For UK Passport queries, please contact HMPO Passport office on 0300 222 0000 or visit gov.uk
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK
Indefinite-Leave-to-Remain visa, or ILR status, is an important step in the process of obtaining British Citizenship for the UK. The Indefinite-Leave-to-Remain is a type of residence permit settlement that allows a person the right to live and work in the United Kingdom without any kind of restriction.
If you are looking to apply for the ILR Status or to settle in the UK, our experienced team of immigration experts can help with the process and ensure that all the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements are met.
Call us at 0207 043 2167 or send an email if you have any queries related to the UK ILR application or need immigration related assistance. Our expert team is experienced at assessing your situation accurately and guiding you in the application process for Indefinite Leave To Remain and payment of home office fees for this purpose. Our team will help you with each step of your application for the ILR. We will also assist to ensure that all your documents are in place and that you meet all the requirements for applying for an ILR status to the Home Office UK.
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain
The answer to what is an Indefinite Leave to Remain or a Permanent Leave to Remain is that it is a type of settlement that is available to the citizens of the non-EEA (European Economic Area) countries. The EEA includes European Union countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
A commonly asked question is whether the Indefinite Leave to Remain is the same as a citizenship status for the UK. The Indefinite Leave to Remain does not mean citizenship for the UK, but it is the first step towards obtaining full citizenship for the United Kingdom and allows a person to live and leave the UK without any kind of restrictions. A person can seek an ILR status only after he has resided in the UK for a minimum period of five years. However, under certain circumstances, the application can also be made after a person has resided in the UK for three years.
Leave to Remain vs Indefinite Leave to Remain
Indefinite Leave to Remain is different from a Leave to Remain, as the latter allows a person to enter and stay in the United Kingdom for a specific period of time. With an ILR, the person gets permission to permanently live and work in the UK.
An Indefinite Leave to Remain is a type of permanent residency or settlement in the UK. It is important to note here that the term ‘permanent residence’ is used to refer to the settlement status of nationals and family members belonging to the EEA countries while the Indefinite Leave to Remain is a status granted to non-EEA nationals. Please note that “Permanent residence” is no longer feasible post the UK leaving the EU as activated during the Brexit progress.
The Leave to Remain visa in the UK is granted on the condition that the person will have
- No recourse to public funds and will need to take care of himself and his dependents.
- No welfare benefits or assistance is available to people granted the Leave to Remain in the UK plus certain other restrictions are applicable.
When a person applies for an Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR and is granted the same, he is free from any kind of immigration restrictions and has the same entitlements and welfare benefits as a UK citizen. A person who has an ILR status can also be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by naturalisation after a set period of time.
Requirements and Eligibility for an Indefinite Leave to Remain - ILR
The first and the most essential requirement for applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain status is that the applicant must have been residing in the United Kingdom for a specific period while adhering to the laws of the country. Other requirements for the Indefinite Leave to Remain status application differ from one applicant to another depending on their individual circumstances and the type of visa held.
When can you apply for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain? The answer is based on:
- How long you have been living in the United Kingdom and abiding by the country’s law for a definite time period
- You do not have a criminal record and have adhered to the immigration laws while residing in the United Kingdom.
- You have not spent more than 180 days outside the United Kingdom in the period of 12 months during the time considered for your qualification for an ILR.
- You have passed the test on the history, culture, and traditions of the UK.
- You have adequate knowledge of the English language. This requirement involves meeting the specified level of English according to a common framework.
Different Routes to Getting an ILR Indefinite Leave to Remain Status
When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
If you have this question, the answer depends on several factors including the number of years you have resided in the UK, the type of visa and your knowledge of the English language and the British culture.
A person who has been lawfully residing in the United Kingdom or settled in the UK under a settlement visa is eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after completing the mandatory time period for it.
Visas that allow a person to apply for the ILR status are:
1) Spouse visas that include Visa for Unmarried Partner and Family Visa
2) Tier 1 Visas for Global Talent which includes:
- Visa for People with Exceptional Talent
- Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Entrepreneur Visa
- Investor Visa
- Innovator Visa
- Start-up Visa
3) Tier 2 visas for skilled foreign workers with a job offer. This includes:
- General Visa
- Sportsperson Visa
4) UK Ancestry Visa
5) Retired Person Visa
6) Long Residence - Residing in the UK legally for 10 years or more
7) Returning Residence
5) Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
6) Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
In addition to visa holders of the above categories, some other people can become eligible for an Indefinite Leave to Remain status through alternative routes.
