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Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - Things you must know

Indefinite leave to remain is a privilege and provides settlement in the UK for overseas nationals. ILR is an immigration status where you are not considered to be under immigration control. Those who are granted indefinite leave to remain can live in the UK for as long as they like without any time restrictions. You can also work, do business, and study in the UK with ILR status, and you can use it towards naturalization and British citizenship. 

A person with ILR status is eligible to access public funds and benefits in the UK. 

It is important to note that indefinite leave to remain is not a permanent status, and it can lapse if you stay outside the UK for two years or more. You will need to apply for a returning resident vsia in such cases.  


ILR Eligibility 

The most common eligibility requirement among various ways of applying for an ILR is continuously living in the UK. Usually, it is five years of continuous residence in the UK. However, it can be two, three, and even ten years under different circumstances. The general eligibility requirements are as following: 

  • You should not breach UK’s immigration laws during your stay in the UK. 

  • You should not have a criminal record. 

  • You should not spend time outside the UK exceeding 180 days in 12 months during the qualifying period of 5 years or other, as applicable. 

  • You need to pass the Life in the UK test, which is a test based on British culture, history, and traditions – unless you are under the age of 18 years or over 65 years. 

  • You need to meet the English language requirement, which means that you meet the B1 level of English set out by the Common European Framework of Languages – unless you are under the age of 18 years or over 65 years. 



There are some exemptions given to specific individuals. Such individuals will not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted settled status in the UK. Such individuals include the following: 

  • Those eligible for British citizenship by descent or other forms of automatic citizenship. 

  • Children who are dependents of a British citizen or person with settled status. 

  • Those adults who are dependent and rely on the long-term care of their family member who is a British citizen or person with settled status. 

  • Refugees resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Program. 


Different ways of applying for ILR 

You may be in the UK on any valid visa, and thus, depending upon your circumstances, there are various ways through which you can apply for ILR. 

(a) If you are in the UK on a work visa – now known as Skilled Worker Visa 

If you work in the UK, it usually takes five years of continuous living in the UK, after which you become eligible for applying for an ILR. However, if you are on a Tier 1 visa, the constant residence requirement can be 2 or 3 years, and if you are on an innovator or global talent visa, the same can be three years. 

(b) If your family is in the UK 

If your partner, parent, child, or other relative lives in the UK and is either a British Citizen or has ILR, you may be able to apply for an ILR too. 

(c) Based on ten years lawful residence in the UK  

If you have been living in the UK for ten years or more, you may be able to apply for an ILR. 

(d) If you are a Ancestry Visa Holder 

Those commonwealth citizens who don’t have the right of abode in the UK can apply for an ILR if they have been living in the UK for five years on a UK ancestry visa. 

(e) Other ways to apply for an ILR 

You can apply for an ILR if you are discharged from the HM Forces, are a Refugee, have  had humanitarian protection, or have discretionary leave and in other cases the Indefinite Leave to Remain can also be granted on discretion of the Home Office.  

If you are looking for representations on any of the above routes you can get a free assessment from one of our lawyers at Visa and Migration Ltd. You can call 02034111261 or email    




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Visa and Migration is a private OISC regulated company (F201500999) and is not an official Government body. If you would like to prepare and submit your UK immigration application yourself you can do so by visiting the UKVI website.