If you have been living in the UK for at least five years, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). This is also known as ‘settled status.’
To apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain ILR, you need to have a valid passport from your country of origin and evidence of your residence in the UK, which has lasted at least five years. You must also meet a specific character, finances, and health requirements. Apart from this short route, there is also a long route that requires 10 years of continuous lawful stay.
For the 10-year route, 10 years of continuous lawful stay in the UK
The first thing to know about the 10-year route for Indefinite Leave to Remain application is that it’s only available to those who have been in the UK for 10 years or more. The second thing is that you can apply for ILR under this route if you have had a continuous period of 10 years or more in the UK. The law on what counts as a lawful stay is pretty complicated, so it’s worth reading up if you’re considering applying for ILR through this method. You can learn more here:
For the 5-year route, 5 years of continuous lawful stay in the UK
The first requirement for the 5-year route is that you must have been lawfully resident in the UK for at least 5 years (this means living in Britain legally, on a valid visa).
If you have spent time in prison or detention, this time will not count towards your continuous lawful stay. You will also need to have stayed continuously in the UK during these 5 years of residence; if you were outside of Britain for more than 180 days, then none of those days will be part of your continuous period.
Absence from the UK should not exceed 6 months at any one time
You can be outside the UK for up to 6 months in any one year. If you leave the UK for more than 6 months during 5 years, you will not qualify for ILR. You can spend up to 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12-month period, but none can be spent consecutively outside the UK. Your total time outside the UK should not exceed 18 months in the said years. Your total time outside the UK should not exceed 540 days.
Must pass life in the UK test
For those who have been in the UK for more than five years, you will need to take a life in the UK test. This involves answering questions about British culture, traditions, and history. The life in the UK test comprises 25 multiple choice questions split into three sections: general knowledge; British values and identity; or English language proficiency. You need to get at least 75% of these questions right to pass.
You have 60 minutes (1 hour) to complete the test. Still, if your application has already been submitted, you won’t be able to take it until your leave expires unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as being ill). You can only sit for one session per day, so ensure that all your documents are organized before entering the testing center!
Have a B1 English speaking level
Following UK immigration rules, you should have a B1 English speaking level to apply for ILR. Taking any English test to prove your proficiency in the language is not mandatory, but it is recommended if you want to boost your chances of getting a visa. You can take an English test at many testing centers throughout the country and receive results within two weeks after completion.
There are various types of English tests available, including online tests. These are pretty popular among people who want instant results and do not want to go through formal procedures in taking paper-based exams. In such cases, they can take an online exam and get their certificates immediately after finishing the test without waiting in queues or paying extra fees.
Significant obstacles to the integration path
Using this path to ILR UK, you need to show that you cannot be integrated into any other community except the UK. The Home Office will decide on your application by considering whether there are significant obstacles for you to live in another country or whether you had reasonable opportunities to integrate while living in the UK as a person with limited leave.
- You have no family or close relations in the country of return
- You don’t and cannot speak the language of the country of return
- Lack of ability to sustain life in the country of return
Documents needed to apply for ILR
- To apply for ILR, you’ll need to submit the following:
- A valid passport or travel document
A current visa with leave to remain in the UK has not expired and has no recourse to public funds (NCPRF) condition attached to it.
If you have this condition on your visa, you must provide evidence of how you will support yourself without relying on benefits from the state. This includes showing that you have sufficient funds available for your stay in the UK and proof of any employment or income sources.
For example, if you’re self-employed and paying taxes to HMRC as self-employed individuals do over their tax year, then it’s likely that they will accept this as proof of income. If not, then other options are available, including showing proof of savings or property ownership within England, Wales, or Northern Ireland only (not Scotland).
Proof that you passed Life In The UK test
This is a multiple-choice test designed by Pearson VUE that assesses individuals’ knowledge about British life and culture, such as:
- Customs like sending Christmas cards instead of gifts
- Traditions such as Burns Night celebrations where the haggis is eaten
- Sporting events such as Wimbledon
- Famous landmarks such as Stonehenge
- Historical figures such as Winston Churchill and Charles Darwin made significant contributions through their work
- Popular culture references like Harry Potter books/movies/games, etcetera.
If you want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must understand all the requirements and apply for ILR before your current status expires. If your application has not been successful, you may still be able to apply again if there are significant obstacles preventing integration with the community in which you live.