Some categories of people are not required to apply for ILR to be granted a Settled UK status. These include:
- People who are eligible for getting British Citizenship by descent or other automatic routes.
- Dependent Children of British citizens or people with a settled status.
- Dependent adults who require long-term care of a family member who is either a British Citizen or a person having a settled status.
- Refugees who have resettled in the United Kingdom through the Gateway Protection Program.
After What Period Can I Apply for an Indefinite Leave to Return?
The period that a person must have resided in the UK before becoming eligible for applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR depends on the type of visa held. People belonging to non-EEA countries are eligible for applying for ILR if they have completed lawful residence for five consecutive years in the country. Visa holders of a Spouse Visa, and Visa to Unmarried Partner, Family Visa, Tier 2 Visas and a UK Ancestry visa become eligible to apply for ILR after having completed five years.
Visa Holders Who Can Apply for an ILR After 4 Years
Commonwealth Citizens who have served the British Armed Forces are eligible to apply for ILR after having completed four years of staying in the UK.
Visa Holders Who Can Apply for ILR After 3 Years
- A person holding an Innovator Visa becomes eligible for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application in the UK after completing three years of stay depending on his achievements.
- A person holding a Tier 1 category of Entrepreneur Visa depending on his business. Although this type of visa is not issued anymore, those who have been holding it are eligible to apply.
- Global Talent Visa holders become eligible for applying for ILR after a three-year stay if they received the latest endorsement due to their extraordinary talent or promise or under the criteria of UK research and innovation.
- Tier 1 Investor Visa holders become eligible after a stay of two and in some cases three years on the basis of their business activities
- Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa holders also become eligible for an ILR application after three years if they received the last endorsement on the criteria of extraordinary talent.
As per British Immigration rules, Long Residence visa holders above the age of 18 years are required to spend ten years in the UK before they are eligible for ILR application in the UK. For Long Residence visa holders below the age of 18, the eligibility for ILR application is 7 years of residence in the UK.
What is the English Knowledge Test?
One of the major requirements for getting an Indefinite Leave to Remain status or Indefinite Visa is the applicant’s ability to prove that he can speak or understand English that matches the level set by the authorities. The test aims to test the applicant’s knowledge of English as per the standards set by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
This means that the applicant needs to submit a certificate stating that he has cleared the B1 level of English. The certificate should be issued by an approved agency. As per rules, citizens of commonwealth countries or countries where English is widely spoken are not required to submit the results of the English Knowledge Test.
Exemptions from the Test
Citizens of major countries where English is the official language are not required to take the English Knowledge Test before applying for the ILR status. These countries are:
- The United States
- Island State of Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Saint Lucia
- Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
In addition to people from the above countries, those who are 65 years or above are also exempt from the English test. Other exemptions are:
- Degree holders or people with higher qualifications from accredited educational institutions where the teaching medium was English.
- People who come under protection on humanitarian grounds.
- Domestic Abuse victims
- Applicants whose British Citizen spouse of spouse with a settled status has died.
What is the Life in the UK Test?
The Life in the UK test aims to test the knowledge of the applicant about the United Kingdom’s history, culture, and traditions. The test is an essential part of the Indefinite Leave to Remain grant process. The 45-minute test comprises over 20 questions and an applicant who scores 75% or more passes the test.
A candidate can retake for the test any number of times, provided there is a gap of at least seven days between two attempts. The test can be taken at the accredited centres by paying a fee of £50. A candidate can only take the test at a centre located nearest to his residence by showing his identification document plus any correspondence in the last three months stating the UK address.
People below 18 and above 65 years are not required to take the test. An exemption from the Life in the UK test is also available if a person can furnish a doctor’s certificate of a mental or physical ailment that is long term in nature.
What is Meant By Periods of Absence?
One of the important requirements for a person’s eligibility for the ILR status is that he should not have resided outside the UK for over 180 days in a period of 12 months. However, this rule is waived if a person has been outside the UK for business reasons or on exceptional grounds:
- A conflict or a natural disaster
- Serious ailment of self or a family member
- Overseas work undertaken by full time HM armed force reserve members
- Tier 2 category General Visa holders who got sponsorship for an occupation that is equivalent to a PhD
- Absent applicants having a Tier 1 visa for Exceptional Talent or Global Talent visa
If you are planning to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain status, do keep a record of any time spent by you outside the UK, during your period of residence in the UK.
