UK Indefinite Leave to Remain : Complete Guide | Immtell

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Embark on Your Journey to Permanent Residency: Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK

Settling down in a new country involves several milestones and applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK is one of the most critical steps. Sometimes referred to as permanent residency, ILR provides you with the freedom to live and work in the UK without restrictions.

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding ILR

Navigating the path towards acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can seem daunting due to its complex process and stringent requirements. But worry not, Immtell is here to help you comprehend the subtleties of ILR, paving your way towards becoming a permanent resident of the UK.

Requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain

The eligibility criteria for ILR can seem complicated. It encompasses everything from continuous lawful residence requirements, passing the Life in the UK test, to demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the English language. It is also essential to have a clean immigration history and provide evidence of financial stability.

The following main UK visa types lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Tier 2 (General) / Skilled Worker
Health and Care Visa
Family Visas (Under Appendx FM)
UK Ancestry
Global Talent
The following UK visa types do not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), unless applying under the ten-year long residence route:
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))/Global Business Mobility Visa
Tier 4 Student/Student
Tier 5/Temporary Worker categories.
Visitor Visas

What constitutes ‘Continuous Residence’ in the UK?

The residency requirement for ILR varies depending on the UK visa type currently held.

Skilled Worker (previous Tier 2 (General) visa categories, the applicant should usually not have been absent from the UK:

  • for more than 180 days in any rolling 12-month period if the last visa was granted after 11 January 2018; or
  • for more than 180 days in any preceding 12-month period at the time of application if the last visa was granted before 11 January 2018

If the applicant has been in the UK with visas granted both before and after 11 January 2018, the applicable requirement will apply to the period that each visa was held, thus a combination of the two.

UK Ancestry visa category, the applicant should usually not have been absent from the UK:

  • for more than 180 days in any preceding 12-month period at the time of application if the last visa was granted before 11 January 2018

There is no official absence or continuous residence requirement for spouse/partners of a British citizen, or someone permanently settled in the UK. 

However, there is an expectation that the UK has been the principle place of residence during the qualifying five-year period for ILR and the applicant should be resident at the time of application. If one has been absent from the UK significantly during the five-year qualifying period, this may raise additional questions by the caseworker and as such the application should be well prepared. 

Do dependant family members also have to meet the residence requirement?

Qualifying family dependants, essentially those that hold UK visas or permits as the dependant of the ‘main applicant’, for example Skilled Worker, are usually also permitted to apply for ILR once they have held the appropriate immigration permission for a minimum of five years and the other requirements are met.

The UK continuous residence requirement for dependants is only applicable if the last visa was granted after 11 January 2018.  If applicable, absences from the UK must not exceed 180 days in any rolling 12-month period.  There is no requirement for dependants of the UK Ancestry visa.

Life in the UK & English Language Requirements

Life in the UK Test
All applicants who apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and are aged between 18 and 65 years must pass the Life in the UK Test. Additional information regarding the Life in the UK Test can be found by clicking on the following link: HERE. It is advisable to purchase one of the various comprehensive books available to aid in the preparation for the test. Due to the significance and nature of the examination, we recommend investing in one of these books. Some of the most popular Life in the UK Test books can be purchased HERE.
English Language Requirement for ILR
In addition to passing the Life in the UK test, applicants aged between 18 and 65 years applying for ILR in the UK must satisfy the English language requirement. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, depending on the applicant’s circumstances, including:

  • If the ILR applicant is a national of what the UK considers to be a predominately English-speaking country, the applicant’s passport in isolation is enough evidence to meet language requirement
  • Pass an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) in English speaking and listening qualification at a minimum level of B1, of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Obtained a minimum of a UK Bachelor’s degree from a UK university; or
  • Obtained a minimum of an equivalent UK Bachelor’s degree which was taught in English and confirmed as such from ECCTIS – we can assist you with this
  • How do you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

    Document Gathering, Preparation & Submission
    You complete an online application form, submit the form and pay the relevant government fee;
    Book an Appointment
    You book an appointment to attend an application centre to provide your biometrics (photograph and fingerscans);
    Upload Documents
    You upload your supporting documents to the government’s system;
    Attend an Appointment
    You attend the appointment and provide your biometrics
    UKVI Reviews Application
    Your ILR application is processed by the Home Office, usually within 8 weeks/6 months (depending on route) via the Standard Service or by the next business day via the Super Priority Service if available
    Application Outcome Notification
    You receive notification of approval and your new Biometric Residence Card (BRP card) should follow approximately one to two weeks later.

    What else do you need to know about ILR?

    Although once granted ILR, the holder will no longer be subject to any time limits or restrictions in the UK, it is important to understand that the immigration status can be lost.

    Examples of when Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can be revoked/lapse include:

    If absent from the UK for more than 2 years (5 years if granted under the EU Settlement Scheme), ILR status is likely to lapse as the holder is no longer deemed resident in the UK;
    If the holder commits a serious criminal offence which could lead to deportation from the UK; or
    If the Security of State deems the presence of the holder non-conducive to public good and/or reasons of national security.

    The Advantages of ILR

    Securing ILR not only provides you with the security of permanent residence, but it also opens up several opportunities. You get the freedom to work without restrictions, gain access to public funds, and it’s a stepping stone towards applying for British citizenship.

    Expert Guidance for your ILR Application with Immtell

    Our team of experienced immigration consultants at Immtell understand the complexities of the ILR application process. We offer expert guidance tailored to your personal circumstances, ensuring that your application is accurate and meets all the required standards. With Immtell, your path to permanent residency in the UK is made simpler and stress-free.