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    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

    Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK is the main long-term goal of immigrants, who wish to stay in the country. However, before you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, it is necessary to discover all the details about the procedure. The process is complex, and it is very important to do it right.

    What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

    ILR means a form of settlement that allows visitors from other countries to reside in the United Kingdom. This UK residence status removes the majority of restrictions the holders of regular visas have, and it is a vital step on the road to permanent settlement in the country. To understand what ILR is, it is better to imagine it as one of the last stages of becoming a permanent resident in the country.

    Not all visitors can submit an Indefinite leave to remain application, as it is necessary to obtain one of the eligible visas first. The list of visas that correspond to the ILR rules includes: Spouse and Unmarried Partner visas, Family permission documents, Global Talent, Innovator, Start-Up, Skilled Worker, and Sportsperson visas. In addition, it is possible to switch to this permission from the Minister of Religion, Senior and Specialist Worker, UK Ancestry, Retired Person, Long Residence, and Returning Resident rountes.

    What are the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements?

    As with any other form of settlement in the UK, there are many criteria the person has to comply with in order to obtain ILR. The first of the requirements for ILR in the UK relates to the period of residence in the country. In the majority of cases, it is necessary for the applicant to have lived at least five years legally in the country. During the period of stay, there should not be any law violations or criminal records, in order for the application to be approved.

    There are several other Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements that have to be met too. First of all, it is necessary for the person to not have been outside of the United Kingdom for more than 180 days throughout the year before applying. Secondly, the applicant will need to supply all the required documents properly. They will be reviewed in the following section. Additionally, it will be important to pass the Life in the UK test for Indefinite Leave to Remain, meet the language requirements, and pay all the corresponding fees.

    What are the ILR English language requirements?

    As mentioned in the previous section, it is necessary for the person to meet the ILR English language requirements. The corresponding test will include reading, speaking, and listening exercises, and the minimum level of knowledge should be B1. It is important to take into account that there is a fee for passing the test.

    The good news is that some people won’t have to prove their knowledge of the language:

    • senior citizens aged 65 or over;
    • those who received their higher education in English are also allowed to skip the test, but not all universities are eligible for that
    • victims of domestic abuse and people under humanitarian protection;
    • in case you’re a partner of a British citizen or of a person with a settled status who has passed out.

    Life in the UK Test for ILR

    One of the requirements relates to passing the Life in the UK test. As its name suggests, the test is designed to prove the applicant’s knowledge of the country. It includes questions about traditions, history, and British culture in general. There are twenty-four questions in the test, and it is necessary to answer at least eighteen of them correctly.

    There are many centers where you can pass this test, the full list of them is available on the website of the Home Office. In case the test is failed, there is an option to give it another try within seven days after the first attempt. The number of attempts is unlimited, although the person will have to pay the fee for each time they try it. People aged under 18 and over 65 are exempt from this test, as well as people with long-term mental conditions.

    When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

    In general, applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain is possible after 5 years of legal residence in the United Kingdom. Holders of Entrepreneur, Innovator, and Investor visas can apply after residing in the UK for three years. As long as you have an eligible visa and match with all the criteria for an ILR, you can submit an application. In some cases the minimum period may be more than five years.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain UK for dependents

    Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain is also possible for spouses and other dependents. It is also possible to apply for children aged under 18 and for children aged over 18, in case they are still financially supported by their parents. Expectedly, any dependent that is applying for this settled status is expected to match the same requirements as the main applicant.

    They will also have to pay the same fees for Indefinite Leave to Remain as the main document holder. Additionally, it will be necessary for the parents to prove their financial ability to support their children. As most dependents are applying for their visas simultaneously with the main document holder, they can also submit their ILR applications at the same time.

    Periods of absence from the UK

    When asking how to get Indefinite Leave to Remain, the applicants should bear in mind the rule of absence from the United Kingdom. The applications won’t be approved, if the person has spent more than 180 days outside of the country over the course of the year before making the submission.

    One of the IRL benefits is the absence of restrictions regarding leaving the United Kingdom, so it will be possible to travel as much as needed after obtaining the desired permission. As mentioned earlier, this rule also applies to all dependents who are making their submissions alongside the main document holder.

    Holders of this permission should also note that it may be revoked, in case the person leaves the United Kingdom for more than two years. Another situation, where the document may be revoked relates to refugees: if they are no longer considered to be refugees, the Home Office can revoke its decision. Needless to say, in case the authorities find out that the person deceived them while obtaining the ILR, the permission will be nullified as well.

    How to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

    After discovering how soon you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and ensuring all other criteria are matched, it is time to prepare for the submission. Once all the documents are prepared, the person should determine which form of application to use. There are two forms available: Form Set (M) and Form Set (O).

    The first one is used by people who are partners or children of someone who already has citizenship or settlement in the United Kingdom. The second form should be selected for all regular submissions.

    Documents required for Indefinite Leave to Remain

    Submitting the documents properly is one of the most vital steps in the entire procedure. The checklist of documents is pretty long and may vary, depending on the individual parameters of the case. First of all, it is necessary to submit the passport or other identification document with the application. For submissions with children, it will be important to include their birth certificates or documents regarding adoption.