Documents Required for My Indefinite Leave to Remain Application
What do I need to apply for indefinite leave to remain?
Applicants wish to know the process and the documents to be submitted. Our expert team can guide you through the entire process and help you arrange all the required documents for applying for ILR.
The application for an ILR status has to be accompanied by several original papers supporting your identity and other details. Documents supporting the details of your dependents are also needed to be submitted. The Home Office will seek reasons for the unavailability of the original documents and will excuse you if there are any exceptional circumstances.
The list of documents required to be submitted with the ILR status application:
- All travel documents besides your passports pertaining to your stay in the United Kingdom.
- Certificates of Birth and adoption certificates
- Travel documents related to your stay outside the United Kingdom during your residence period.
- A registration certificate issued by the police after your arrival in the UK if applicable
- Your immigration history
- Bank statements showing your financial status
- Passing certificate of Life in the UK Test
- Passing Certificate for B1 Level English Test
- Two passport size photographs
Which Forms Do I Need to Completefor my ILR Application?
Two types of Indefinite Leave to Remain application forms are available.
The Form Set (M) is to be filled by an applicant who is applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a partner of a UK citizen or the parent of a child already settled in the United Kingdom.
The second Form Set (O) is to be used in all other cases, including applicants living in the UK under Tier 1 visa for Investors and visa for Exceptional Talent, Tier 2 visas and PBS dependents. People living in the UK under the UK Ancestry visas also have to fill this form for their ILR applications.
ILR online applications are accepted by the UK immigration authorities.
ILR Application Fee
How much does an Indefinite Leave to Remain ILR Cost?
The cost of the Indefinite Leave to Remain visa will depend on how quickly you wish to get the process completed. The Leave to Remain fees are £2,389 per person for normal processing for applicants of all ages. Even if you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain for a child or a dependent you still have to pay the fee of £2,389 along with their ILR applications.
You can also opt for premium services for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application processing. The priority option means the processing of your ILR application will be completed within five days (working days) on payment of an additional fee of £500.
The super priority services which involves an additional charge of £800 which entails processing of your application in a single working day.
What is the Processing Time For an Indefinite Leave to Remain Application?
Although it is difficult to mention a specific processing time for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications, it generally takes six months to complete the process. The time taken by the Home Office to process your ILR status application will depend on the routes and visa categories and other personal circumstances of your application.
You can choose to expedite the processing of your ILR visa application by opting for the Super Priority service by paying an additional fee of £800. The UK immigration authorities provide an indefinite leave to remain check status option online.
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK as a Spouse?
The Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK spouse option is available to the spouse of a partner settled in the United Kingdom if he or she has completed a five-year lawful residence in the country on a spouse visa.
One of the most popular visas, the spouse visa is meant for non-EEA citizens who wish to live in the UK with their partners. The visa is initially given for a 30-month period and is extendable for another 30 months after that. A person living in the UK on a spouse visa can apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain after the completion of the 60 months, but only if they meet all the requirements for the ILR status.
What is the Biometric Residence Permit with ILR?
Another essential requirement for applying for the ILR status is having a Biometric Residence Permit or BRP. This identification card includes the name of the holder, their date of birth and fingerprints, along with a photograph. The permit also provides details related to your status as per immigration rules, benefit entitlements and services accessible to you and any conditions related to your stay in the UK.
The BRP is valid for a period of up to 10 years and has an expiry date. You need to apply for a replacement three months before its expiry. Having a BRP is essential for the ILR status application. We can guide you through the whole process of getting a BRP.
What if my ILR Application is Rejected?
If your Indefinite leave to remain is rejected, the Home Office will communicate to you the reason for refusing you an ILR status in the letter sent by them. Some possible reasons are:
- A mistake in the application. This can be rectified by submitting the application again after correcting the mistake.
- If you are sure that your application was correct and that the rejection was unfair, you can challenge it.
- If you believe the rejection was related to the Home Office failing to take into account a particular evidence, you can opt for an administrative review. This means you are seeking a reconsideration of your application by another immigration official.
Although you have the right to appeal against the Home Office’s decision to reject your application, the option is not available in certain situations and the same will be mentioned in the refusal letter sent by the Home Office.
Our expert team can explain all the options to you, if your ILR application is rejected and you wish to reapply, appeal or seek a review.
