Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also commonly known as permanent residency or settlement, is a permission to live in the UK permanently without time restriction. Individuals with ILR can live, work, study in the UK without restrictions, as well the national health service (NHS), similar to British citizens.

ILR is usually granted to individuals after they have lived in the UK lawfully and continuously for a qualifying period. The length of qualifying continuous residence required varies from 2 years to 10 years (most commonly is 5 years), depending on the immigration routes. Individuals must also meet other route specific requirements. Please refer to specific routes on our website for more details.

General requirements for ILR

Continuous Residence

ILR after 5 years

For most immigration routes, applicants must have lived continuously in the UK for 5 years. These routes include:

  • Skilled Worker visa or Tier 2 (General)
  • T2 Minister of Religion or Tier 2 (Minister of Religion visa) 
  • International Sportsperson or Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Turkish Worker or Businessperson Visa
  • Global Talent Visa
  • Scale-up visa
  • Innovator Founder Visa
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
  • Tier 1 Investor
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Ancestry visa
  • Dependants of above visa holders when or after main applicants acquire ILR
  • Visa under Hong Kong BN(O) route
  • Family visa

Calculation of continuous residence

Applicants must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month unless exceptions apply. Applicants can choose a start date that is the most beneficial to them and count backward from:

(a) the date of application; or

(b) any date up to 28 days after the date of application; or

(c) the date of decision

For family visas, the Immigration Rules do not specify minimum number of days for residence. Instead, the Home Office will consider whether the applicant has in fact been living with their family in the UK and wishes to make the UK their home. The applicant and/or their family can spend time outside the UK if there is a good reason, for example, holidays, work, study or family visits. They must however have continuing intention to live together permanently in the UK.

ILR after 2 or 3 years

ILR based on shorter qualifying continuous residence is available to certain routes when the applicants are considered to have made significant contribution to the UK economy or society. These routes include:

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Global Talent Visa

Please refer to the specific routes for more details.

ILR after 10 years

Long residence:

ILR under long residence is for individuals who have been lawfully and continuously living in the UK for 10 years. They can have been staying with different visas or permissions to stay during the 10-year period, except for Visitor, Short-term Student (English language) or Temporary work – Seasonal Worker.

The applicants must not have been absent for more than 548 days (18 months) in total or 184 days (6 months) at any one time during the qualifying 10-year period unless exceptions apply. It means that on average the applicant should not spend over 54 days outside the UK each year.

Family settlement 10-year route:

Family settlement under 10-year route is for family visa holders who cannot meet the requirements, such as finance, for family settlement under 5-year route but nevertheless have been living in the UK for 10 years with family visa/permission to stay.

Applicants must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period during the 10 qualifying years unless exceptions apply.

English Language Requirement

Applicants must meet the English language proficiency at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level B1 in speaking and listening. They may meet the requirement based on:

  • a UK degree or equivalent
  • English qualification or above submitted in previous successful visa application
  • UK government approved SELT English test

Life in the UK Test

Life in the UK test assesses an applicant’s knowledge of British life, history, and culture. You can book the test on Gov website Life-in-the-UK-test.

You are exempt from the English proficiency and Life in the UK test requirements if you:

  • are under 18
  • are 65 or over, or
  • have a long-term physical or mental condition that prevent you from meeting the requirements

Good Character

Maintaining good character throughout the stay in the UK, demonstrating a commitment to abiding by UK laws and regulations.

Applications for ILR

The Home Office has streamlined the application process. In the majority of cases, applicants are able to submit their applications online, pay fees and charges and book an appointment with one of UKVI centres. They can choose to upload supporting documents by themselves or submit them to the visa centre. 

The application fee is currently £2,885 for each applicant, including dependants. The Immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS) is not applicable for ILR applications. 

The processing time for ILR applications typically ranges from eight weeks to six months. Applications under family settlement (10 years route) and private life could take up to 12 months. The status of the applicants remains the same until decision is made. They can legally live in the UK under the same conditions but cannot leave the UK or otherwise their applications may be treated as being withdrawn.

Expert Assistance

Applying for ILR is a significant and probably the final step on a migration journey. Our experienced immigration solicitors at Davenport Solicitors can guide you through this important process. We provide comprehensive advice on your case and any risks, assist preparing application and supporting documents, and communicate with the Home Office after submission should it prove necessary.

Contact us today for enquiries about your Indefinite Leave of Remain in the UK. 

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