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    Indefinite Leave to Remain for Refugees

    The United Kingdom diligently strives to adhere to its global commitments towards the safeguarding of refugee rights. Its asylum application process is structured to be just and efficient, aiming to safeguard and support individuals who truly require asylum. For numerous years, the UK has stood as one of the nations actively offering refuge and remains dedicated to assisting refugees in securing a safe haven and beginning anew.

    What is a refugee?

    The concept of handling refugees holds considerable social and political importance across the globe, including in the UK. The definition of who is considered a refugee is precise and grounded in both UK and global law, pointing to individuals who are compelled to flee their native countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group, or political views. This specific definition originates from the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

    Complying with its international duties, the UK upholds refugee rights and aims to offer an equitable and efficient process for asylum applications. Once granted refugee status in the UK, an individual is eligible to become a permanent resident by applying for ILR after 5 years of refugee status. This status allows the person to engage in work, pursue education, access healthcare, and receive social benefits on the same basis as UK citizens, with the added possibility of applying for citizenship later on.

    Criteria for granting permanent residency to refugees

    To be eligible for permanent residency in the UK, refugees must reside in the nation for a minimum of 5 years under their asylum status. Possessing a residence card is crucial for individuals with protected status, including those granted refugee leave to remain or those who have received humanitarian protection. Specific requirements exist for individuals with discretionary leave as well. It’s vital to scrutinize your documents closely to understand the specific conditions relevant to your situation. Should you be applying as a dependent adult relative, the criteria you must meet will differ.

    When seeking refugee settlement, it’s necessary to have spent 5 years in the UK as an asylum seeker or under humanitarian protection. The duration required changes if you possess discretionary leave to remain. For individuals who received refugee status prior to July 8, 2012, eligibility to apply for permanent residency arises after residing in the country for six years. Those who obtained authorization post this date need to have a UK residency of at least 10 years.

    When can a refugee apply for British citizenship? On this route, the main requirement is having held the settlement (ILR) status for at least 10 months before the applicant can do that.

    Can my family members apply for permanent residence with me?

    If you hold a status that provides protection (such as refugee or humanitarian protection status), or if you’ve been given a temporarily permitted stay, your family might qualify for permanent residency. For this to happen, your family must:

    • already reside within the UK;
    • have had established relationships prior to your departure from your home country.

    Should your family members not qualify for permanent residency due to their absence from the UK, they have alternative routes to reunite with you. These include:

    • applying for family reunification (if the family was created before you left your previous country);
    • applying for a family visa (if the family was established after you left your previous country).

    In this scenario, “family members” refers to your spouse, civil partner, or anyone you’ve been in a relationship with for at least two years prior to applying for reunification, as well as your children, regardless of whether they were born inside or outside the UK. You’ll need to provide specific documentation to verify your familial relationships, and this information can be discovered on the application form.

    To be eligible for stay in the UK, your family must either:

    • obtain dependant status concurrently with you when you receive protected status or conditional leave to remain, or
    • go through the family reunification process.

    Additionally, if you have a child born in the UK who isn’t a UK citizen, they may qualify to apply. You can include both your partner and any children who are younger than 18 in your application forms. If you have children older than 18, they can also be included provided they were reliant on you before reaching adulthood.

    It’s crucial to note that if your partner or dependants already possess permission to remain in the UK under a different classification or are in the country unlawfully, they will not be eligible to apply.

    How do I apply for permanent residence?

    To facilitate a seamless shift, it’s crucial to submit your application within the final month before your current UK residence permit expires. The entire application process is conducted online, and the specific form you need to fill out varies based on your unique situation. You have the flexibility to start filling out the form and save your progress to finish at a later time. As you work through the application, you will receive guidance on the necessary supporting documents. Typically, the outcome of your application will be decided within a six-month period.

    For individuals who have received protection status, like refugees or those with humanitarian protection, there is a dedicated form for this group. Should your family members, such as a spouse or children, qualify, the application will indicate if you can include them in your application.

    If inclusion in the primary application is not possible, they are required to submit individual applications.