What Rights Does the ILR Status Provide Me?
Another frequently asked question is this: When I have Indefinite Leave to Remain status, what are my rights?
The Indefinite Leave to Remain status is a type of permanent residence wherein the holders can stay in the UK without any kind of restrictions imposed on them. They can freely work and study in the country, besides being eligible for availing the government funded National Health Care Services (NHS).
Circumstances Under Which an ILR Status Can Be Revoked
The ILR status can be revoked under certain circumstances, including:
- If you are no longer a refugee and you were granted an ILR status as a refugee
- If you are required to be deported but the government cannot do so because of legal reasons.
- If it was found that you received the ILR status by submitting false information or deceiving the authorities.
- If you leave the United Kingdom for more than two years.
Does ILR Automatically Leads to a British Citizenship?
Can I apply for permanent residence in the UK?
Yes you can but only after 12 months, provided your circumstances remain the same.
Getting an Indefinite Leave to Remain status in the UK is an important step for applying for British citizenship, but the process is not automatic. The applicant needs to submit to the authorities a completed application for British Citizenship by Naturalisation.
What is the EEA Citizens Settlement Scheme?
The option to apply for an ILR or Indefinite Leave to Remain status is not available to the citizens of countries that are a part of the EEA (European Economic Area). The citizens of the EEA countries are eligible to apply for another type of residency in the UK. This settlement scheme, also available to citizens of the EU and Switzerland, allows successful applicants to reside and work in the UK after June 30, 2021, subject to the UK leaving the EU with a valid deal during the Brexit negotiations.
As per this settlement scheme, the applicants will be granted either a pre-settled or a settled status depending on the duration of their stay in the United Kingdom. The settled status will be granted to people who have been living in the country for five years continuously and started living in the country by December 31, 2020.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Requirements for Applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain?
The ILR status in the UK can be applied via different routes. A candidate can apply for an ILR if they have been in the UK with consent as a partner or a member of the family or on a Tier 2 visa, as a continuous and lawful residence with a visa for a long term and ancestry visa.
The dependent children of a UK citizen or a person settled in the country can be granted immediate permission to remain indefinitely. Similarly, refugees who are resettled in the UK on the basis of the Gateway Protection Programme are allowed to remain indefinitely in the UK with immediate effect.
What is the Application Process for the ILR Status and Which Form Needs to be Filled?
The Home Office is the UK government’s office that handles immigration and passport related matters. It is the authority where you have to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain. There are two types of ILR application forms - Form SET (O) and Form SET (M) - for different circumstances. Choosing the right form is important and filling it correctly is even more crucial for avoiding rejection by the Home Office. Our expert team can help you choose the correct form, get the documents ready, fill the application accurately and submit it along with the supporting documents to the Home Office.
You need to fill Form M if you are applying as a spouse or civil partner or partner of a person already present and settled in the UK. All other applicants are required to fill the Form O.
When Can I Apply for ILR?
You can apply for an ILR if you are already in the country and have lived here lawfully for a specific period of time, have good knowledge of the English language and the life and history of the United Kingdom. You need to pass tests for these requirements. Exemptions are available for the English language and Knowledge of UK tests for children under 18 years, parents and grandparents and other dependents of people settled in the UK. The exemption is also available to refugees residing in the country.
An applicant is not required to give the English test for ILR status if he holds a recognised qualification in English or has a degree that was taught in English. Nationals of a country where English is spoken widely are also exempt from the English Language test for ILR status applications.
Another important part of the ILR application procedure is the Biometric Residence Permit which displays the applicant’s fingerprints and photograph and confirms the immigration status of the applicants.
What are the Charges for Applying for an ILR Status?
The ILR fees charged by the Home Office is £2,389 per person. An additional charge of £19.20 is applicable for the registration of the biometric information, an important step in the ILR application process.
Am I Eligible to Apply for the ILR Status After 5 Years?
When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or can I apply for the ILR status after 5 years?
Normally, a person who has been a resident of the United Kingdom for five years can fill the form for seeking the ILR status. However, some applicants need to wait for ten years before they can apply. The tenure of residence after which a person can apply for the ILR status depends on the visa held by him and several other requirements.
For How Much TIme Can I Stay Outside the UK with My ILR Status?
A person’s ILR status can be revoked if he leaves the country for a period of two years and above during the period they hold an ILR. If you left the UK for a long period and then came back, you have to ensure that the time spent in countries other than the UK is not against the ILR guidelines.
