Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements

To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), applicants must first be present in the UK for a specified period, usually on a temporary visa of some type. Please see the table below for a breakdown of how long you must have been in the UK on various visas before being eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residency (PR) is an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK), but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study, without restriction. When indefinite leave is granted to persons outside the United Kingdom it is known as indefinite leave to enter (ILE).

Current visa status and length of time required before being eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):

Visa Status Years of residence required
Marriage 5
Unmarried Partner 5
EEA Family Permit 5
Ancestry 5
Work Permit 5
HSMP 5
People establishing business 5
Investors 5
Writers, composers, artists 5
Legal stay on any basis 10
Illegal stay on any basis 20

Contact Us for Assistance

If you would like to discuss eligiblity for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) then please feel free to get in touch with us. We can offer a range of services to assist you, from an application checking service to full advice and application preparation for submission by post or using the Same-Day Service at the Public Enquiry Office (PEO). Call ICS Legal on 0207 237 3388 or complete our contact form for us to assess your immigration category or give you some advice on how to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

What is the term settled status used in the context of British Nationality Law

Settled status is central to British nationality law, as the most usual route to naturalisation or registration as a British citizen requires that the applicant be settled in the UK. Settled status is also important where a child of non-British citizen parents is born in the UK, as unless at least one parent has settled status the child will not automatically be a British citizen.

The requirements of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

  1. A child (including an adopted child) aged under 18 who holds leave to enter or remain with a view to settlement with a parent, parents or a relative who is a settled person and resident in the UK can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  2. A parent, grandparent or other dependant relative aged 18 or over of a person who is a settled person and resident in the UK can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  3. A person satisfying all of the below criteria can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), where they was given permission to come to the UK for up to 27 months or to extend his/her stay for two years as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner of a permanent resident (even if that permission is no longer valid), was still in that relationship at the time he/she came to the UK or extended your stay as their husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner and can produce evidence that the relationship has broken down permanently since then as a result of domestic violence.
  4. A person who has lived in the UK for 2 or 5 years with temporary permission to remain in the UK as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a British citizen or a settled person and who intends to continue living together (and are still married or in a civil partnership, if applicable) can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  5. A person who has lived in the UK for 4 years with a visa issued under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) and Employment Not Requiring Work Permit before 3 April 2006 can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The last date to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) will be the 5th of April 2018.
  6. A person who has lived in the UK for 5 years with a visa issued in one of the following categories can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the points-based system (excluding the Post-study work category of Tier work permit, businessperson, innovator, investor, representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, private servant in a diplomatic household, domestic worker in a private household, overseas government employee, minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order, airport-based operational staff of an overseas-owned airline, self-employed lawyer, writer, composer or artist, UK ancestry and highly skilled migrant under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).
  7. A person who has lived in the UK for 5 years with a visa issued in one of the following categories can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): retired person of independent means and sole representative of an overseas firm.
  8. A person who has been granted humanitarian protection since 30 August 2005 and whose current 5-year permission to stay is due to expire can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  9. A person who has lived in the UK for 5 years under the Gateway Protection Programme can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  10. A person who has lived in the UK for 6 years with Discretionary Leave can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  11. 10 years’ residence. A person who has lived in the UK for 10 years continuously can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as long as all time spent in the UK during the 10 years has been lawful (although discretion can be exercised to disregard one single gap in lawful residence of no more than 28 calendar days, or of more than 28 calendar days in exceptional circumstances).
  12. A person aged under 18 who has lived in the UK for 17 years continuously (lawfully or unlawfully) can apply for leave to remain on the grounds of private life. After living in the UK for a further 10 years (holding leave to remain on the grounds of private life during this period), he/she can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  13. A person aged between 18 and 25 who has lived in the UK for at least half of his/her life (lawfully or unlawfully) can apply for leave to remain on the grounds of private life. After living in the UK for a further 10 years (holding leave to remain on the grounds of private life during this period), he/she can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  14. A person who has lived in the UK for 20 years continuously (lawfully or unlawfully) can apply for leave to remain on the grounds of private life. After living in the UK for a further 10 years (holding leave to remain on the grounds of private life during this period), he/she can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  15. Alternatively, a person who has lived in the UK for less than 20 years continuously (lawfully or unlawfully) but has no ties (including social, cultural or family) with his/her country of origin can apply for leave to remain on the grounds of private life. After living in the UK for a further 10 years (holding leave to remain on the grounds of private life during this period), he/she can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  16. UK Visas and Immigration has discretion to grant Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) outside the Immigration Rules either where someone qualifies under one of the immigration policy concessions or for reasons that are particularly compelling in circumstance and it is almost certain that there will be no change in circumstances within five years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain removes any immigration based restrictions in the UK.

Absence requirements

During the qualifying period you should generally aim to not be outside the UK for more than 90 days during the final 12-month period and no more than 180 days in any consecutive 12-month period prior to application. There are exceptions to this general rule and these exceptions can relate to time outside the UK that is directly related to your UK employment. Some specific situations and visa types will allow for longer periods outside the UK.

Economic Activity

In addition to the above requirements, there are further requirements that will depend on the visa status that you hold at the time of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Those holding Tier 1 General visa status will be required to demonstrate that they meet a points threshold that is similar to the extension requirements for their visa.

Those holding Tier 2 Visa status (work permits) will be required to demonstrate that they have earned no less than the level of salary that was stated on their most recent Tier 2 Visa application.

Other Requirements

All applicants, other than those covered by the HSMP Judicial Review, will also have to pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test AND a recognised English language test (except for certain English-speaking nationalities and those who have a degree taught in English). In addition you will have to be free of any unspent convictions under the Criminality section.

After one year of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) also known as Permanent Residence you can apply for British Citizenship.

Conditions of Stay for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

It is important to realise that this visa grants Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This means that your visa can be revoked if you are outside the UK for a lengthy period where it might appear that the UK is no longer your primary residence. It is therefore strongly recommended that you do not stay outside the UK for more than 2 years and you should ideally apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen as soon as you are able to do so.

How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) made by post can take up to 6 months to be decided and you will be without your passport for this time. If your case is urgent or you simply do not wish to be without your passport for this length of time then you can book an appointment for a same-day decision. The waiting time for an appointment is usually between 4 to 6 weeks. Complete our visa assessment form, by clicking here, where we will check whether you meet the ILR requirements and when we can secure your appointment. 

Same-Day Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) – click here to check how our same day service works
If you need your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application decided urgently then we can offer a same-day service. An appointment is usually available for the next week, although places are limited, and the decision is usually granted on the day of the appointment. We can also attend the appointment with you if required – we do not use couriers to do this. If you use our document check service or engage us for full representation of your case then a discount is offered on the fee for this additional service. Call us today on 0207 237 3388 or complete our contact form, by clicking here.