Skip to content

Ask us a question

Settle in the UK

Scroll to:

Overview

How do I settle in the UK?

In order to settle in the UK, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria for your visa type.

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is an immigration status that allows you to live and work in the UK indefinitely without restriction.

Who can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Generally speaking you need to be a citizen of a non-EU or non-EEA country to be able to apply for ILT and you usually have to have lived in the UK, with an appropriate visa type, for a period of 5 continuous years.

In some circumstances, you can apply for ILR before 5 years, within 2 or 3 years.

Which visa types lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain ?

Most Points Based System (PBS) visas lead to settlement in the UK however some visa types do not and you cannot use time spent in the UK on one or more of the below visa types towards your 5 years’ continuous residence required for ILR:

  • Visitor visas
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) (unless granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010)
  • Tier 4
  • Tier 5
  • Start Up

If you have lived in the UK continuously for 10 years and this includes time spent on one of the above visa types, you may be eligible to apply to settle under the long residence route.

If you are unsure about whether your visa allows you to settle in the UK, please contact us.

Can I settle in the UK with a Tier 2 visa?

Those with a Tier 2 (General) visa can apply for ILR after 5 years continuous residence requirement. They may also use time spent in different visa categories towards this 5 year period (provided that these visa categories are eligible for  ILR).

What is 10 year long residence ILR?

You can apply for ILR if you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years, which is known as ‘long residence’.  This route is particularly useful for people who have lived in the UK under a variety of different visas but are not eligible to settle after 5 years.

Can my family members apply for ILR?

Your partner can apply for ILR once they have reached 5 years continuous residence in the UK as your dependant. This may mean that you apply first and your partner applies at a later date.  This will always be the case where you are eligible to apply for ILR in 2 or 3 years as your partner must apply after 5 years.

Dependent children can apply for ILR at the same time as you with you if:

  • you and the child’s other parent are applying for ILR at the same time; or
  • you are applying as a sole parent with sole responsibility for the child.

Children are not subject to the continuous residence requirements, but partners are. In addition, partners and children over 18 must meet the English language requirement and pass the Life in the UK test.

It can be difficult to navigate the Immigration Rules when it comes to dependants, and it can be challenging to determine what further documents are needed when making an application as a family. We have vast experience of making successful ILR applications on behalf of families. If you are interested in finding out how we can help please contact us.

How much does an application for ILR cost?

The current application fee for ILR is £2,389. A further £2,389 will be payable for each dependant.

Each applicant will also have to pay £19.20 for biometric enrolment.

How long will it take for my ILR application to be decided?

If you apply through the standard service, you will get a decision within 6 months.

You can get a faster decision if you pay for the super priority service. This costs an additional £800 per applicant. Under the super priority service, you receive a decision the day after the biometric appointment – if that day is a weekday – otherwise a decision will be given within two working days of the appointment.

Can I lose my ILR?

Yes a person with ILR can lose their settled status for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they leave the UK for a period of more than two years or if they commit certain offences.

I have ILR, can I apply for British Citizenship?

Yes. Once you have held ILR for a period of 12 months, you can apply for British citizenship.

You do not need to wait 12 months to apply where you are married to a British citizen.

If you would like to find out more about British citizenship, please contact us.

How quickly can I apply for ILR?

You can submit your ILR application up to 28 days before you will reach the qualifying period of continuous residence.  For example, if your Tier 2 General visa was granted on 30 September 2015, you will reach 5 years continuous residence on 30 September 2020 and will be able to submit your application 28 days before, on 2 September 2020 at the earliest.

Eligibility criteria

What is the eligibility criteria for ILR?

The eligibility criteria can vary depending on the type of visa you have but generally speaking:

  • you need to have spent a minimum period of time continuously resident in the UK;
  • you have to meet the English language requirement;
  • you have to have passed the Life in the UK test;
  • you cannot have any unspent convictions;
  • you must not fall under any of the general grounds of refusal; and
  • you must not have been in the UK illegally.

You should check the specific eligibility criteria for your visa type before applying.  For example, if you have a Tier 2 General visa, you need to be paid a minimum salary to be eligible for ILR.  If you have any questions about the eligibility criteria for your specific visa type, we will be happy to help.

