Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite leave to remain
Legally reviewed by: Nisha Leel

Cartwright King’s dedicated UK Immigration Lawyers can help you secure indefinite leave to remain (ILR) with an accurate application that has the best possible chance of being approved by the Home Office.

Our specialist lawyers stay up to date with the latest UK immigration rules and have decades of experience dealing with immigration authorities. You benefit from our legal know-how to help you navigate the complex ILR process.

For help with your UK indefinite leave to remain application, get in touch with our UK Immigration Team today.

How Cartwright King Adds Value to Your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Application

Our dedicated team of Immigration Lawyers will do its best to ensure that your application is skilfully prepared and submitted – especially since mistakes can cause the ILR to be rejected.

Cartwright King Immigration Solicitors will:

  • explain what kind of documents you need to submit to best support your application
  • provide legal advice whenever you need it
  • complete the ILR application on your behalf if you wish
  • review the documents you are planning on submitting
  • ensure your application is submitted on time to preserve your legal status whilst your application is being processed by the UKVI
  • and more.

Benefit from a Free, Initial Telephone Conversation

Submitting an ILR application can be an extremely stressful experience – after all, if a mistake is made, you might not even be able to remain in the country. The last thing you want is to get it wrong.

That’s why you should consider calling us. The first phone conversation is *free and allows us to understand your situation and how we can be of help. Especially now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no better way of getting legal advice than directly from an Immigration solicitor.

*Please note that no advice will be given during this initial call.

Why Choose Cartwright King for Your Indefinite Leave to Remain Application?

An ILR application is not something to take lightly – for many people, getting their application accepted is a life and death situation. That’s precisely why we always do our best to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Our Legal 500 accredited lawyers have years of experience in dealing with ILR applications, which is why they can offer sensible and reliable legal advice and guidance.

We're here for you.

Frequently asked questions.

What Is ILR?

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is legal permission to live in the UK for an unlimited period of time. Those who have it are entitled to work in the UK and are eligible to apply for and receive any state benefit they qualify for

What Is the Difference Between Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and Citizenship?

ILR allows an individual the right to live and work in the UK for an indefinite period whilst retaining their original nationality. If you leave the UK for more than two years you will lose your ILR status. With British citizenship you will have the right to vote, apply for a British passport and you can leave the UK for as long as you want and still retain your British nationality.

To apply for British citizenship, you will have to wait until 12 months after obtaining your ILR. The only exception is when you are married to a British citizen, In which case you can apply for British citizenship immediately after obtaining your ILR visa.

What Are the Basic Criteria I Must Meet to Apply for ILR?

The more specific criteria you must meet for UK ILR depends on the type of visa category you are applying for. However, the general requirements you must meet, include:

  • A certain number of years living in the UK specific to your current immigration status
  • Proof that you have lived in the UK for the required years for the amount of time that you have held your current UK visa
  • Evidence that you have adhered to the conditions of your current UK visa
  • Non-violation of UK immigration rules
  • An intention to remain and settle in the UK
  • Passing a Home Office approved English test and the Life in the UK test

Is the Life in the UK Test Compulsory for an ILR Application?

Yes. If you are aged between 18 and 65, you must take the Life in the UK test as part of your settlement application. The exam tests your knowledge of British traditions and customs and you need to score 75% or above to pass.

You can take the test as many times as you need, and must pay a £50 fee every time you take it.

How Many Years Must I Be in Britain to Apply for ILR?

There are several UK visa and immigration categories that offer a pathway to ILR. Your eligibility to apply for ILR depends on your current visa and immigration status. These include:

ILR after 5 years

  • Unmarried partner of a UK national or a person settled in the UK 5 years (if your visa was granted after 9 July 2012) .Partner or Spouse visa
  • Tier 1 visa (Investor, Exceptional Talent & Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Tier 2 (ICT) visa ONLY if granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010
  • UK Ancestry visa
  • Retired Person visa

ILR after 6 years

  • Discretionary Leave to Remain

ILR after 10 years

  • Long Residence ILR after 10 years continuous legal residency in the UK

Some UK visa categories offer a fast-track route to ILR after 2 or 3 years, including the Tier 1 Investor visa, plus the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa – however, these two routes are now closed to new applicants.

If you hold an Innovator visa, you can apply for ILR after three years. However, any prior time accumulated in the UK under a Start Up visa cannot count towards the required three-year time period.

In some circumstances, it may be possible to combine time spent in the UK on different visas towards meeting the ILR qualifying period.

What Does ILR Entitle Me To?

Once you have obtained indefinite leave to remain, you will be entitled to unrestricted entry into the UK and unrestricted access to employment.

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 two 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 two years, such as working abroad or moving back home to help out with family. ILR can also be lost by committing a criminal offence.

Are There Alternatives If My ILR Application Is Rejected?

If you are not eligible for indefinite leave to remain, you could potentially extend your visa temporarily by applying for further leave to remain.

It is essential that you apply to extend your stay before the existing permission expires, otherwise, it could lead to enforced removal.

Are There Any Fees Connected with an Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Yes – when applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain, you need to pay the application fees. The amount you have to pay will depend on the form that you will need to submit.

ILR vs Permanent Residence - What's the Difference?

Some people tend to use the terms’ indefinite leave to remain’ and ‘permanent residence’ interchangeably. However, they aren’t the same thing.

The main distinction between them is who is eligible for them. Permanent residence is given to EEA nationals who have stayed in the UK for at least five years whilst undertaking a ‘qualifying activity’ (working, job seeking, studying, etc.). During this period, they cannot leave the country for more than 6 months.

Indefinite leave to remain, on the other hand, is meant for non-EEA nationals who have stayed in the United Kingdom for more than five years. Applicants might be required to take a Life in the UK test and prove their knowledge of English through a language test.

Both ILR and permanent residence are permanent statuses, meaning that they cannot be revoked unless you leave the UK for more than 2 years or commit a serious crime.

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