Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK - NEW 2021 Guide
Are you looking for information
on the application process for obtaining an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in
the UK? If so, then you're probably dealing with a ton of questions and
confusion on the subject.
Join us in this quick guide as we
aim to shed some light on the matter.
What exactly is ILR
in the UK?
Simply put, ILR is an immigration
status that allows foreign nationals to legally live and work in the UK with no limitations (no time limit). They may
also leave and re-enter the UK without restriction (Indefinite Leave to Enter
the UK) as long as they return within two years.
Indefinite Leave to Remain is
different from Permanent Residency (PR) status, although both have the same
implications. PR is exclusive to EEA Nationals (EU citizens) and does not apply
to foreign nationals. That said, ILR is a big step forward among immigrants
looking to obtain British citizenship in the future.
What are the
benefits of having Indefinite Leave to Remain status in the UK?
Never again will you
have to reapply for an extension or permission to live and work in the UK. You
can continue to do so for as long as you want.
The right to apply
for citizenship and obtain a British passport after 12 months of your ILR
You can apply or
switch to any job as long as you're qualified.
The right to collect
state benefits — pension, child care cost, unemployment benefits, etc.
You become more
attractive to creditors and get access to low-interest rates for just about any
type of loan.
To obtain ILR
status, you’ll need to prove the following:
You've lawfully and
continuously resided in the UK for the qualifying period stipulated in your
visa. This can vary depending on your settlement route (more on that later).
You've not been away
from the UK for more than 180 days in any given year that's included in your
You are proficient
in English and must have obtained at least a B1 level (intermediate)
certificate from an accredited English language test.
knowledge of British history, culture and customs in the UK by passing what is
known as the "Life in the UK" test.
Your application is
not subject to general grounds for refusal — criminal convictions, unpaid taxes
or any violation to one's immigration status. This can be seen as proof that
you're a law-abiding citizen.
that you can be exempted from taking an English language proficiency test if
you already possess an English degree or hail from any of the following
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Vincent &
Trinidad and Tobago
St. Kitts and Nevis
for the specific ILR qualifying period, that can vary depending on your visa type/immigration
Commonwealth citizens with a UK Ancestry Visa
Married to a British citizen
You hold a Family Visa
Married to an EU National
5 years (EEA route)
Fiance Visa (unmarried)
You are a Tier 1 Entrepreneur
3 to 5 years depending on level of economic activity
You hold a Tier1 Exceptional Talent Visa
5 Years under Exceptional Promise Criteria. It can be shortened to 3
years if you are endorsed as having exceptional talent in your field.
You are a Tier 1 Investor
2 to 5 years depending on the amount of investment
You hold a Tier 2 General Visa
5 years under immigration route. Also, the applicant must meet minimum
income requirements ( £36,200 as of 2020 and subject to increase every year).
Long Residence Stay
Accumulated 10 years of lawful and continuous stay in the UK using any
combination of visas
You hold a Retired Person Visa
You are a Turkish worker or businessperson
You are a Returning Resident
You can apply immediately upon returning to the UK. This is provided
that you’ve obtained settlement status before leaving and have not been
outside the country for more than 3 years.
You hold a PBS Dependant visa
Note that the categories
mentioned above are far from exhaustive. Qualifying periods and conditions can
vary depending on your specific situation. Likewise, there are specific visa
categories that are not eligible for ILR. This includes Visitor visas, Students
/Tier 4, Tier 2 Intra-Company transfers and Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa.
Keep in mind that any attempt to
deceive the Home Office with regards to one's ILR qualifications can result in
disciplinary action or worse — being tagged as "undesirable" as stipulated
on the rules for Indefinite Leave to Remain for the UK.
What documents do
you need to submit to apply for ILR?
specific documents needed to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status will
depend on your settlement/immigration route. You can log on to theGOV.UK website and it'll walk you through the different
settlement routes/categories as well as document requirements that are specific
to your situation.
of the documents that are universal across most settlement routes include the
immigration status — the letter sent by the Home Office following approval of
your visa application/extension.
ILR application form
which you can get through the GOV.UK site. Note that you must use the correct
form specific to your situation and that all information must be filled out
documents supporting your application form which can also be downloaded through
the GOV.UK website. These documents allow the government to perform validation
checks on all documents you've submitted as part of your ILR application.
