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What Is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)/settlement is the pivotal step and end-goal for the number of foreign immigrants including civil partners/spouses/skilled workers/business-entrepreneurs/investors, sportsperson, etc. Ultimately, it’s a pathway towards British naturalization and getting full British Citizenship. Once you are granted ILR you can enjoy your Life in the United Kingdom without any Immigration restrictions and control. You can live and enjoy the culture and family life in the UK.

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    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

    So, if you are looking to settle in the UK permanently, follow the eligibility conditions to apply for the ILR route, which includes satisfying the minimum qualifying residency period (the lawful period of staying in the UK under a specific immigration route).

    If you are unable to fulfil the requirements or fail to satisfy the criteria for settlement you will not be granted Indefinite Leave to remain. Nevertheless, the Home Office might permit at this point that you might be considered to further extend your stay.

    What is the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements and eligibility?

    Requirements and eligibility— Indefinite Leave to Remain Status

    Typically, the major requirements to become eligible to Indefinite Leave to Remain status are as follows, you must be able to:

    • Take and pass the Standard English language requirements.
    • lawfully reside in the UK for the minimum qualifying period as set out by the Home Office (UK Immigration policy)
    • Satisfy the ‘character suitability’ requirements—have no criminal record or have not breached any immigration law during your stay in the UK.
    • Meet the 180-days limit and must not stay outside the UK for more than 180-days and in a consecutive 12-month period.
    • Pass the ‘Life in UK test.’

    What is the minimum continuous period for ILR status?

    Minimum continuous period

    The requirements to qualify for the settlement/ILR vary depending on the applicant’s circumstances, including the nature of the visa (type of immigration route) they hold. For instance:

    • Domestic Worker in a Private Household route, applicants are eligible to apply after lawfully living in the UK for 5 continuous years.
    •  Entrepreneur – Tier 1 route—the qualifying period to settlement is 3 or 5 years.
    •  Investor – Tier 1 route—applicants can qualify to ILR/settlement after 2,3, or 5 years provided they have met the requirements.

    And the applicants with Retired Person of Independent route—the qualifying period to settlement is after 5 years.

    What are the different routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain?

    Routes to ILR UK

    If you have been abiding by the immigration rules and regulations whilst residing in the UK under a settlement Visa UK, you are entitled to apply for the ILR. The minimum threshold qualifying period depends on the kind of visa or immigration route you are holding, and these include:

    • T1 Investor Visa (Tier 1)
    • Tier 1 Start-up Visa
    • Global Talent (Tier1 (exceptional Talent)
    • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
    • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
    • Spouse Visa
    • Family Visa
    • Civil Partners
    • Long residence
    • Retired Person Visa
    • Returning Resident
    • T2 Ministry of Religion (Tier 2 Visa)
    • Skilled Worker (Tier 2 (general)
    • T2 sportsperson (Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
    • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
    • Representative of an overseas (Sole Representative Visa)

    There are other routes that permit an applicant to become eligible for ILR. Find out more with our Axis Legal Advisors on 0800 048 7573 or feel free to drop an email: (

    Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years?

    ILR after 5-years continuous Period

    As mentioned earlier, the minimum qualifying period to stand eligible for ILR /settlement depends on your current resident status and the type of visa you are holding in the UK.

    In most cases, if you are non-EEA, whether you are residing outside/ inside the UK, then 5 -year continuous period of lawful residence is applied. Typically, the following visa holders can apply for ILR Uafter five years of continuous period:

    • UK Ancestry Visa
    • Family Visa
    • Spouse Visa
    • Unmarried Partner Visa
    • Fiancé Visa once the Switch to Spouse visa
    • Business Visas

    Contact us for detailed guidance on these visa categories.

    ILR with less than 5 years of Residency

    However, under particular circumstances, it is possible that the minimum threshold to qualify for ILR is less than 5 years of Residency in the UK, and these include:

    • Tier 1 Global Talent Visa—applicants can apply for ILR UK only after three years of continuous residence in the UK. Provided the last endorsement was designated under the ‘exceptional promise/exceptional talent’ criteria for the British Academy or Royal Academy of Engineering or the Royal Society.
    • Tier 1 Investor Visa – Investors can apply for settlement after 2,3 or 5 years, depending upon their level of investment.
    • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa—can be eligible after 3 years depending upon Business activity.
    • For citizens of the Commonwealth (those who served for the British Armed Forces), the qualifying period to ILR is after only 4 years.

    ILR 10 years long residency

    Once the applicants have completed their 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The lawful residence period can be completed with various combinations of visa applications.

    The applicants must not have more than 540 days of absence from the Uk in 10 years period.

    However, in case of absences over 540 days, the Home office can exercise discretion in some instances.

    If your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is due and you have exceeded the number of days you are eligible to remain outside the UK (under 10 years long residence), contact our legal team at Axis Solicitors to discuss your circumstances in detail.

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    What do I need to know about English Language requirements for ILR UK?

