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A Guide to the UK’s Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Application Process

27 December 2023
A Guide to the UK’s Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Application Process

The process of obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain is a significant milestone for those seeking long-term residency in the UK. It is a distinctive immigration status that bridges the gap between temporary visas and citizenship, providing a stable foundation.

What is Indefinite Leave of Remain(ILR)?

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR), often referred to as “settlement,” is the legal status granted to foreign nationals who have established a firm connection to the UK. ILR confers upon the holder the right to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely, as well as access to public funds and the ability to apply for British citizenship.

Five-year ILR route

The most common way to be eligible for ILR involves maintaining lawful status and residency in the UK for five years. After completing five years, the following visas allow individuals to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):

  • The Skilled Worker visa and two other Tier 2 visas: the Minister of Religion visa and the Sportsperson visa.
  • Business visas that include the Turkish Worker or Businessperson Visa
  • Global Talent Visa (in some cases)
  • Scale up visa
  • Innovator Visa and Innovator Founder visa
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
  • Family members include spouse, parents, children, and dependent adults
  • Tier 5 (International Agreement) visa
  • Ancestry visa

For certain visas, like the Skilled Worker and Tier 2 visas, time spent in the UK on various visa types can be combined to meet the five-year residency requirement.

The processing time for five-year ILR applications typically ranges from six to eight months. However, the Home Office may request additional information or documentation, which may extend the processing timeline.

Ten-year ILR route

The ten-year ILR route, also known as the long residence route, is another way to obtain indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK. It is for individuals who have established a long-term connection to the UK through continuous lawful residence, regardless of their specific visa category.

ILR after 2 or 3 years

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after 2 or 3 years is an accelerated way to obtain ILR in the UK. It is available to a limited number of visa categories that are considered to be of high value to the UK economy or society.

Individuals who have lived in the UK for two years for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and three years for the other eligible visa categories.

The following visa categories are eligible for ILR after 2 or 3 years:

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur): Entrepreneurs who have invested a significant amount of money in the UK and have created jobs and economic growth.
  • Tier 1 (Investor): Investors who have invested a substantial amount of money in the UK and have supported the UK economy may apply in the following ways:
  1. 2 years: £10,000,000
  2. 3 years: £5,000,000
  3. 5 years: £2,000,000
  • Innovator Visa: Individuals who have established an innovative business in the UK with the potential to create significant economic growth.
  • Global Talent Visa: Highly skilled and talented individuals recognised in their field and can contribute to the UK’s scientific, technological, or cultural success.

Eligibility Criteria for ILR

  • Residency Requirement: After living in the UK for the required period of five to ten years, depending on the route of entry, an applicant may be eligible to apply for ILR
  • Good Character: Maintaining good character throughout the stay in the UK, demonstrating a commitment to abiding by UK laws and regulations.
  • Life in the UK Test: Passing the Life in the UK test, which assesses an applicant’s knowledge of British life, history, and culture.
  • English Language Requirement: Providing proof of English language proficiency at a specified level, typically B1, B2, C1, or C2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
  • Absence Restrictions: During the qualifying period, the individual must not have been outside of the UK for more than 180 days per year.

Determining Your Continuous Period of Residence

The continuous period requirement dictates the minimum time you must have spent either employed or actively engaged in the UK economy to qualify for ILR. It involves meticulously calculating your absences from the UK to ensure you have met the specified timeframe.


During the qualifying period, you must have maintained valid permission to stay in the UK. This means holding a valid visa or other forms of authorised leave throughout the relevant period.

To determine the applicable qualifying period, work backward from the date most advantageous to you, which could be:

  • The date of application
  • The date of the decision
  • Any date up to 28 days after the date of application

For all absences, you must provide detailed explanations and supporting evidence. However, certain absences are not considered as “breaking” continuity and will not impact your continuous period or reset the clock:

  • The period between the issuance of your entry clearance and your actual entry into the UK
  • Part-day absences: Only full 24-hour absences from the country are counted.

Demonstrating Financial Eligibility: Meeting the Minimum Income Requirement

In addition to the continuous period requirement, ILR applicants may need to satisfy a minimum income requirement, depending on their current visa status. For instance, Skilled Worker visa holders seeking ILR must demonstrate that their annual salary meets or exceeds the higher of:

  • £25,600 per year
  • £10.10 per hour
  • The prevailing market rate for the role they hold

The above is subject to change.

Verifying Income: Providing Evidence of Earnings

To establish financial eligibility, applicants must provide documented proof of their earnings, such as:

  • P60 tax forms
  • Payslips
  • Self-assessment tax returns
  • Bank statements

IRL Application Process

  1. Gather Supporting Documents: Collect all necessary and supporting documents, including passport, visa, proof of residency, employment records, evidence of English language proficiency, and any other relevant documentation.
  2. Complete Online Application Form: Fill out the online ILR application form accurately and provide detailed responses to all questions.
  3. Biometric Enrolment: Attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide fingerprints and a photograph for biometric verification.
  4. Application Fee Payment: Pay the applicable ILR application fee, which is currently £2,885 for each person applying.

Required Supporting Documents for ILR

The specific supporting documents required for ILR applications may vary depending on the individual’s circumstances and visa route. However, some documents include:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Biometric residence permit (BRP) or other relevant visa documents
  • Proof of residency in the UK, such as utility bills, bank statements, or council tax bills
  • Employment records, such as P60 tax forms, payslips, or employment contracts
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, such as a Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate
  • Evidence of good character, such as letters of recommendation or police certificate。

Cost of UK ILR

The cost of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK is currently £2,885 per person. This fee applies to all applicants, regardless of their visa route or nationality.

In addition to the application fee, there are additional costs associated with gathering supporting documents, such as translation fees or document certification fees.

Here is a breakdown of the costs involved in applying for ILR:

  • Application fee: £2,885
  • Translation fees: £20-50 per document approximately
  • Document certification fees: £10-20 per document approximately

The total cost of applying for ILR can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances. However, applicants can expect to pay between £2,900 and £3,000 in total.

It is important to note that the ILR application fee is non-refundable, even if the application is unsuccessful. Therefore, it is crucial for applicants to carefully review the eligibility criteria and ensure they meet all requirements before submitting their application.

When can applicants apply for ILR?

Applicants can submit a settlement application up to 28 days before they would reach the end of the specified period.

How can we help?

Applying for ILR can be confusing and may be time consuming. Our experienced immigration solicitors at Davenport Solicitors can make the process easier for you. We provide assistance tailored to your requirements, help you gather documents, ensure your application form has been completed correctly, and represent you throughout the process, making it easier and less stressful for you.

Contact us today at contact@davenportsolicitors.com or +44 020 7903 6888  to take the first step towards your Indefinite Leave of Remain in the UK. 

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