    According to the 180 days requirement, the applicants should also submit all the documents containing the information regarding their travels in order to prove they match this criterion. Similarly, people should be ready to include the history of their immigration. For the ILR itself, two photographs of the standard size should be included.

    The people will also have to prove they match all the other requirements. For the financial rule, they will need to add bank statements and other documents proving their sustainability. For the language knowledge criterion, it is necessary to submit the certificate, given out by one of the centers. The same applies to the Life in the UK test. Lastly, there might be some additional case-specific documents required for the application.

    How long does an ILR application take?

    Aside from the five years that have to be legally spent in the country, people will need to wait throughout the processing time for their ILR application. The standard procedure implies receiving a decision within six months after submitting the application. In case it is an urgent matter, it is possible to pay an extra fee to speed up the process.

    For £500, it is possible to have the application reviewed within five working days, while for a fee of £800, the decision will be made within two working days. Of course, in case some documents were submitted incorrectly, the process may take longer than the standard time frame.

    How much does Indefinite Leave to Remain cost?

    As mentioned in the previous sections, there are multiple fees associated with this permission. For those wondering what the ILR application fee is, it equals £2,389 per person. Secondly, there is the healthcare surcharge associated with the majority of permission documents that also applies to Indefinite Leave to Remain. This fee is £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children aged under 18.

    The additional fees associated with the process relate to the tests that have to be passed by the applicant. The English language and the Life in the UK tests are paid, which has to be taken into account. Moreover, the Home Office will have to gather biometric data of each applicant, which is performed for a fee of around £20 per person. Lastly, in case the person decides to purchase a priority service for reviewing their application quickly, they will have to pay the corresponding fee as well.

    What can I do if my Indefinite Leave to Remain application is refused?

    The ILR to citizenship route is rather difficult. Unfortunately, some applications get refused, and there are many possible reasons for such a situation. The Home Office will inform you about them, but it is always better to ensure you’re fully eligible before submitting the application.

    The most common reason for refusals relates to not meeting some of the requirements associated with the permission. Another common issue that gets the submissions denied relates to failing to submit all the documents or failing to submit them correctly. Having a criminal record or being previously excluded from the United Kingdom will also result in a negative decision on issuing ILR.

    Another reason for refusing the application is violation of immigration laws by the person. In case the Home Office asks for additional information and the person is unable to provide it, their application is also likely to be denied. If the Home Office discovers that the marriage or civil relationships between the applicants were ingenuine, the result will be the same. Lastly, the Home Office may decide that issuing ILR in a specific case might be harmful for the public good, but it is a very rare scenario.

    The good news is that the negative decision is not irrevertible. In case there was a simple error in the application, and the person did not violate any laws and genuinely matches the requirements, they will be able to apply again. In case the application was denied unfairly, it is possible to appeal against the decision. In such a situation, it is vital to get professional Indefinite Leave to Remain guidance, in order to develop a viable strategy.

    How we can help?

    The solicitors at Sterling Law are always ready to help those who desire to settle in the UK. Our professional lawyers will provide all the guidance and assistance on the route from Indefinite Leave to Remain to citizenship in the United Kingdom. We are willing to provide help on any stage of the process, starting with the first permission document to visit the country and ending with challenging a negative decision of the Home Office.

    Sterling Law has a rich experience in the immigration field with hundreds of successful cases in our portfolio. Our office is located in London, but it is also possible to have a consultation online. Contact us to have your case reviewed and maximize your chances of being approved.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

    ILR is a type of settlement status in the UK that allows individuals to live and work in the country without any time restrictions or immigration-related conditions.

    What are the benefits of having ILR?

    Having ILR allows an individual to stay and work in the UK without any time restrictions. It also provides a path to naturalisation, which would allow an individual to apply for British citizenship.

    Who can apply for ILR?

    Individuals who have lived in the UK legally for a certain period of time may be eligible to apply for ILR. The eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of visa the individual currently holds.

    How long do I need to have lived in the UK before applying for ILR?

    The amount of time an individual needs to have lived in the UK before applying for ILR varies depending on the type of visa they hold. In general, individuals on most work visas need to have lived in the UK for five continuous years before they can apply for ILR.

    What are the requirements for ILR?

    The eligibility criteria for ILR differ based on an individual’s specific circumstances. Typically, the requirements include having resided in the UK for a specific duration, adhering to immigration regulations, maintaining a clean criminal record, and fulfilling the English language proficiency and knowledge of life in the UK conditions.

    How long does it take to get ILR?

    The processing time for ILR applications in the UK can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the workload of the UK Home Office. Typically, it can take up to six months to receive a decision on an ILR application.

    Does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is named “indefinite” because it has no expiration date. However, an individual may lose their ILR status if they leave the UK for a continuous period of over two years, or if they engage in certain criminal offenses or fraud during the ILR application process. It is crucial to note that while ILR does not expire, it is still necessary to sustain its validity by complying with the requirements and regulations of the visa category.

    Can ILR be revoked?

    Yes, ILR can be revoked if the individual is found to have breached immigration rules or has committed a criminal offence.

    Can ILR holders travel outside the country?

    Yes, ILR holders can travel outside the country, but they must ensure that they have a valid passport and meet any entry requirements for the destination country.

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