.
Most frequent reasons for refusal are listed below:
Your chances to get ILR and avoid mistakes that may lead to refusal of your application will be higher if you contact experienced immigration advisors in Imperial & Legal. They will make sure that your application form is filled in correctly and all the necessary documents have been provided. Besides, they will analyse all your trips outside the UK and come up with a plan of getting an indefinite leave to remain in Great Britain. Our specialists will also support you in your preparation for an English exam and a Life in the UK test.
Most UK residents already know what a residence card is as they collected it upon arrival to the country on their current visa. However, you will need to have your biometric information taken again for a small fee. Finally, when your application is approved, you will get an ILR BRP card.
This BRP card is valid for ten years subject to renewal. Due to some changes in encryption technologies, BRP cards of some residents will be reissued after 31st December 2024 but it will not affect their immigration status in any way.
Once you obtain your ILR BRP card, double check all the details on the card carefully and make sure there are no mistakes. If there are, you need to report them to the Home Office immediately.
Yes, it can be in the following cases:
However, the most frequent reason for an ILR to be cancelled is a permanent resident living outside the UK for two or more years. Under the EU Settlement Scheme, EU nationals will lose their settled status if they are absent for five years and Swiss citizens, four years.
ILR holders have the right to live and work in the UK without any restrictions and, as we have mentioned above, their status hardly differs from the one of a British citizen. Thus, some ILR holders, especially those who come from countries where it is prohibited to have a second citizenship, stick to this status instead of applying for citizenship.
However, most ILR holders usually go further and apply for naturalisation after 12 months of living in the country as a settled person. In order to become a British citizen, you need to have good knowledge of English as well as customs and tradition of living in the UK. Spouses of UK citizens can apply for citizenship straight after getting settlement, without having to wait for 12 months, provided they comply with all other criteria.
A new passport with the Lion and the Unicorn, UK symbols, will be given to you once you get naturalised as a British citizen. You will need to fill in a special form and pay a fee to get it. The process of issuing a passport lasts three to ten weeks, depending on your circumstances and the place where you applied for citizenship.
More detailed information about getting UK citizenship can be found on our website or during a prebooked consultation with Imperial & Legal specialists.
A continuous stay in the country is a key requirement for getting ILR in the UK. An applicant should not leave the country for over 180 days in any given 12-month period starting from their arrival in the UK and up to the application for the settled status; otherwise an applicant would not be considered a permanent resident.
180 days are almost six months which are usually enough even for those who must leave the country to resolve some issues. However, some work and business visa holders may struggle to comply with the requirement as they have to travel a lot for work. If it sounds like you, we recommend you consult Imperial & Legal advisors before you apply for ILR in Great Britain.
After having lived in Great Britain with your British spouse for five years, you can apply for ILR. You cannot submit your ILR application more than 28 days before completing five years as a spouse of a British citizen or a settled person.
In some respect, IRL application is similar to spouse visa application:
In addition to the above-mentioned requirements, you need to pass a Life in the UK test and prove good knowledge of English by passing an exam to B1 or higher level according to the European classification.
You can apply for British citizenship straight after being granted ILR if you comply with the relevant requirements.
Passing a Life in the UK test is mandatory for all ILR applicants aged 18 to 65. An applicant with mental of physical disability who can provide medical reports does not have to take the test. The test is held in one of 30 governmental centres. As a rule, it is subject to a prebooked appointment and payment of £50.
A standard test lasts for 45 minutes during which you are expected to answer 24 questions about traditions and everyday life in the UK. British citizens confess that some questions are confusing and challenging even for those who are born in Great Britain. However, practice tests are available online to help you prepare.
Our specialists help clients to get prepared for a Life in the UK test. However, if you decide to take it without any help and end up failing it, do not get discouraged: it can be retaken seven days later by paying another £50.
If you want to get settled after only two years of living in the UK, you need to apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa and invest at least £10,000,000 in UK companies.
Though an investor visa does not require any tests, you will still need to pass both a Life in the UK test or an English test when applying for ILR. Besides, you will need a financial advisor so that you could benefit from selling your assets and get your money back. Qualified Imperial & Legal specialists will be happy to assist you in these matters.
We are OISC regulated immigration lawyers that provide full immigration support in obtaining British citizenship. Contact us now to get expert advice.
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