Settling Down: Understanding Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement, is a crucial step for those looking to make the United Kingdom their permanent home. It grants individuals the right to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely, without any time constraints on their stay. Moreover, ILR holders can apply for benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria and even pursue British citizenship. In this article, we'll walk you through the various ways to apply for ILR, its benefits, and some important considerations.

How to Apply for ILR

The path to ILR varies depending on your circumstances. Here are the primary routes:

If You Work in the UK
  • You can apply for ILR if you have a valid work visa.
  • Typically, you must have lived and worked in the UK for five years. However, certain visas, like the Tier 1 visa, may require only 2-3 years, and the Innovator Founder or Global Talent visa may require three years.
  • Meeting salary or financial requirements may also be necessary, depending on your visa type.
If You Have Family in the UK
  • If you have a partner, parent, child, or other relative settled in the UK (either as a British citizen or someone with ILR), you may be eligible.
  • The application process varies based on your visa and the settled status of your family member.
If You've Lived in the UK for 10 Years
  • You may be elgible for ILR if you have been living in the UK for ten years or more.
If You're a Commonwealth Citizen
  • Some Commonwealth citizens have 'right of abode' in the UK, allowing them to live and work without immigration restrictions.
  • Other Commonwealth citizens may be eligible to apply for ILR based on their specific circumstances.
Other Ways to Apply
  • Refugees, individuals with humanitarian protection or Discretionary Leave, and former ILR holders returning to the UK may also apply.
  • Serving in the armed forces can also be a pathway to ILR.

Benefits of ILR

Once you obtain ILR, you gain several advantages:

1. Work Freedom: You no longer need permission from a government department to work or change your employment. Restrictions on working hours or types of employment are lifted.

2. Study Opportunities: ILR holders are free to study in the UK. They may also pay home tuition fees and apply for student finance, provided they meet certain residency criteria.

3. Voting Rights: Qualifying Commonwealth citizens with ILR can participate in national and local elections and referenda.

4. Access to Public Funds: ILR holders have access to public funds, including job seekers' allowances and other benefits.

Important Considerations

1. Maintaining ILR: Be aware that you can lose ILR if you commit serious crimes leading to deportation or if you obtained ILR through deception.

2. Continuous Residency: Staying outside the UK for more than two years continuously can lead to the lapse of your ILR, making it important to maintain your ties to the UK.

3. Children Born in the UK: Children born in the UK to ILR holders may be eligible to register as British citizens.

Indefinite Leave to Remain offers a pathway to settling in the UK permanently, providing you with the freedom to live, work, and study without time restrictions. While there are various routes to ILR, it's essential to understand the specific requirements and benefits associated with your circumstances.

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As we understand the significance of ILR, we are here to assist you throughout the application process. Our experienced professionals are well-versed in UK immigration matters and can provide the guidance and support you need to achieve ILR status.

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Alexandra Mokrova

Alexandra Mokrova

Co-founder of Emigral, Immigration Lawyer