Indefinite Leave To Remain UK (ILR UK)

Updated: 28 March 2023

The UK offers a wealth of opportunities in terms of career and family life. Many people come to the UK with the end goal of living in the country and getting indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to make the UK their permanent home. 

It might be difficult to figure out what exactly an indefinite leave to remain means. In this article, we’re going to explain what ILR is and how you can qualify for one. We’ve also added the required documents, and information on the application process.

What You’ll Find in This Article

What Is Indefinite Leave To Remain 

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which is also known as “Permanent Residence”, is for foreign nationals who are granted indefinite leave to live in the UK. An ILR provides you with permanent residency status in the UK. 

It’s the first step for a foreigner who is in the country on a visa and wants to become a British citizen through naturalization. It also allows foreign nationals to work without restriction in the UK. 

In most cases, you’re required to have lived in the UK for at least five years before qualifying for indefinite leave to remain. In some cases, you can qualify after three or even two years.

Who Is Eligible to Apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain UK

Your eligibility for indefinite leave to remain is determined by the category under which you’re applying. For example, if you’ve lawfully resided in the UK for 10 years, you can be eligible for ILR. Time spent working or living in the UK with family can also count towards ILR eligibility. Most ILR routes have a minimum residency requirement; for example, to apply for ILR on the basis of a spousal visa, you must have been living in the UK for five years, in addition to completing the other conditions.

You can be eligible for indefinite leave to remain if:

  • You currently hold a working visa under the old or new points-based system (PBS)
  • You currently hold a dependent visa or a family visa
  • You’re a long-term resident of the UK

Routes to ILR UK

Living in the UK under the form of a settlement visa might make you eligible for indefinite leave to remain after you’ve completed the minimum stay requirement for your visa type.

We’ve listed below some visas that can lead to ilr:

  • Family Visa
  • Global Talent Visa
  • Investor Visa (Tier 1)
  • Innovator Visa
  • Intra-Company Transfer Visa
  • Long residence
  • Minister of Religion Visa (T2)
  • Retired Person Visa
  • Returning resident
  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Sportsperson Visa (T2)
  • Spouse Visa
  • Startup Visa
  • Unmarried Partner Visa
  • UK Ancestry Visa

Benefits of Indefinite Leave To Remain Status

Indefinite leave to remain not only allows you to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration controls, but it also has a number of other advantages, such as access to public funds and free healthcare. It also serves as a route to British citizenship and allows you to bring family members to the UK.

Here are some highlights of having ilr status:

  • Opportunity to advance your status in the country 
  • Freely work in the UK without restrictions 
  • Extension of indefinite leave to remain in the UK to your spouse and children
  • Access to health care and public funds 

Requirements for UK Indefinite Leave To Remain

As per the indefinite leave to remain UK rules, the general requirements are as follows:

  • You’ve been lawfully living in the UK for a certain period of time
  • You can prove your English language proficiency with an accepted English language degree or pass an accredited English language test 
  • You’ve not breached any of the immigration laws during your stay in the UK and you have no criminal record
  • You’ve passed the “Life in the UK” test, which is a test based on British culture, history, and traditions
  • You’re able to prove your English proficiency

If your stay in the UK is under a category that qualifies for indefinite leave to remain after five years, you can make an application after you complete the five-year residence period.

Some routes may allow for a shorter qualifying term, such as Investor Visa UK. With this type, you can be eligible for ILR only after two years if you make the qualifying investment.

If you’re going to apply for ILR UK on the basis of “Long Residence” your lawful residence in the country should be 10 years (accumulated).

Note that if you live outside the UK for more than two years, your ILR status may be canceled.

Periods of Absence

The general requirement for ilr eligibility is that you’ve not spent more than 180 days outside the United Kingdom in a 12-month period.

There are several exceptions to this regulation, such as if you were away from the UK on business or due to unforeseen circumstances. If you think you’ll need to travel out of the country on a frequent basis, it’s going to be useful to discuss your situation with your legal advisor beforehand.

English Language Requirements for ILR UK

When you’re making your ILR application, you’ll be required to prove that you meet the English language requirement. The minimum level is B1, in both speaking and listening. For this, you can get a language certificate from an approved provider.

