UK visa application processes can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re switching from one visa to another or don’t have a clear idea of what documentation you need to provide as evidence for your application. Fortunately, visa agencies like Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help you understand what you need to know to apply and how to increase your chances of receiving your temporary or permanent residency in the UK.
So what is Indefinite Leave to Remain and how do you apply for it? Let’s take a look.
What Is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is the official term used to refer to having legal permission to live, work, and study in the UK for as long as the applicant wishes, and claim benefits if eligible. It’s also known as permanent residency or settlement. In most cases, people who have permission to stay in the UK on valid visas can apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years in the UK, however, there are some exceptions where some people can apply after a shorter, or longer length of time.
You need to prove your intent to remain in the UK when you apply, so if your application is successful, you may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship after one year has passed.
Who Can Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
You must be living in the UK on a valid visa to be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Valid visas are those that last more than 6 months, so Standard Visitor Visas and most Student Visas are not valid. However, most Work Visas and Family Visas are eligible if the person has been living in the UK on that visa alone for at least 5 years.
There are, however, some exceptions, including:
- If you have an Innovator Founder Visa or Global Talent Visa, you may apply for ILR after 3 years
- If you have a Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor Visa you may apply for ILR after 2 years
In most cases, you must also not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months over the last 5 years.
You can also apply for ILR if you have been living in the UK for at least 5 years on a Family Visa. Family Visas are for:
- Long-term partners
- Parents of children under 18 or those not yet independent
- Children under 18 or not yet independent
- Adult relatives dependent on care from the UK resident
Anyone who has been living in the UK for 5 years or more on a UK Ancestry Visa may also apply for ILR, although some commonwealth citizens may be eligible for British citizenship directly, such as those eligible for the Windrush Scheme.
Other people can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they have protected status, have served in the British armed forces, or have previously had ILR and are returning to the UK.
When Can You Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
In most cases, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after having lived in the UK for 5 years, however, specific Work Visas permit you to apply after 2 or 3 years. You can also apply after having lived or worked in the UK for 10 years or more. However, the important thing to note is that you must have a valid visa when you apply for ILR, as if your visa expires while your ILR application is being processed, it will be withdrawn, you will not receive a refund, and you will be required to leave the country.
You may also only apply for indefinite leave to remain a maximum of 28 days before you meet the eligibility requirements i.e. 28 days before you have completed 5 years in the UK. However, you must also bear in mind that the application process takes on average up to 6 months, so you must have at least 6 months left on your visa before you apply.
For people applying for ILR who are currently in the UK on a Family Visa, you therefore must consider:
- your first application grants you 2 years and 9 months in the UK
- extending a Family Visa grants you a further 2 years and 6 months in the UK
This gives you a total of 5 years and 3 months in the UK, so if you apply as soon as possible, that only gives you 4 months within which you may receive your application; if the Home Office has further questions or there is a long processing time, you may have to leave the country and apply for another Family Visa from abroad. To avoid this, you can either apply for another Family Visa or pay an extra £1,000 for the super priority service to receive a response from the Home Office within 2 working days.
You must also remain in the UK, Ireland or Channel Islands while your application is being processed to ensure it is not withdrawn.
Documents Needed to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
There is no official list of documents needed for an indefinite leave to remain application, as there are slightly different documents needed according to what visa you currently have. The exact documents required for the application will be made clear when you start the application. All applications must be submitted online by the applicant, although you can have help if you are not computer savvy or do not have internet access.
Although there is no definitive list, there are some documents needed for all applications if applicants are between 19 and 64 years old, including:
- Proof of having taken and passed the Life in the UK Test
- Proof of the applicant’s English language comprehension at B1 or equivalent level, taken by a recognised body, or with a degree taught or researched in English
Applicants with a Family Visa must also:
- Prove their genuine and existing relationship with the British resident
- Prove sufficient funds to support and house them
- Provide proof of address
- Prove they live with the UK sponsor
If the applicant is applying as a parent when they have a partner who has permanent residency or British citizenship, they must first apply for a Partner Visa before applying for ILR.
Children applying for ILR must also meet specific requirements including:
- The parent or parents, must have permanent residency in the UK and be either biological or adoptive parents, or step-parents only if the biological parent has died
- If the child lives with both parents, they must both have permanent residency in the UK
- If the child lives with one parent, the parent must have permanent residency and sole responsibility for the child, unless:
- the second parent has died
- there are valid and proveable reasons why the child should stay in the UK
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
No matter what visa you have, or whether you are applying for indefinite leave to remain as a family, each applicant must pay the application fee of £2,885. Some Work Visas also have a financial requirement that must be met. Similarly, parents on Family Visas applying for ILR must have a combined income of at least £18,600, with an extra sum per additional child.
Unlike with your Work or Family Visas, you do not need to pay the immigration health surcharge when applying for indefinite leave to remain.
Need Help with Your Application?
The application for indefinite leave to remain is not an easy process, but it can be hugely worthwhile if you intend to continue living in the UK, as it grants you more rights in the country as well as stops you from needing to pay visa application fees every 2 to 3 years.
Although the application can be complicated, the team of immigration experts at Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help with every application. Contact us now to find out more.