Passport and travel
documents that you've used to enter and remain in the UK during your qualifying
years (including dependents).
time spent away from the UK within the qualifying period (both business and
personal). This can take much time, so it is recommended that applicants create
and update a record of their overseas travels every year.
Pass the Life in the
UK test by answering at least 18 out of the 24 questions correctly. The Home
Office will automatically add this to your record, so there's no need to submit
the certification. Still, it is important that you complete the exam well before
your ILR appointment.
Letter from NARIC
(National Academic Recognition Information Centre) stating that you've met the
English proficiency and educational requirements necessary for your IRL.
you've passed both the English language requirement and the Life in the UK
If you hold a Tier 2
visa, then you must submit the latest payslip from your employer along with
your bank statement (where the salary is being credited to). Both documents
must be dated within 30 days of your ILR appointment and prove that the
applicant meets the minimum income requirements.
the documents mentioned above are not exhaustive, and other documents may be
required to support your ILR application.
example, Tier 2 visa holders must also submit supporting documents from their
sponsors (employers. This document must state that they are still needed in
their job and their current salary.
Things You Must Know
and Prepare for Before Starting your ILR Application
things first — you need to make sure that you have everything that you need to
prove that you're eligible for ILR. That includes proving your English
proficiency (unless exempted) and passing the Life in the UK test.
can start applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain 28 days before the end of
your qualifying period. However, it's always a good idea to start preparing for
the process well in advance. This will give you time to prepare and check all
the documents needed to support your application. Note that non-English
documents will all need to be translated before your appointment.
has launched a new service (Beta) for starting ILR applications online. Note
that the process also starts your application for a BRP (Biometric Residence
Permit) and gives you a checklist of required documents that you'll need to
upload later on.
will be able to book their appointment in advance, but only up to 28 days. This
is why you need to wait 28 days before the end of your qualifying period to
start applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
(UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services) — the official partner of UK
Visas & Immigration) recommend booking an appointment within five days of
your application. Applicants will be notified if they've failed to do so after
procedure — how does it work?
One thing that you need to know
is that you don't have to submit any physical documents to the Home Office.
Only soft copies are required which you'll need to upload via a third party
The following steps should give
you an idea on how to begin and proceed with your ILR application process:
before you start your ILR application, you should be no more than 28 days
away from the end of your qualifying period. This is important, or else
your ILR will likely be refused. Click here to go to the page on the UK.GOV site
where you can start your ILR application — Apply to Settle in the UK -
certain categories only.
Scroll to the
bottom of the page and click on the “Apply Now” button.
will be asked whether you want to start a new application.
“Start a New Application” to proceed.
here, you can start filling out the information for your ILR application.
entire process which includes confirming your location (you need to be in the
UK to start your application), filling out your personal information,
downloading your declaration documents and your payment for the application.
under “Documents” will outline the documents that you’ll need to submit to
support your ILR application. This will be your checklist so you’d want to take
note of the documents indicated in the section.
you reach the end of the process under “Further Actions”, you will be
asked to book an appointment.
the “Book Appointment” button will take you to the UKVCAS website which is
where you’ll be able to upload soft copies of your documents and book an
appointment for your biometrics.
How much can you
expect to pay for an ILR application?
Truth be told, the cost of
applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK isn't cheap. The basic
application alone cost £2,389. That's the amount the Home Office charges for
processing ILR applications. Note that this does not include the fees that you
need to pay to obtain and prepare your documents or the cost of your biometric
Once you book your BRP
appointment, you will be presented with two options — the standard process and
priority option. There are no additional fees if you choose the standard route.
The only caveat is that the process takes six months, and during that time,
you're not allowed to leave the UK for any reason.
Choosing the priority route will
cost you an additional £800. In return, the Home Office will process your
application within five working days. You can get a decision regarding your ILR
application in as early as two weeks.
As stipulated earlier in this
guide, an application for BRP is part of applying for ILR. This means attending
a biometric appointment at a UKVCAS service point. From there, your identity
will be confirmed, and you'll be able to enrol your biometric information
(photos, fingerprints, and signature specimens).
