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Indefinite Leave to Remain

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Indefinite Leave to Remain

Foreign nationals who have been residing in the UK  may apply to settle here if they meet the qualifying residency and eligibility criteria as applicable to them under their respective immigration routes. Individuals typically need to spend at least 5 years in the UK to apply for settlement,  although there are some accelerated provisions available for some routes.

Eligible visa routes to Settlement

The following are some of the common routes that lead to Settlement in the UK.

  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens were able to obtain a Biometric Residence Card confirming their rights of permanent residence under the EEA Regulations; however, following Brexit, they now may make an application for Settlement through the EU Settlement Scheme to obtain a Digital Immigration Status
  • Foreign nationals who have made significant investments in the UK may be eligible for Settlement via a shorter qualifying period of 3-years
  • Skilled Workers, Tier-1 Entrepreneur Visa holders and other migrant workers may be able to qualify for Settlement further completing a qualifying period of 5 years lawful & continuous residence in the UK
  • Spouse visa holders could also be eligible for Settlement upon the completion of 60 months lawful residence in the UK or 120 months for those qualifying under exceptional circumstances
  • Spouses of British Citizens who have been victims of domestic violence may also qualify for Settlement upon completion of a continuous period of residence in the UK
  • Foreign nationals who have resided in the UK under a series of different visa routes for an extended period between 10 - 20 years could apply for Settlement under the long residence route - private life claims included
Suitability and Eligibility Criteria

Each immigration route has different eligibility criteria to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.  However, there are basic requirements which are common to all applications. For example, Lawful & Continuous residence is a key criterion to be met for all settlement application. Although an individual's passport is often sufficient to evidence their immigration history, at times, the UKVI may require extensive evidence to assess an applicant's right to permanent residence. 

Having not accrued excessing absences from the UK is also an important eligibility requirement for a settlement application. The general rule for work-based settlement under 5-year route is that the absence should be less than 180 days in any 12 months periods during the qualifying period. In relation to Long Residence settlement, the total absence must be less than 540 days during the 10 year period, with no single absence of more than 180 days. It is also necessary for applicants to meet Language & Life in the UK criteria.

How can we assist?

Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting clients on Settlement under various routes and have dealt with many complicated cases of absences and those with discretionary reasons. We are a multi award-winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to providing clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

It is vital for a successful application to choose the correct online application form, paying the correct application fee and submitting all the mandatory documents requested by the UKVI. Failing to choose the right online form or provide all necessary information/documents may lead to an invalid or refused immigration matter. It is worth noting that UKVI fees are non-refundable when refused, and for this reason, seeking professional immigration advice could make a huge difference in an outcome. As part of an application process, it will be mandatory to submit biometric details at a Visa Application Centre. Supporting evidence can be either uploaded on designated websites or submitted in person at the time of biometrics appointment. It is also worth noting that ILR applications under SET(O) are eligible for Priority processing.

What is the difference between a Permanent Residence Document and Permanent Residence Status?

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals used to enjoy the right of permanent residence in the UK if they could evidence 5 years of continuous residence in the UK as a qualifying person. This could have been: a worker, job seeker, student, self-employed or self-sufficient person. Eligible individuals who made an application for a residence document were granted a 'Permanent residence document' equivalent to an ILR biometric residence permit. Since the EU Settlement Scheme introduction, permanent residence cards have been substituted by a Permanent residence status known as Settled Status. The main difference is that the latter is a digital registration number and no physical document attached to it.

What document can I submit with an Indefinite Leave to Remain application?

All applications for settlement in the UK require an applicant to submit evidence of their identity through a passport/national identity card; evidence of their lawfulness in the country through their valid leave to remain; evidence of their absences from the UK and evidence of meeting English language & knowledge of life in the UK requirements through original and valid pass test certificates.

Can I apply for Naturalization after obtaining an ILR?

In short, yes. Foreign nationals who have completed 12 months residence in the UK holding indefinite leave to remain are eligible to make an application for naturalization (provided that they meet all relevant requirements). The spouses of British citizens may immediately apply for naturalisation without the 12 months wait.

Is there an exemption for meeting Language & Life in the UK?

Applicants under the age of 18 or over 65, those suffering from long term illness, mental condition or disability that restricts them from preparing for the test are normally exempted.
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