    English language requirements ILR UK

    It is required to satisfy UK immigration rules, and regulations including meeting the standard English language (B1 level specified by CEFR) requirements to stand eligible for the Permanent Residency/ Indefinite Leave to Remain UK.

    You can fulfil the English language requirement in the following ways:

    • A certificate of English Proficiency issued by the certified and approved test centre OR

    Accredited English taught degree (Bachelors/Masters/Ph.D.) recognizable by UK ENIC (previously known as UK NARIC)

    How long can I stay out of the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain?

    Staying outside the UK— 180-days limit

    To be eligible for the Usettlement status and Indefinite Leave to Remain, the absences must not be outside the UK for more than 180-days during the last consecutive 12 months period. Please bear in mind that the 180-days limit stipulates to include only whole days and any part days absence such as less than 24 hours are not included. Also, if the applicant had a single absence during the 12 months and arrived in the UK on the 181 days, the period doesn’t count towards exceeding the 180-day limit.

    180-day absence rule exemptions—Compelling reasons

    The applicants need to maintain a record of a minimum qualifying period to become eligible for the ILR status in the UK. The exemptions to the 180-day absence rule are applicable in certain circumstances (i.e., if you are out of the UK for business visits etc.) must be supported by compelling reasons when filing an ILR application.

    Other compelling reasons include:

    • Absences with Tier2 (General) Visa/Skilled worker Visa holders who are sponsored a PhD. Level occupation
    • Due to Conflict
    • `A natural disaster
    • Any serious illness of the close family member they have paid a most recent visit to
    • If the applicants take absences with Exceptional Talent Visa (Tier1)/ Global talent Visa holders

    If the absence was due to the applicant assisting with a national or international economic or humanitarian crisis

    What is the Life in the UK test?

    Life in the UK test for ILR UK

    Life in the UK/ British Citizenship Test is a 24-questions (45 minutes long) computerized test based on the understanding of the history, culture, and customs of the United Kingdom. This test is fundamentally important for the applicants to pass, to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain status. It is, therefore, part of one of the important Home office criteria for a successful ILR application.

    Life in the UK test— Minimum passing score & cost

    The minimum passing score is 75% so be sure to be well-prepared before sitting for this test. Generally, you are required to book your slot 3 days in advance before appearing for the test. The average cost is approximately £50.

    Re-appearing for the Life in the UK test

    In case if you were not able to pass the test, you can always re-take the test. You can re-take as many times as you want until you get a satisfactory passing score, so there is no limit to re-appearing.

    Life in the UK test exemption for the disabled

    Additionally, people under 18 or above 65 are exempt from taking a Life in the UK test. Also, those who suffer from mental or physical disabilities. So long as they have written proof of medical record issued by the approved medical professional. The detailed list of people exempt from Life in The UK Test and English language requirements is mentioned below.

    Life in the UK test—Identification documents

    It is also important to note that when you are booking the test, you are required to provide the accurate mailing addresscredit/debit A/C detailsa valid identification number (Biometric Residence permit/Driving licence/Passport ID) which you are also required to bring in on the test day. You must also bring a utility bill/ bank statement with the corresponding address, i.e., addressing your official name and must be within 3 months from your latest test date.

    ILR English Language / Life in the UK exemption—Special Circumstances

    Additionally, applicants under the following special circumstances are also not required to satisfy the Knowledge of English language and life in the UK also known as KoLL requirements for the ILR applications:

    • Domestically abused victims.
    • Citizens of English speaking (Commonwealth) countries, including Gurkhas.
    • Applicants and their dependents under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) Judicial Review.
    • Widowers— spouses, unmarried/civil partners/same partners of British settled nationals in the UK.
    • Applicants under family visa routes, aged between 18-64, including Parents, grandparents, adult dependents and other dependent relatives of British citizens.
    • Applicants who are retired.
    • ILR applicants with refugee status or humanitarian protection.
    • ILR applicants with discretionary leaves.
    • ILR applicants ‘outside the immigration rules’ including widows, orphans, over-age dependents and Gurkhas, applying for ILR UK under discretionary arrangements.
    • ILR applicants who are stateless.

    Highly skilled professionals under Tier 2 (General) with a granted leave status, i.e. doctors, nurses/midwives, dentists.

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    What evidence should I provide If I am outside the UK longer than 180-days?

    Under exceptional cases, It is recommended for all the applicants to attach a document of evidence stating a sound reason for their absences. These could include the following:

    • Birth/death certificates
    • Medical certificates
    • Evidence of travel crisis about the delays in entry to the UK

    It is advised to keep a strong record of absences (period) spent outside the UK when applying for the ILR. The number of days can be counted backwards in the following ways: whichever is beneficial for the applicants:

    • From the date of ILR application
    • Any date up to 28 days after the application date or;
    • Date of decision

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    Does the 180-day limit apply to the settled workers?