What is the continuous residence requirement for ILR?

To be eligible for ILR you need to demonstrate that you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of time.  This is usually, but not always, 5 years.

To have been ‘continuously resident’ in the UK, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12 month period.

If you have spent a lot of time outside of the UK and are worried about whether or not you meet this requirement, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

I have been in the UK for 5 years, can I apply for ILR?

This depends on the visa category or categories that you have held during these 5 years and whether you meet the other eligibility criteria. Please see which visa types lead to ILR in the above question.

Which visas allow me to apply for ILR in 2 or 3 years?

The following visa types allow you to apply for ILR before the usual 5 years:

  • Tier 1 (Investor) – you can apply for accelerated ILR within 2 or 3 years depending on the amount of your investment;
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and Global Talent – some Exceptional Talent or Global Talent visa holders can apply for ILR within 3 years. This depends on:
    • the endorsing body; and
    • whether you were endorsed for exceptional talent or promise;
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – you may be able to apply within 3 years depending on whether you have created a certain amount of jobs or income; and
  • Innovator – you can apply within 3 years.

What is the English language requirement for ILR?

You are required to prove your knowledge of the English language in order to apply for ILR unless an exemption applies. This can be done by:

  • providing evidence that you have a degree that has been taught or researched in English (whether in the UK or overseas); or
  • by taking an approved Home Office English language test at level B1, B2, C1 or C2.

You do not need to prove your English language abilities if you are:

  • under 18 or over 65 years old;
  • unable to because of a long term physical or mental condition – instead you need to provide medical evidence; or
  • you are from a majority English speaking country – a list of these countries can be found here.

What is the Life in the UK test?

Before you can apply for ILR you must pass the Life in the UK test. The test comprises 24 multiple choice questions on UK history, culture and traditions. The test must be booked through gov.uk and be taken at an approved test centre.  It costs £50.

How do I apply for ILR?

The ILR application must be submitted online with your supporting documents uploaded electronically.  You will also have to attend a biometric appointment to complete the application.

What supporting documents do I need to apply for ILR?

In general terms, all applicants will need to provide evidence of:

  • their English language ability e.g. degree certificate, test pass certificate;
  • Life in the UK test pass certificate; and
  • current visa type and previous UK visas held.

There may be additional documents that you have to provide with your application which are dictated by your individual circumstances (such as your current visa category, whether you are applying by yourself or with dependants and your nationality etc.).

For example, if you are relying on time spent in the UK under a Tier 2 General visa for your ILR application you will need to provide evidence of your current salary and a letter from your sponsor.  If you are relying on time spent in the UK under a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent or Global Talent visa, you will need to provide evidence that you have earned money in your field of expertise while you have had the visa.

Submitting missing or incorrect supporting documents can result in your application being rejected.  Our expert team have significant expertise in preparing successful applications, for further information contact us.

Case study

Case Study

Who was the applicant?

Krishna Kopuru is a leader in driving digital transformations and IT infrastructure initiatives in global organisations.

Having worked in the UK for nearly five years under a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer visa for a large multi-national IT consultancy, Mr Kopuru approached Ward Hadaway in 2017 to assist with an application for endorsement for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa which was granted first time under the Exceptional Talent criteria.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Kopuru received his new visa and moved roles and employers as well as subsequently setting up his own IT consultancy business.

In advance of reaching three years in the UK spent under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, Mr Kopuru sought our assistance with preparing his application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”).

How did we help?

During the three years continuous residence in the UK required as part of a successful ILR application, Mr Kopuru had worked for different employers in the tech sector, as well as being a shareholder and director of his own IT business.  This significantly increased the volume of supporting documents required for the application to evidence his work and earnings in the digital technology sector.

After advising on the potential supporting documents and reviewing the same, we assisted by narrowing the scope of required documentation evidencing his work and earnings and provided template letters for former employers to use when attesting Mr Kopuru’s role within their business.

We also liaised with his own company accountants in order to obtain the relevant information and documentation regarding company accounts, dividends paid and tax returns submitted for submission in support of the application.

This was in addition to assistance with reviewing all absences from the UK over the three year period to ensure compliance with the strict residence requirements and ensuring all supporting documents and information included in the application form was correct.

