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Indefinite Leave to Remain

Family Immigration

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settlement available to overseas nationals.

Typically, you must have spent at least five years in the UK before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, though in certain circumstances you can apply after three years of residence in the UK, or even two.

Many different types of immigration visas can lead to ILR including Spouse Visas, Tier 1 Visas and Tier 2 visas.

Indefinite Leave to Remain enables a person to live in the UK without any restrictions, and is the first step towards naturalisation and full citizenship.

The specific requirements differ depending on the particular circumstances of the applicant, including the type of visa they hold.

The most basic requirement for ILR is to have been lawfully living in the UK for a certain period of time. However, there are other requirements which must be fulfilled too.

The general requirements to become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain are based on:

  • Lawful living in the UK for a certain period of time
  • No breach of immigration laws during your stay in the UK and no criminal record
  • A period of time spent outside the UK which doesn’t exceed 180 days in a 12-month period during the qualifying period
  • A pass in the Life in the UK test, which is a test based on British culture, history and traditions
  • Ability to prove that you meet the B1 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Languages
  • ILR exemptions

Certain individuals will not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted with settled UK status, including:

Those eligible for British citizenship by descent (or other form of automatic citizenship)
Child dependents of British citizen or person with settled status
An adult dependent who is reliant 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

Usually, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period to be eligible for ILR status.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, for example, if you have been outside of the UK on business, or your time outside of the UK was due to exceptional circumstances.

If you were outside the UK for the following reasons, it will generally be accepted as permissible absence:

  • Due to conflict
  • Serious illness of the applicant or a close family member
  • A natural disaster
  • Tier 2 (General) Visa/Skilled Worker Visa holder who has been sponsored to work in a PhD level occupation
  • Work undertaken overseas by certain full-time HM armed force reserve members
  • Some absences taken by applicants with a Global Talent or Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa

In general, it is a good idea to keep records of any periods of time you have spent outside of the UK since you began your UK residency.


As part of your application for ILR, you will need to include a number of supporting documents. This applies to both yourself, and any dependants who are applying with you.

It is important to note that the documents which you provide must be the original issues. If you cannot provide the original documents, you will need to explain why. If exceptional circumstances mean you cannot access the original documents, the Home Office will give some leniency.

Ordinarily, you will need to provide the following documents and information:

  • Passport and travel documents, including any old passport which was valid during your time in the UK
  • Birth or adoption certificates
  • Documents which account for any time spent outside of the UK during your residency, for example travel documents
  • A police registration certificate if you were required to register with the police when you arrived in the UK
  • A history of your immigration
  • Financial information, such as bank statements
  • Pass certificate of Life in the UK test
  • Pass certificate (if not exempt) to prove B1 level of English
  • Two identical passport-sized photographs

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