    UK annual paid leaves for settled workers

    It is also mandatory to duly note for any applicant belonging to the ‘settled work/Employment Visa category’, the evidence (in the form of a letter) is required regarding the ‘paid annual leave’ must be ‘in line with UK annual paid leaves entitlement to settled workers’. For some, the employers provide the legislative paid annual leave of up to 5.6 weeks paid holiday each year which for those working 5 days a week is 28 days of paid leave. While for many, the employer’s contract offers 25-30 days paid leave per year (including National Bank Holidays), so it must clarify in the letter with the ILR application.

    As per immigration policy, to qualify for ILR status, any stays outside the UK during the ‘weekends or non-working period’ do not break the continuity of leave. However, these reasons must be stipulated clearly within your employment contract/ letter to be provided with the ILR application in case of absences from the UK during the minimum qualifying period to UK settlement. This will validate that any absences under the ’employment category’ are considered as normal working paid leaves and that it does not disturb the pattern of the minimum qualifying threshold (180- days limit).

    It is also important to understand that if the business no longer exists, any extended period of stay out of the UK is not permissible, and applicants shall lose the right to apply for the UK settlement status.

    What are the supporting documents for the Indefinite Leave to Remain application?

    Indefinite Leave to Remain application—Supporting documents.

    Generally, the following evidence must be provided for your Indefinite Leave to remain application:

    • valid passport or a travel document including the old passport provided it was valid during the time of your Residency in the UK during/ before the date of ILR application.
    • A Travel History if any, if you have immigrated to the UK in the past under any Visa category
    • A certified pass certificate of ‘Life in the UK’ test
    • A certified pass certificate of English Proficiency (B1 level as specified by the CEFR)
    • Adoption/birth certificates (if applicable)
    • police registration certificate, for those who are required to register with the police during their arrival in the UK
    • travel proof, confirming any time spent outside the UK during your residency period.
    • Financial information such as bank statements, etc.
    • Any other relevant documentation that would be relevant to your specific visa category
    • Immigration history

    How to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Spouse?

    Yes, you can! But only after completion of your 5 years under the Spouse visa category. Once you are granted Indefinite Leave to remain you can apply for your British citizenship.

    Applying for ILR with Spouse Visa
    For many (holders of Marriage Visa), the minimum qualifying period to be entitled to the ILR is a 5-year continuous period of Residency in the UK as a Spouse of a British citizen, and this category includes spouses/ civil partners mostly.

    At Axis Solicitors, our expert and knowledgeable team can assist you with your ILR application form and can help you at every step to ensure that the right set of evidence is provided as essential documentary proof. In addition to our services for assessing your eligibility to apply for the ILR, our accredited immigration Specialist can provide you with a detailed cover letter as a ‘supporting document’ to further boost your ILR application success rate.

    So, begin your exhilarating journey towards an Indefinite Leave to Remain status by reaching out to us on 0800 048 7573 or launch an online enquiry and find out about how we can better assist you to successfully secure an Indefinite Leave to Remain/ Permanent Residency in the UK.

    Need an Immigration advice?

    We can help clients across the UK. We service the work from our four offices
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Indefinite Leave to Remain Refusal

    As daunting and painstaking news it can be to get a refusal of Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can still secure your chances of getting a permanent residency in the UK regardless. Usually, your refusal letter states the reasons for this refusal. If the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain gets refused, the applicants can opt for any of these:

    • Fresh start the ILR application to rectify any mistakes/ missing information previously made
    • If you believe that the documents and information provided merit grant of your application, you can lodge a Pre-Action Protocol Claim
    • Appeal against the Home office decision if the refusal was unjust and you have proper grounds for an appeal.

    The current ILR UK application fee is approximately £2,389. There will be additional charges if you want to expedite the decision process of your ILR application which in general can take up to 6 months or so. These charges (for fast-track applications; part of the Super-priority services) may include an additional fee of around £500 (if processed within 5 working days) and £800 (if processed within 24-hours).

    Whilst an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is a penultimate step towards permanent residency/ settlement and ultimately, British Citizenship, ILR applicants are not ‘automatically granted’ British Citizenship once they qualify for Citizenship application. Therefore, the applicants can apply for British Citizenship only after having Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

    It is advisable always to seek legal help once you qualify for Citizenship. Our bespoken Legal Professionals can offer you quality services and affordable packages. We are only a call away, so do not hesitate to reach us on 0800 048 7573. With our finest legal services, we make sure that our clients successfully secure British Citizenship and ultimately enjoy the privileged life as any other UK citizen.

    As mentioned earlier, the qualifying period to be eligible for ILR varies by the type of immigration visa you are holding, and qualifying criteria are likely to be affected by any previous immigration category you may have held while staying in the UK. Likewise, if you have been convicted of a crime/ violated UKVI policies, your eligibility to apply for the ILR UK might be affected.

    After an ILR grant, you will be required to stay for at least 12-months, in general, to be eligible to apply for British Citizenship. Interestingly, in some cases, such as spouses with a Marriage Visa may apply for British naturalization right after receiving their Indefinite Leave to Remain application. Be sure that you check whether you are meeting the requirements per your visa category or not. After the naturalization, you can then apply for the British Passport.

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