If you’re a non-EU citizen, the road to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can be tricky and riddled with complex immigration laws that seem to change with the season. Well, wonder no more; below you will find all the information you need to make a successful ILR application.
A beginner’s guide to ILR
ILR can be thought of as a type of permanent residency for non-EU nationals who want to settle in the UK. When you hold ILR, you can work in the UK and exit and re-enter the country multiple times without restriction.
After you obtain ILR, you’re just 12 months away from being able to apply for British citizenship. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first find out how to get the all-important status of ILR.
What visas qualify you for ILR?
You may apply for ILR under any of the following circumstances:
- After five continuous years on a Spouse visa
- Shortly prior to the expiry of a five-year Ancestry visa
- After having held a Tier 2 work permit for five continuous years
- Once having legally spent 10 continuous years in the UK
- Once having spent five continuous years in the UK as an investor
- Once having spent five continuous years as a dependant (married partner, unmarried partner, child under 18 or under 18 when first applied) under the points-based system
- Once having spent five continuous years in the UK as a writer, composer or artist
- Once having spent five continuous years in the UK as a retired person of independent means
In addition to these requirements, you will also need to prove the following in your application:
- You are of good character
- You have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK and the English language
- You have not spent more than 900 days outside the UK in that five-year period
- You have not spent 180 days or more outside of the UK in the 12 months prior to your application for ILR
The residential requirements for ILR
To be eligible for ILR, you must have been resident and present in the UK for at least five years before the date of your application. During this five-year period, you must also not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK or more than 90 days in the last 12-month period. For example, if you have spent four of the last 12 months outside of the UK, you will not qualify for ILR. However, if you spent four weeks out of the country during the last 12 months, you are still considered eligible.
A handy exception to the five-year rule
If you’re the partner of an Ancestry visa holder (or a dependant who is under 18) in the UK, the rules are slightly different for you. You’ll be eligible for ILR at the same time as the main visa holder, your partner, regardless of when you decide to join your partner in the UK. This means that if your partner is three years away from qualifying for ILR when they add you to their visa, you too will be able to apply at the same time as them.
An additional requirement for the Tier 2 (General) visa holders
If you are currently living and working in the UK on Tier 2 (General) visa and your goal is to remain there permanently, there is an additional requirement that you’ll need to meet when applying for ILR. This is the minimum income requirement (also known as the minimum pay threshold). Currently, you need to be earning at least £35,500 a year at the time of your application.
You will not qualify for ILR if you do not meet this requirement. This income requirement only applies to holders of Tier 2 (General) visa.
How to apply for ILR
If you meet all the criteria listed above, there’s a good chance you could be eligible for ILR. To apply, you can either do it yourself and work directly through the Home Office or have a visa expert assist you.
If you feel even the slightest bit unsure about your application or the application process, it’s a good idea to consult an immigration expert. That way you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your application meets the Home Office’s requirements. What’s more, should your application be complex, you’ll receive the right advice and assistance to ensure success.
If you think that you may qualify for ILR, or you have a question about getting ILR, send Sable International’s immigration team an email.