Who is Eligible for UK Settled Status (ILR)?


ILR or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK is a settlement for overseas nationals. Qualified individuals should have spent a minimum of three years in the UK before applying for ILR; however, some cases allow applicants to apply after two or three years.

Different immigration visa types can lead to ILR, including skilled work, innovator, and spouse visas. The UK indefinite leave to remain allows qualified applicants to work and live in the UK unrestricted and is the best route to naturalisation and full citizenship.

How to apply for ILR

Requirements and eligibility for UK’s ILR application

Specific requirements for eligibility differ depending on the applicant’s circumstances and the type of visa they hold. The basic requirement is the applicant should have been legally residing in the UK for the required period. However, they should be able to fulfil other requirements too.

Applicants should:

  • Live lawfully in the UK for the specified period
  • Have no criminal record and zero breaches of UK’s immigration laws during the said period
  • Spend less than 180 days abroad in 12 months
  • Pass UK’s test on British history, culture, and traditions
  • Prove you meet the Common European Framework of Languages’ B1 level of English

ILR application exemptions

Other individuals don’t have to apply for ILR to achieve settled UK status. They include:

  • People automatically eligible for citizenship, including by descent
  • Child dependants of persons with settled status or British citizens
  • Adult dependants reliant on long-term family care from people with settled status or British citizens
  • Refugees that resettle in the UK using the Gateway Protection Program

Various routes to ILR UK

You can apply for ILR when you achieve the minimum time threshold for your visa; however, you’ll also have to meet other requirements. Visa routes that could lead to ILR include:

  • Unmarried partner visa
  • Spouse visa
  • The investor visa (Tier 1)
  • Global talent visa
  • Family visa
  • Start-up visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Skilled worker visa
  • Minister of Religion visa
  • Sportsperson visa
  • UK ancestry visa
  • Specialist or Senior Worker visa
  • Long residence
  • Retired person visa
  • Returning resident

You could become eligible for ILR using less traditional means that don’t require you to have a visa; however, not everybody can take this route.

Can you apply for an ILR visa UK after 5 years?

The legal period you must wait before applying for ILR depends on particular circumstances. Usually, oversea nationals can apply after lawfully residing in the UK for five years.

Visas that require participants to have legally lived in the UK for 5 years include:

  • Unmarried partner visa
  • Spouse visa
  • Family visa
  • Skilled worker visa
  • Long-term work visa
  • UK ancestry visa

Under these visas, people residing in the UK may be eligible to apply before the specified 5-year period.

  • Innovator visa: 3 years (depends on business achievements)
  • Global talent visa: 3 years (depends on whether they got the last endorsement under UK research and innovation fast track criteria, “exceptional promise,” or “exceptional talent” criteria.
  • Entrepreneur visa: 3 years (depends on business activities). However, it is no longer in operation.
  • Investor visa: 2 or 3 years (depends on business activities).

Additionally, commonwealth citizens can apply for ILR after legally living in the UK for 4 years if they served in the British Armed Forces. Some cases may take longer. For instance, individuals living in the UK under long residence should apply for ILR after 10 years if they are over 18 or 7 if they are under.

What should you know about the English Language test?

The B1 English language requirement tests your listening and speaking skills. Applicants are required to show certifications from approved test providers online or on paper. However, other individuals don’t have to fulfil this request, i.e., those that live in the commonwealth countries. Other applicants that are exempt from this requirement include:

  • Applicants aged 65 or over
  • People with a degree or higher qualification taught in English from an accredited educational establishment.
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • Individuals under humanitarian protection
  • Spouse or partner of a dead person with settled status or British citizen

Life in the UK test

This is also referred to as the British citizenship test and is based on Britain’s history, culture, and traditions. The test has 24 questions and runs for 45 minutes. The questions are generated randomly on the test day, and applicants must score at least 75%.

Applicants can take the test at one of the 30 accredited tests and must pay 50 pounds and provide a form of identification. Individuals under 18 and over 65 aren’t required to take the test, and those who fail can repeat after 7 days of each test until they pass and get a certificate.

Periods of absence

You should not spend more than 180 days out of the UK within 12 months preceding your application. However, there are some exceptions, including:

  • Conflict
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious illness (applicant or close family member)
  • Skilled work visa holders sponsored to work in Ph.D. level occupations
  • Absences taken by Global Talent Visa holders
  • Overseas work by particular HM armed force reserve members

Keep records of such periods and produce them with your application to ease the process.

Documents you should include in your ILR application.

You must include various originally issued supporting documents when applying for ILR, including those of your dependents. You’ll have to explain why if you don’t provide originally issued documents, you may get some leniency from the Home Office if your circumstances are exceptional.

Information and documents you’d normally present include:

  • Adoption or birth certificates
  • Travel and passport documents, including old passports valid during your time in the UK
  • Documents accounting for any time spent outside the UK during your residency
  • Documents supporting your immigration history
  • Police registration certificates from when your first arrived in the UK
  • Financial information, i.e., bank statements
  • Pass certificates proving your B1 level of English
  • Pass certificate for the Life in the UK test
  • Two identical photographs (passport-sized)

Type of ILR application form you should use

The two main forms used for indefinite leave to remain application are Form Set (M) and Form Set (O). Form set (M) should be completed when applying as a parent or partner of someone that’s already settled in the UK. All other applicants should use Form Set (O).

How long does the process take?

The process has no definite timescale; however, the standard time it takes is usually 6 months.

ILR application (Indefinite Leave to Remain UK) fee

Current fees for ILR are 2389 pounds, and dependents of applicants with families will be required to pay the same amount. You could expedite the service by paying 500 pounds for a 5-day quick decision or 800 pounds for one day.

What are your rights if you receive your ILR UK?

Holders that qualify for ILR can live in the UK without any restrictions. You’ll be eligible for free NHS healthcare and be able to work and study in the UK. However, you should note that The Home Office can revoke your ILR status if:

  • You got ILR as a refugee and aren’t currently classed as one.
  • If you are liable for deportation but can’t be deported because of legal reasons
  • If you leave the UK for more than 2 years

What to do if your ILR application is refused

You should check why your application was refused. It’s usually explained in the rejection letter. You should submit your application if you notice The Home Office has made an obvious mistake. You can also challenge the decision of the Home Office if you feel the rejection was unfair.

You can also choose an administration review from a different immigrational official if you believe they didn’t take a vital piece of evidence into account. You can also legally challenge the Home Office’s decision by lodging an official legal appeal.

Will you automatically receive British citizenship when your Indefinite Leave to Remain UK ends?

You won’t become a British citizen when your ILR ends; however, you can apply for British citizenship if you live in the UK for 12 months under ILR UK by completing and submitting an application for British citizenship by naturalisation.

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