Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement)

When you are granted indefinite leave to remain, often known as UK Settlement, you are given the freedom to live and work in the UK without facing travel or immigration limitations. Along with the unlimited rights to work, study, the ILR holders can have more favourable status when purchasing a house, obtaining a loan from a bank and accessing certain benefits such as public funds. You can travel out of the UK and enter the UK without needing a visa. 

Is ILR the same as British citizenship?

Indefinite Leave to Remain gives you right to reside in the UK permanently, however it is not the same as British Citizenship.  ILR does not give voting rights and may be lost if you leave the UK for an extended period or if you are about to be deported due to a conviction.

Between Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship, there are several variations in rights and status. From the immigration perspective, ILR and Naturalisation applications are separate applications and have different eligibility conditions and application procedures.

ILR status may be lost if a person has been out of the country for more than two years, revoked on national security grounds, or lost if a person commits a crime that could result in deportation.

ILR is a prerequisite for anyone intending to apply to naturalise as a British citizen. Usually, you will need to have had ILR or Settled status for at least a year before you may be eligible to submit a Naturalisation application. You do not need to wait 12 months after ILR to apply for British Citizenship if you are married or in civil partnership with a British citizen.

Once you obtain British citizenship, and you will be eligible to vote and apply for a British passport.

Additionally, British Citizenship is permanent.

What is the difference between Further Leave to Remain and Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you are not yet eligible for ILR, you might be able to extend your current visa and continue to stay in the UK in the same category, if the visa you hold allows you to extend. This is referred to as Further Leave to Remain.

To request an extension on your current stay you should submit your application before your current  residence permit expires to protect your existing rights.

Your further leave to remain rights will be in line with your existing visa category. The requirements you will need to meet to obtain ILR rights will be also defined by your existing visa. In some circumstances you can count the years spent staying on different visas to fulfil the qualifying period which may be 5 years or 10 years. Not every visa will be counted towards completing the 5-year or 10-year qualifying period. Your valid visa category will outline your rights towards the completing qualifying period as well as other eligibility criteria.

Before submitting you ILR application, you must check all the relevant criteria applies to your immigration status. Strict eligibility criteria must be met and evidenced to make a successful application to the Home Office, UKVI. The application procedures include completing the relevant Home Office Visa Application Form, submitting supporting documentation and attending an appointment to give your biometric details. Family members on a dependant visa may also be eligible for ILR where the main applicant qualifies. Each family member must meet the required criteria and complete the procedures on their account.
The general requirements for ILR include the following:


  • Living lawfully in the UK for a specific amount of time (depending on your current immigration route, usually 5 or 10 years)
  • Having no criminal record or violations of immigration regulations beyond the specified thresholds
  • During the qualifying residency period, any time spent outside the UK must not total more than 180 days in a 12-month period in most work and business visas.
  • Passing the Life in the UK test, unless the applicant is exempt
  • Proving sufficient knowledge of the English language to the standard of at least B1 English proficiency as required by the Common European Framework of Languages, unless an exemption due to age or disability applies.

Immigration status

Qualifying period

Partner of a British Citizen or Person settled in the UK visa

After 2 years for visas issued prior to 9 July 2012, after five or ten years (depending on the route)  if applied on or after 9 July 2012

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

After 5 years

Tier 2 (Skilled Worker) Visa

After 5 years

UK Ancestry visa

After 5 years

Retired Person visa

After 5 years

Discretionary Leave to Remain

6 years

Long Residence

After 10 years continuous legal residency in the UK

Returning Resident

If settled in the UK prior to departure and returning to the UK within two years of departure, then may be able to apply immediately on return

Turkish ECAA Visas

After 5 years

Global Talent Visa

After 3 or 5 years

Innovator Founder Visa

After 3 years

Overseas Representative Visa

After 5 years

Private Life Visa

After 10 years

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Let’s look at the highlights

How to apply

You must complete the necessary UKVI application forms and gather the required supporting documentation before submitting your application for ILR. You should also check if you need to pass the Life in the UK test and the English language requirements. This condition applies to both you personally and any dependents you are applying for. Sometimes, fast-track processing of your ILR application may be available for an additional fee to be payable to the UKVI.

Supporting Evidence

You must submit a number of additional documents to the UKVI with your ILR application, depending on your visa type and conditions. Your evidence file should prove your eligibility for the ILR under the relevant law and also outline personal circumstances that require explanations, such as absences, criminality, changes and challenges to make sure all the relevant information has been passed to the UKVI caseworkers. The evidence file should also include the supporting documents for the dependent family members applying with you.

Cost & Waiting Times

The UKVI fees are paid for each applicant at the time of submitting your application form online. Waiting times vary according to the workload of the Home Office caseworkers. Officially announced maximum waiting times are 6 months.

KoLL Requirements

You are required to pass the Life in the UK test and B1 English test before applying for ILR. Make your appointment in timely manner visiting the websites of the UKVI approved test centres. You will need to pass these tests before submitting your application. Applicants under 18 and over 65 are exempt from the KoLL requirements.


You can apply for an ILR Dependent Visa after 5 years of living in the UK on a Family Visa or as a dependent on a qualifying work visa. You can apply as a dependent partner (husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner) or Dependent children under the age of 18.

Criminal Convictions

Previous offences and convictions are likely to affect your application, although this does depend upon the type of conviction or offence. Our experienced immigration advisers are here to help with your and your family members’ ILR applications. Immigration Connection can assist you in understanding the eligibility criteria that applies to you and gather the right documentation to prove your eligibility. We assist you in completing your application form, preparing the documents for submission and booking your appointment. As your legal representatives we include our legal representation to your application and explain all the relevant points against the relevant immigration rules and details that require further explanation. We continue to be a point of contact for the UKVI caseworkers and inform you on any developments regarding your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

The common criteria among many ILR routes require you to present Life in the UK Test and a B1 English score. Depending on the type of visa you hold and other personal circumstances, the required evidence will vary. We provide all our applicants with a tailored evidence list after evaluating your circumstances relevant to your case. Our advisers will meet you for a “Supporting Evidence Consultation Session” where we understand your case and provide you a written report on the legal requirements and type of evidence which must be provided to meet each applicable requirement. You can book this service as a standalone consultation session and submit your own application based on our professional legal advice. Alternatively, we take you in as a client and oversee all the steps from beginning to end.

Any child you have in the UK while you have valid ILR status will automatically be a British citizen. If you obtained your ILR after your child was born, you will need to apply for registering your child as British.

Previous offences and convictions are likely to affect your application, although this does depend upon the type of conviction or offence. Seeking an expert opinion can help you make an informed decision on when to apply. In some circumstances, it might be immigration-wise to apply for an extension rather than further leave to remain.

If you are successful in being granted ILR, you will be issued a biometric residence permit as evidence of your UK immigration status. If you are applying for a Returning Resident visa after more than two years out of the country, the BRP can be used as proof of your former ILR status.

Yes. ILR holders are entitled to access public benefits.

This will entirely depend on the visa type and your eligibility for an extension. By applying for a “further leave to remain,” you can temporarily extend your current visa and use this additional time to meet the requirements of ILR. You must submit your extension application to the UKVI before your current authorisation expires to avoid losing your rights.

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