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Settlement & Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you have legally resided in the UK for a certain amount of time, you may be able to apply to settle in the UK. This is known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’. For a successful application, you must meet certain regulations set out by the Home Office. 

At Cartwright King we are here to advise you throughout the entire legal process and can assist you wherever you are based. 

Free initial telephone consultation

Our highly skilled Immigration team are here to take the worry off your hands. We can provide an initial telephone consultation on "indefinite leave to remain" to see how we can assist in your case. Please call us on 0808 168 5550 or email

What criteria must be met?

The requirements are dependent on the type of category you are applying under but general requirements for each of the applications include:

  • Residing in the UK for a certain number of years relevant to your immigration status.
  • Prove that you have resided in the UK for the time you have held your current Visa.
  • Prove you have adhered to the requirements of your current Visa.
  • You have not breached any immigration rules and meet the suitability requirements.
  • You have a long term plan to remain and settle in the UK.
  • Passing English test and Life in the UK test.
  • Pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in at least CEFR level B1 in Speaking and Listening.

Is the Life in the UK Test compulsory when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you are aged between 18 and 65, it is compulsory for you to take the Life in the UK Test as part of your settlement application. This is ultimately an exam to test your knowledge of British traditions and customs and it is a requirement for you to score 75% or above.
You can take this test as many times as you need to and must pay a £50 fee every time you take it. If you have any further questions about this, our Immigration Solicitors will be more than happy to advise you.

How many years must you spend in the UK?

The number of years you must have spent in the UK prior to applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain is dependent on your current visa and circumstances. These can include:

  • Unmarried partner of a UK national or a person settled in the UK - 5 years (if your visa is granted after 9th July 2012).
  • Marriage to a UK national or a person settled in the UK – 5 years (if your visa is granted after 9th July 2012).
  • Civil Partner – 5 years (if your visa is granted after 9th July 2012).
  • Same sex partner - 5 years (if your visa is granted after 9th July 2012).
  • Victim of Domestic violence – Any time during the probationary period.
  • Ancestry Visa – 5 years.
  • Work permit, Tier 1 Investor, Tier 1 General, Tier 1 Entrepreneur – 5 years.
  • Tier 2 General – 5 years.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) – 5 years.
  • Permanent Residence as an EEA National – 5 years.
  • Permanent Residence as a family member of an EEA National – 5 years.
  • Lawful stay – 10 years.
  • Unlawful or lawful stay – 20 years  

What are you entitled to once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Once you have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be entitled to have unrestricted entry into the UK and unrestricted access to employment in the UK. 

However, it is possible to lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain status. You will lose your ILR if you leave the UK for more than 2 years and will have to start all over again in the future, unless you can show that all your family are in the UK and you have maintained strong ties with the UK. 

Indefinite Leave can be lost, and many lose it as a result of being away for more than 2 years, such as working abroad or moving back home to help out with family. ILR can also be lost by committing some offences. 

What are the alternatives if you are declined?

If you are not eligible to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain you could potentially extend your visa temporarily by applying for Further Leave to Remain. 

If you arrived in the UK as a visitor, the chances are you will not be able to extend your permission to stay beyond 6 months although in some instances can switch to a different immigration category altogether. It is essential that you apply to extend your stay before the existing permission expires otherwise it could lead to enforced removal.

What is the Secure English Language Test (SELT)?

For Indefinite Leave to Remain (to settle) or British Citizenship you must pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) in at least CEFR level B1 in Speaking and Listening.

  • 10 minute speaking and listening test
  • Speaking and listening only
  • Provisional result received in 24 hours
  • Certificate usually sent within 7 days

Why choose us and how we can help

Immigration rules are constantly changing and given the complex issues surrounding Indefinite Leave to Remain rules, we will ensure that care and attention is given to your case. A failed settlement application can have emotional and financial strain on you and your family. 
We are available to support you throughout the entire process professionally, explain the likely outcomes and fight on your behalf. We have a vast amount of experience in successfully obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain visas for our clients and we offer fixed fees at competitive rates.

We can assist you by:

  • Taking your full instructions in relation to find out everything about you and your case from the very outset.
  • Advise you about the strength and weaknesses of your settlement application.
  • Advise you about the required documentary evidence in support of your settlement application.
  • Carefully consider contents of the documentary evidence to be submitted to the Home Office and advise you accordingly.
  • Carefully complete the necessary application on your behalf.
  • Making relevant representation to the Home Office explaining your circumstances and persuading them as to why your settlement visa should be granted.
  • Submit your settlement application to the Home Office (or arrange an appointment for you to submit your visa at a premium visa service centre in person).
  • Protect your legal interests while your settlement application is pending with the Home Office and keep you informed of any progress.
  • Carry out any following up work that is required to ensure that a decision is reached on your settlement application.
  • Advise you on the implications of the Home Office decision on your settlement application.

How to contact us

Please call us on 0808 168 5550 for your free initial consultation. Alternatively, email our Immigration team on and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our Immigration Solicitors can provide advice across the country and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

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