Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as Permanent Residence, grants the right to live and work in the UK free of immigration restrictions. Qualification criteria for ILR vary depending on the type of visa status you have held in the UK.
Minimum Period of Continuous stay in the UK
The following table provides a guide to the minimum period of stay within the UK that you must complete in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can combine different visa types. As an example, you could have entered the UK with a Tier 2 Work Permit and then switched to a Tier 1 General Visa. Both of these periods would count towards the qualifying period.
|Status ( Type of Visa currently )||Qualifying period|
|Tier 1 General / HSMP||5 years|
|Tier 2 General / Work permit||5 years|
|Writers, composers and artists||5 years|
|Sole representatives||5 years|
|To establish in business||5 years|
|Unmarried partners||5 years|
|Spouse Visa / Civil Partner / EEA Family Visa||5 years|
|Legal stay on any basis||10 years|
Indefinite Leave to Remain removes any immigration based restrictions in the UK.
During the qualifying period you should generally aim to not be outside the UK for more than 90 days during the final 12-month period and no more than 180 days in any consecutive 12-month period prior to application. There are exceptions to this general rule and these exceptions can relate to time outside the UK that is directly related to your UK employment. Some specific situations and visa types will allow for longer periods outside the UK.
In addition to the above requirements, there are further requirements that will depend on the visa status that you hold at the time of applying for ILR.
Those holding Tier 1 General visa status will be required to demonstrate that they meet a points threshold that is similar to the extension requirements for their visa.
Those holding Tier 2 Visa status (work permits) will be required to demonstrate that they have earned no less than the level of salary that was stated on their most recent Tier 2 Visa application.
All applicants, other than those covered by the HSMP Judicial Review, will also have to pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test AND a recognised English language test (except for certain English-speaking nationalities and those who have a degree taught in English). In addition you will have to be free of any unspent convictions under the Criminality section.
After one year of Permanent Residence you can apply for British Citizenship.
Conditions of Stay for ILR
It is important to realise that this visa grants Indefinite Leave to REMAIN. This means that your visa can be revoked if you are outside the UK for a lengthy period where it might appear that the UK is no longer your primary residence. It is therefore strongly recommended that you do not stay outside the UK for more than 2 years and you should ideally apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen as soon as you are able to do so.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Applications
Applications for ILR made by post can take up to 6 months to be decided and you will be without your passport for this time. If your case is urgent or you simply do not wish to be without your passport for this length of time then you can book an appointment for a same-day decision. The waiting time for an appointment is usually between 4 to 6 weeks.