The citizens of some English-speaking countries are “usually” exempt from the language requirement. These countries include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Canada
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

In addition, you’ll not be required to meet the English language requirement if:

  • You’re over the age of 65
  • You hold a degree from an accredited educational institution where you were taught English
  • You’re under humanitarian protection
  • You’re a victim of domestic abuse
  • Your deceased partner/spouse was a British citizen or had settled status

Life in the UK Test

The Life in the UK test is a key necessity of the ilr uk application. This test is centered on British culture, history, and traditions. There are 24 randomly generated questions that you’ll be expected to answer in 45 minutes. The minimum score you need to get is 75 percent to pass the test.

The fee for the test is £50. If you fail the test, you can retake it after seven days. Those aged 18 and under, as well as those aged 65 and up, will not be required to take the test.

Also, if someone obtains a doctor’s written certification of a long-term physical or mental condition, they are usually exempted from the exam.

List of Documents for UK Indefinite Leave To Remain Application

When filing for ILR, you will need to present the following documents in general. Note that we’ve listed the documents for illustrative purposes and exact documentation might differ depending on your current visa type.

In general, you’ll need to present the following:

  • Passport
  • Visa for evidence of your current leave to remain
  • Proof of previous absences from the UK
  • Payslips from your employer, ensuring you meet the minimum income requirements (if applicable)
  • English language level certificate
  • Life in the UK test results
  • Photos

How To Apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain UK

The UK indefinite leave to remain applications are completed online. You may choose the form based on your immigration category. 

The two most common forms that are used for ILR applications are Form Set (O) and Form Set (M). If you’re applying as a partner of someone, or if you’re the parent of a child who has “settled” status in the UK, you’ll need to fill in the Form Set (M).

For all other ILR applications, you can use the Form Set (O) and Form Set (LR).

Things You Can Do If Your Application for Indefinite Leave To Remain Is Refused

First, you need to understand why your application was turned down. In the refusal letter, the grounds for the refusal will be outlined. If an application has an obvious error, the best solution is to resubmit the application with the errors corrected.

However, if you believe your application was wrongfully denied, appealing the decision is another option.

Refusal of an application can be quite upsetting. This is why working with a  team of legal advisors is important as they will assist you throughout the entire procedure.

Indefinite Leave To Remain UK Application Cost

Leave to remain UK application fee is £2,389, excluding the mandatory £19.20 biometric enrolment fees. Super priority processing (24 hours) may cost an additional £800 and £500 for priority processing (five days).

How Long Does the Process of UK Indefinite Leave to Remain Application Take

The leave to remain UK application service may take up to six months. You may pay additional fees for priority processing.

Biometric Residence Permit With ILR UK

As a part of the indefinite leave to remain application process, biometrics enrollment is required. When your ILR is approved, a biometric residence permit (BRP) will be issued for you.

Your BRP will serve to confirm your identity and your right to study, work, or rent property in the UK. Your BRP also confirms your right to any public services you’re entitled to.

Your biometric residence permit will be valid for 10 years and you’re eligible to renew it when it expires unless your ILR is revoked or you acquire British citizenship.

From ILR to British Citizenship

After 12 months of getting your indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you might be eligible for British citizenship application. Once your naturalization has been completed, you can apply to get your British passport.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a way to live in the UK permanently, getting your indefinite leave to remain will be very beneficial. It’ll give you the right to live, work, and study in the country along with many other benefits.

If you want your ILR application to be a smooth one, it’s crucial to work with professionals who will guide you and make sure everything is handled carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is indefinite leave to remain?

Indefinite leave to remain is a permanent residence status that allows you to live in the UK.

What are UK ILR rules?

UK ILR rules consist of a set of requirements such as stay requirement, English proficiency, and Life in the UK test. Indefinite leave to remain UK rules and stay requirements will differ depending on the visa type under which you’re currently staying in the country.

Do I need to get indefinite leave to enter the UK?

ILR is a permanent residency status and you don’t need indefinite leave to enter the UK for travel purposes. ILR is granted to eligible visa holders depending on their status.

What is ILR?
ILR is the abbreviation that is used for indefinite leave to remain. 

What does indefinite leave to remain mean?

What is an indefinite leave to remain or what is ILR are common questions foreigners ask. Indefinite leave to remain is a permanent residency status that gives you the right to live in the UK permanently. It’s also a route to British citizenship.

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