What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settlement available to non-EEA citizens.
Typically, you need to have spent at least five years in the UK before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, though in certain circumstances you can apply after three years of residence in the UK.
Many different types of immigration visas can lead to ILR including Spouse Visas, Tier 1 Visas and Tier 2 work Visas.
Indefinite Leave to Remain enables a person to live in the UK without any restrictions, and is the first step towards naturalisation and full citizenship.
What are the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements and eligibility?
The specific requirements differ depending on the particular circumstances of the applicant, including the type of visa they hold.
The most basic requirement for ILR is to have been lawfully living in the UK for a certain period of time. However, there are other requirements which must be fulfilled too.
The general requirements to become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain are based on:
- Lawful living in the UK for a certain period of time
- No breach of immigration laws during your stay in the UK and no criminal record
- A period of time spent outside the UK which doesn’t exceed 180 days in a 12-month period during the qualifying period
- A pass in the Life in the UK test, which is a test based on British culture, history and traditions
- Ability to prove that you meet the B1 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Languages
Certain individuals will not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted with settled UK status.
For example, a child dependant of a British citizen or someone with UK settled status might be granted permission to stay in the UK indefinitely. Also. refugees who have resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Program could be automatically granted permission to stay in the UK.
ILR Qualification Criteria
To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain you must saitsfy the following criteria:
You must complete 5 years of continuous residence in the UK and adhere to certain income requirements
Keep a detailed record of any absences from the UK over the last 5 years, as any lengthy absences may impact upon your application
You must demonstrate a good knowledge of language and life in the UK, by way of the Life in the UK’ test – a compulsory 45 minute test devised for foreign nationals seeking indefinite leave to remain in the UK or naturalisation as a British citizen
How long is Indefinite Leave to Remain valid for?
There is no time limit on Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, however it is important to note that you should not spend periods of more than two years outside the UK as this may lead to the loss of ILR.
Loss of Indefinite Leave to Remain
There are a number of circumstances that may cause you to lose your Indefinite Leave To Remain status. For example, if you leave the UK and upon return are granted leave to enter the UK other than for an indefinite period. This may occur because you mistakenly seek to enter as a visitor, or the immigration officer believes that you do not intend to reside in the UK.
Indefinite Leave To Remain may also be revoked if you commit an offence that could lead to you being deported from the UK, or for reasons of national security.
You may also lose ILR status by leaving the UK for a period of more than two years, however in some circumstances you may be able to reapply. Please note that British Overseas citizens, British subjects and British protected persons do not lose their Indefinite Leave To Remain status no matter how long they stay outside the UK.
What are the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements?
There are certain requirements which must be fulfilled for someone to become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The most fundamental requirement is to have lawfully lived in the UK continuously for a certain period of time. In most instances, a non-EEA person will be able to apply for ILR after five years. That being said, the minimum time requirement is based on the visa the person is living under and their particular circumstances.
As well as the time requirement, there are other ILR requirements which a prospective applicant needs to fulfil to become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
These requirements are as follows:
- No criminal convictions or breach of immigration laws
- A pass in the Life in the UK test
- Ability to prove a B1 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (unless exempt)
- The applicant must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during their UK residency
It is important to note that if an applicant is found to have deceived the Home Office in any application or during their time in the UK, they will not be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain and further disciplinary action could be taken.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are the UK Child Dependent Visa requirements?
- under the age of 18;
- not leading an independent life;
- not married or in a civil partnership; and
- has not formed an independent family unit.
There are several additional requirements, with more for adopted children.
If the parent of the dependent child applies to enter or remain in the UK as a partner or parent, they must meet a financial requirement. In all other cases, the parent will need to show they can accommodate the child without help from public funds. In some cases, depending on the status of the parent(s) settlement, the child may need to apply as a points-based system (PBS) dependent
More information on Child Dependent Visas
Am I eligible for an Adult Dependent Visa?
The application must be made from outside the UK and your visa must be obtained before travelling.
More information on Adult Dependent Visas
Am I eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa?
You cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents.
A British Ancestry Visa allows holders to live, work and study in the UK for a period of up to five years, at which point they may be eligible to apply for a renewal or apply for settled status in the UK.
Find out more about UK Ancestry Visas
Can I join my migrant relative in the UK?
As the partner or dependent child (under 18) of a migrant who is in or coming to the UK under most categories of the points-based system, you can apply for a visa to join them here as a PBS dependent.
You will need to show that:
- you intend to live with the migrant worker, and
- your relationship is genuine.
Or for children:
- you have not formed an independent family unit, or
- are leading an independent life.
The migrant worker will also need to prove that they can support you without relying on public funds.
Is there a visa for parents of British citizens?
- you have sole responsibility for the child, or at the very least access rights;
- you can maintain yourself without relying on public funds;
- you meet the suitability and English language requirements.
If you meet all the requirements you will be given temporary permission to remain in the UK for 30 months. You will be eligible to stay for a further 30 months if you continue to meet the requirements and after five years you can apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain).
If you are outside the UK you must obtain your visa before travelling.
If you are already in the UK you will be eligible so long as you are not on a Visitor Visa or on temporary admission, permission to stay was not given for a period of less than six months (unless as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) and you are not in breach of the Immigration Rules (overstaying for less than 28 days will not be taken into account).
I am here under the Points Based System (PBS) - can my family members join me?
I have been refused a Family Visa UK – can I appeal?
As the law currently stands, you will be able to appeal in the event that your UK Family Visa is refused.
In the event that your application is refused, there may be other options even after the refusal. Speak to an immigration lawyer to get the best and most up to date advice.
The law at the present time in respect of Visit Visas does not allow for a full right of appeal. You can only appeal such visas on very restricted grounds. If you have been refused a Family Visit Visa it is advisable to speak to one of our experts to advise on your options.
What services does LPS offer?
With our team of expert immigration lawyers, we will be able to assist you with any type of Family Visa application.
- assess your eligibility for a Family Visa;
- assess whether your UK relative is eligible to act as your sponsor;
- help you make sure you have acceptable proof of your relationship to your relative for your application;
- perform a full document check to ensure that they are sufficient;
- confer with you in person, via phone or Skype at a suitable time for you;
- prepare a Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This is a document containing information about your case and its merits. It will also reference all relevant UK immigration laws that might support your application;
- liaise with the Home Office throughout the process;
- complete each part of your application in full and to a professional standard