So how do you book
your biometric appointment?
this point, you should be done with your ILR application on the UK.GOV
site. Next, you’ll be redirected to the UKVCAS website to book an
appointment for your biometrics.
thing you’ll notice is that you’ll be asked to get your access code. You can
obtain this code from your email address (the one you’ve indicated in your ILR
application). Keep in mind that you’ll only have 30 minutes to input this code
so make sure you’re ready and that you’re not engaged with anything else. Click
on “Email my access code” to proceed.
in your access code and create a password for your UKVCAS account.
Click on “Set
this point, you’ve now created your UKVCAS account. The website may prompt
you to login with your username (email address) and password. This will
take you to the homepage which should look something like this:
to the bottom of the UKVCAS homepage and click on “Book an appointment”
the next step, you will need to choose a service point location. You can
search by postcode or select the service points indicated on the map.
the map, you can review information on available service points in your
area. You should of course, choose the one that’s closest and most
convenient for you.
Decide on a
service point, then click on “Select this service point” to proceed.
next step will take you to the appointment page. Choose a date and time
that you’re happy with then click on “Reserve appointment”. Notice how the
fees vary depending on the schedule (from £50 to £100). There are also
free appointments that you can take advantage of if your schedule is
on “Check Out” and pay for your biometric appointment (if not free).
this point, you’ve now reserved a schedule and paid for your biometric
appointment. You will automatically be redirected to a page where you can
upload the necessary documents for your ILR application.
You can upload
soft copies of your documents all at once or do it in stages. You can always go
back to your UKVCAS account at a later time. The important thing is that you
get it done before your appointment.
You’ll also want to check your email
address for a booking confirmation. It is recommended that you print it out as
it contains a QR code that you can use to track and verify your appointment.
On a final note, make sure that
you show up to your appointment on time. Ideally, you’d want to leave a few
hours early just to ensure that you’ll have time to sort out any last-minute
problems. When you’re satisfied with the information, UKVCAS will send your
application to the Home Office (UKVI) for a decision.
Once you’re done with your
biometric appointment, all that is left to do is wait. Again, you cannot leave
the UK until you receive a decision on your ILR application. Doing so will
prompt the Home Office to tag your application as “withdrawn” which means that
you’ll have to start over.
Some Useful Tips for
your ILR Application
Prepare early. It
takes time to complete all of the documents you need for an ILR application.
It's not unusual for applicants to start their preparations as early as two
years before the end of their qualifying period. After all, simply documenting
all your travels for the past 2 to 5 years is sure to take up much of your
The rule of thumb
when it comes to submitting documents is that more is always better. This means
that you don't just provide the documents that the Home Office is asking for.
Submit as many documents as you want for as long as it'll help make a strong
case for getting your application approved.
Many people make the
mistake of underestimating the amount of time it takes to upload soft copies of
their documents to the UKVCAS portal. That website can be very specific when it
comes to the type and size of the document you're uploading. If a soft copy of
the document is refused, you may end up having to resize it or convert it to
another format. Either way, this can take time, so it would be wise to take
this into account.
Bring hard copies of
all your documents during your appointment. Bring anything that you feel is
relevant. You'll never know if you might need them. For example, there might be
problems with the quality of the document you've uploaded. In this case, you
can show them the physical copy and have it scanned then re-uploaded to the
Answers to Frequently-asked questions about ILR
How long does Indefinite Leave to Remain
granted, ILR in the UK does not expire. This means that you're permanently free
of immigration-related restrictions for as long as you abide by the rules.
Can I lose my ILR status?
you can. The Home Office revokes the ILR status of immigrants who spend more
than two years outside the UK. The same is true for immigrants who commit a
deportable criminal offence or for national security reasons.
Can I apply for British citizenship
straight after getting my ILR?
you can't. You will need to wait 12 months before applying.
How much does it cost to apply for ILR?
(since April 6, 2018) + £800 if you choose priority application
My ILR application was refused, can I
appeal the decision?
you can, but you should first address the reason for the refusal. If it's a
minor error in one of the forms/documents, then it's better to resubmit your
the reason behind the refusal is much more serious, then you can request an
administrative or judicial review. In any case, an appeal must be made within
14 days of the refusal.
What are the common reasons for ILR
of the common reasons why the Home Office might refuse an ILR application
includes missing/insufficient documents, inability to meet minimum income
requirements, not paying the right taxes, and criminal activity.