How to Get Permanent Residency in UK?

Visa and residency requirements can be very complicated to understand, not to mention the overall application process and understanding the official terminology used. That’s why companies like Synergy Immigration Solutions are so useful; they can help you understand the process, what visas you can and can’t apply for, and help you get work or reside in the UK.

So what is permanent residency and how can you get it? Read on to find out. 

What Is Permanent Residency?

Permanent residency, unlike most immigration terminology, is rather easy to understand. It gives you the right to live, work and study in the UK under the same restrictions as British citizens. It’s also known as settlement but is more commonly called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on official government websites. 

You have to be in the UK already to apply for permanent residency, and the most common way to apply is through having a work visa. However, you can also apply if you have family members who have permanent residency in the UK, have ancestors from the UK, or are an asylum seeker or refugee. Each application process for permanent residency is different, which can make the process confusing if you try to go through it alone. 

There is no age limit for permanent residency, so anyone can apply, provided they meet the requirements of the application. Once you receive your permanent residency documents, you can reside in the UK indefinitely i.e. there is no expiration date for permanent residency. However, you do have to be legally resident in the UK for a number of years before applying for permanent residency – how long you need to be there depends on what visa you have.

What’s the Difference Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship?

Permanent residency can lead to British citizenship, but they’re not the same thing. In most cases, you need to have been living in the UK for at least 5 years and have had permanent residency for at least 12 months before applying for British citizenship. For some visas, such as the Innovator Founder visa and the Partner or Spouse visa, you only need to have been in the UK for 3 or 2 years respectively. 

To get British citizenship, you then need to:

  • Demonstrate intent to live permanently in the UK (unless applying as a spouse or civil partner of a British citizen)
  • Pass the Life in the UK test
  • Demonstrate sufficient understanding of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic if aged between 18 and 64
  • Be of good character i.e. not have a criminal record of any serious crimes

Some foreign nationals are required by their country of origin to renounce their citizenship in order to obtain British citizenship, while others allow dual citizenship, so check what your country’s restrictions are before applying. Also, gaining ILR or British citizenship does not automatically give you a British passport, but you can apply for one after gaining citizenship.

Being born in the UK also does not guarantee you British citizenship. Your parents will have to apply through the legal routes to gain you British citizenship if you are under 18 and born in the UK. 

What Visas Lead to Permanent Residency?

You can apply for permanent residency if you have been living on any of the following visas for the required number of years:

  • Tier 2 visa
  • International Sportsperson visa
  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Scale-up Worker visa
  • Global Talent visa, 
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor visa
  • Innovator Founder visa
  • Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa
  • International Agreement visa

How long you need to have been in the UK on the visa changes according to which visa you have, although most work visas and the UK Ancestry visa require you to have been resident for at least 5 years before making your application. Furthermore, you must have been in the UK for at least 6 months of each year of your visa to qualify for permanent residency. This also goes to prove your intent to make a life in the UK if you wish to later apply for British citizenship.

You may also have to meet financial requirements, depending on the visa you have. When you start your application, the number of years you have been living in the UK does not include the time you spent in the UK on a Fiancé(e) or Intended Marriage visa. 

What’s the Easiest Way to Get Permanent Residency in the UK?

In short, there’s no easy way to get permanent residency in the UK, as there are many eligibility requirements for each type of visa that can lead to permanent residency. However, as work visas require you to have a job offer from a sponsor in the UK that has been approved by the Home Office, the easiest way to obtain permanent residency without needing to meet so many financial or work-related requirements is through a UK Ancestry visa or as a family member of someone already in the UK with permanent residency. 

As these visas can still take some time before granting you permanent residency, the quickest way to get permanent residency is through the Partner or Spouse visa, which only requires you to be in the UK for 2 years before your application. However, you must be in the UK for the entire two years to be considered.

What’s a Temporary Visa?

A temporary visa does not lead to permanent residency, as it is given on a temporary basis to live and work in the UK. Previously known as the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa, the visas were split into the Creative Worker visa and International Sportsperson visa in 2022 to try to simplify the application process. 

As with all work visas, you need to have a job offer from an approved sponsor before making your application; you can find jobs in the UK on websites such as Indeed and find out if the employer is eligible to sponsor foreign nationals to work in the UK. As with other visas such as the Skilled Worker visa, your job must also be on a list of permitted jobs that are needed in the UK. For example, a Creative Worker must be an actor, musician, dancer or other eligible creative field to qualify, or a Skilled Worker must find their job on the list of occupation shortages on the government’s eligible jobs list.

Temporary visas are only given for whichever is the shorter time of 12 months, or the length of your work contract plus 28 days. You can extend the Creative Worker visa, however, only up to a maximum of 24 months.

Can You Bring Your Family to the UK if You Have Permanent Residency?

If you have permanent residency but your close family members do not, they can also obtain permanent residency via an application. However, they must already be in the UK when making their application, and have a valid visa for the length of the application process. It can take up to 6 months to receive a response from the Home Office, so it’s best to apply as soon as possible so you don’t risk having to leave the UK and your ILR application being cancelled. 

Close family members refer to your partner, spouse, children or adult dependents. Your siblings or grandparents cannot obtain permanent residency if you have it, unless you can prove that they need to be with you for their care i.e. they are an adult dependent. 

Each applicant must pay the application fee of £2,404, although in some cases you can pay extra to receive a faster decision.

Need Help with Your UK Visa Application?

Applying for permanent residency and visas for the UK can be awfully complicated, with different application processes and eligibility requirements for different people. But you don’t have to go it alone. 

Synergy Immigration Solutions has an experienced team of immigration experts ready to help you with any application. Contact us today to learn how we help each individual with their visa application. 

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