The result:

“Flora provided me with invaluable support and expertly navigated the ILR rules and guidance which made the process much easier for me.  We worked together throughout the application process from the very beginning to the very end.

At each stage in the process, Flora clearly outlined the options for me and set out what I was required to do and gave me the guidance and support to do so.

For example, my ILR application was submitted during the covid19 pandemic when the priority services were suspended which meant that travel outside the UK was not permitted whilst the application was pending.  Flora advised me on the different options available for providing the required biometric details to UK Visas & Immigration (“UKVI”) and the pro’s and con’s of each option.  I was then able to make an informed decision on how to proceed and went on to secure a quick and efficient service from UKVI which helped me to receive my ILR in a fraction of the standard 6 month processing time.”

Some kind words:

Mr Kopuru said “obtaining ILR is a key milestone and Flora understood the importance of this and helped to ensure that it was granted, first time with no issues.  Having worked with Flora and Ward Hadaway for several years now, I have no doubt that we will continue to work together on further matters which I require support on and also to refer friends and family requiring similar assistance.”

 

Case Study

Who was the applicant?

Tushar Sharma is the Founder of London based software development company, Zeg.ai Ltd.  The company’s fully automated technology allows its customers to create 3D models of their products on demand without the time-consuming and expensive process of manually creating the 3D images.

How did we help?

In 2018, Ward Hadaway assisted Zeg.ai Ltd with the process of applying for a sponsor licence to allow the company to sponsor a Russian national for a Tier 2 General visa to take up a key role within the business.

Mr Sharma was himself a visa holder and had previously had his own Tier 2 General visa and most recently a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and so when the time came for him and his family to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, he instructed Ward Hadaway for support with the application.

The most difficult part of submitting a successful ILR application is ensuring that the correct supporting documents are provided with the application.  This is particularly the case where the applicant has held various different UK visas in the past and also when they are applying with dependants.  In Mr Sharma’s case, this meant that additional documents such as letters, declarations and tax documents needed to be prepared collated, reviewed and submitted.

The result:

“In the end, I think we submitted around 200 pages of supporting documents.  At the beginning of the application, Flora identified the supporting documents that would be applicable to me and my family’s circumstances and I went away and gathered these.  I shared electronic copies for review and Flora quickly identified incomplete or missing documents as well as ones which were surplus to requirements.  The documents were categorised and put in chronological order to make it as easy as possible for the Home Office to follow.”

Our initial advice to submission of the application took 8 weeks and the applications were approved shortly after.  An ILR application is one of the most important immigration applications that you can make and are very costly, so it is crucial that it is done right, first time.

Some kind words:

Mr Sharma said; “I had worked with Flora Mewies and Natalie Payne previously through my company and they provided an excellent service. I knew that they would be able to simplify the ILR process for me and I was right.”

Services and pricing

Services and pricing options

We assist UK visa holders with their applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement) in the UK. This includes:

  • accelerated settlement for Global Talent and Investor visa holders
  • settlement after 5 years for PBS visa holders and their dependants
  • settlement after 5 years for partners of British citizens, and
  • settlement under the 10 year long residence route.

This commonly includes:

  • initial correspondence with you regarding eligibility
  • review of and advice to you on the draft completed application form
  • advice on the application process
  • advice on which supporting documents to provide with the application
  • assist with preparation of draft supporting documents including letters from third parties, and
  • assist with questions about the process or correspondence from the Home Office.

The fee estimate for the above service will depend on your route to settlement. Please contact us to discuss your personal circumstances and we will be happy to provide you with a quote.

Disclaimer

Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

Our immigration team

Flora Mewies profile image

Flora Mewies

Associate | Employment

View full profile

Leeds and Manchester

Roisin Patton profile image

Roisin Patton

Partner | Employment

View full profile

Newcastle

Gillian Burns profile image

Gillian Burns

Associate | Employment

View full profile

Newcastle

Natalie Payne profile image

Natalie Payne

Solicitor | Employment

View full profile

Leeds and Manchester

If your browser settings permit, we have placed cookies on your computer for analytics and other site-improvement purposes. You can give or withdraw consent at any time by changing your cookie settings.