What Purpose Does an ILR Card serve?
How do I prove I have an Indefinite Leave to Remain?
They can do so by showing their ILR card.
The UK Indefinite Leave to Remain card is the document issued to a person whose ILR status application has been approved. The card is issued once the applicant meets the various requirements of the ILR application. This includes clearing The English Knowledge Test.
The ILR card proves that you have been granted a settled status and can be presented while renting property, applying for jobs and seeking UK citizenship.
Is it Mandatory to Take a Life in the UK Test for ILR?
The Life in the UK Test is compulsory for all applicants in the age group of 18 to 65 years, who are applying for UK citizenship or settlement.
The test aims to check the applicant’s familiarity with the history, customs and traditions of Britain. The computer-based test comprises 24 multiple choice questions related to British history, value, culture and life in the UK.
The applicants are required to score 75% or more to pass the test and satisfy the eligibility requirements for ILR. The test can be attempted any number of times on the payment of a fee.
Our expert team can help you in your preparation for the Life in the UK test.
If I have a Criminal Conviction, Can I Still Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
The possibility of your criminal conviction affecting your ILR approval will depend on the type of conviction. Although any unspent convictions are unlikely to affect your suitability for ILR, individual circumstances are important. It is best to discuss your individual situation with an immigration specialist who can guide you about your conviction and its possible impact on your ILR application.
How Long Before My Visa Expires Can I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
You can usually apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain within the 28-day period preceding the date of expiry of your visa or 28 days before the completion of your residential period in the UK from the date you entered the country, whichever is earlier.
We advise you to check with an immigration specialist about the correct time to apply for an ILR status in your individual case.
What Kind of Travel Restrictions Are There for ILR Holders?
There are certain travel restrictions for an Indefinite Leave to Remain visa holders. Although the ILR holders are free to move in and out of the UK, they are required to carry their BRP with them. The failure to carry their BRP can lead to a refusal to re-enter the UK.
If the ILR holder stays outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown dependencies for a period of two or more years, the ILR gets revoked automatically.
Do I Need to Renew My Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Although the ILR status allows you to stay in the UK for an indefinite period without any restrictions, it can be revoked under certain situations. As per UK immigration rules, the ILR status gets revoked if the holder leaves the UK, Ireland or the Crown dependencies for a period of two continuous years. A two-year absence means the ILR status holder is no longer present and settled in the UK. However, some exemptions from this rule are available.
If your ILR status stands revoked due to a two-year absence from the UK, you will be required to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident. If you are granted permission to enter the UK as a returning resident, your ILR gets restored. The application for returning residents needs to be made prior to their travel back to the UK.
You need to apply for a returning resident visa if your ILS status has been revoked due to a two-year absence from the country. It costs £516 Do you to renew an Indefinite Leave to Remain?
What is Further Leave to Remain?
Some people who are yet to fulfil the requirements for an ILR application, can continue to reside in the UK by getting a temporary extension of their visa. Known as a Further Leave to Remain, this option is available in limited circumstances. The application for extension of your stay has to be made before the expiry of the existing visa to avoid removal from the country.
In most cases, visitors to the UK are not allowed to stay in the country for more than six months. In some special circumstances they will be allowed to switch their visa category, but the application for the same must be submitted before the expiry of the current visa.
Can I Work While Waiting for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Your immigration status remains unchanged if the application for the ILR status is submitted 28 days before the expiry of your existing visa. During the waiting period, you have the right to work and access education.
How can we can help?
We are an OISC registered immigration firm, and a leading provider of immigration related services besides visa and passport processing services. Our expert team offers the following services:
- Communicating with you in person, via phone at a time suitable to you.
- Assessing your eligibility for ILR status.
- Checking your documents to ensure their adequacy for ILR status application.
- Helping you prepare for the Life in the UK test.
- Assisting you with your English Language test.
- Preparing a Letter of Representation to be submitted along with your ILR application.
- Ensuring that your application is completed and accompanied by all the essential documents.
- Submitting your ILR application to the Home Office.
- Communicating and coordinating with the Home Office for the processing of your application.
- Guiding you about the next steps if your ILS application is rejected by the Home office.
- Helping you file an administrative or judicial review, as applicable.
- Resubmitting of your application.
- Filing an appeal against the Home Office’s decision to reject your application.