    • For Partners – they can choose to apply in the capacity of being the partner to an individual who has been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection.
    • For Children – they have the option to apply as the child of someone who has obtained refugee status or humanitarian protection.

    For both groups, it is critical to understand that the submission of biometric data, which typically includes fingerprints and a photograph, is obligatory at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) collection point.

    Discretionary leave

    If you have discretionary leave, the application form you need to use depends on the reason for your discretionary leave.

    If you are on discretionary leave, the specific form you must complete varies depending on the grounds for your discretionary leave. Upon applying, you’ll need to schedule a session at a UK Visas and Citizenship Service (UKVCAS) center to submit your biometric details, typically including fingerprints and a photo. If your application includes your partner and children, they too must supply their biometric data. Additionally, you are required to provide necessary documents, which can either be uploaded online or scanned during your visit to a UKVCAS center.

    If your request for asylum has been denied but you’ve been given Discretionary Leave to Remain, you have the option to expedite your application for indefinite leave to remain by opting for the super priority service. This service requires an additional fee of £1,000 but ensures a decision is made within a predetermined period.

    Should your biometric appointment fall on a weekday, expect to receive the decision by the end of the following business day after your biometrics are recorded. For appointments scheduled on a weekend, the decision will be communicated within two business days post-biometric submission. Note that business days run from Monday to Friday, excluding any public holidays.

    If navigating the online form proves challenging, assistance is available for those who are not adept at using computers or mobile devices, or for individuals without internet access.

    Be aware, this expedited service is exclusively available to applicants within the UK.

    How long does it take to process an application for permanent residence in the UK?

    It’s crucial to recognize that the time taken to process an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application in the UK can differ widely based on various factors. Normally, the process might take anywhere from 6 months up to a year, although the exact duration could be different. Here are the primary factors influencing processing times:

    • Simplicity of the Case. If your case is straightforward and all the required paperwork has been accurately completed and submitted, your application is likely to be processed quicker. However, more complicated cases needing further checks could extend the processing time.
    • Number of Applications. The workload at the immigration office, indicated by the total applications received, also affects processing durations. Generally, the processing duration for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application in the UK might extend during periods of high demand, such as summer months or after significant legislative changes in immigration policy.
    • The processing time can also be influenced by the type of application, with certain categories possibly being expedited. Additionally, opting for paid expedited services when available for your application type can substantially shorten waiting periods, though at a considerable expense. The accuracy and completeness of the application also play a critical role in avoiding delays. Ensuring your application is thorough and free of errors is essential.

    To facilitate a smoother process:

    • Ensure you fully understand the requirements for your specific case and application category to assemble a comprehensive application package.
    • Consider engaging with immigration lawyers or consultants who can preemptively address potential issues and advise on optimal strategies.
    • Adhere strictly to the application guidelines to prevent hold-ups that could arise from the need for document corrections or resubmissions.

    Being aware of these elements can aid in navigating the permanent residency application journey more effectively, enabling you to manage expectations regarding the timeline of your ILR application.

    What is the application fee?

    The application fee for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK stands at £2,885 for each person applying, which includes both the primary applicant and any dependents. It’s essential to remember, though, that the UK Home Office waives these fees for refugees. As such, refugees and individuals with humanitarian protection status are exempt from paying this fee when applying for ILR.
    What should I do if my application for permanent residence in the UK is refused?

    Should your ILR application be denied, it’s crucial to understand the grounds for denial and explore all potential avenues for appeal. You possess the right to contest the decision before a dedicated immigration tribunal. Consulting with a legal expert is recommended to enhance the likelihood of a favorable result.

    How can we help?

    Applying for indefinite leave to remain as a refugee in the UK presents numerous challenges, particularly for those with refugee status. By consulting with Sterling Law, you will benefit from:

    • expert guidance from professionals who have a deep understanding of refugee and immigration law;
    • assistance in accurately and promptly gathering all required paperwork;
    • an enhanced likelihood of being granted permanent residency;
    • the ability to sidestep frequent errors which could cause your ILR application to be rejected.

    At Sterling Law, every client is important to us, and we are committed to delivering superior assistance throughout the entire ILR procedure.

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