ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain

The rules on settlement has changed dramatically on 9 July 2012.

Indefinite leave to remain is granted in the UK (out of country applications to the same effect are called applications for settlement). Once this status is granted, the migrant becomes “settled”, which means there are no restrictions on the duration of the permissible stay, the right to work or the right to rely on public assistance.

Indefinite leave to remain is normally granted to the following categories of migrants:

  • spouses or unmarried partners of British citizens or persons settled in the UK on completion of a five year probation period;
  • migrant workers who have completed five years continuous residence in one, or a combination of, eligible categories;
  • investors and entrepreneurs who may qualify for accelerated settlement after two or three years depending on the level of investment, or after five years ordinarily;
  • those who do not qualify under any specific route but have lived lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of ten years;
  • those who have lived in the UK continuously for 20 years independently of legality of their stay but provided no removal directions have been made during the 20 year period.

Dependent spouse or unmarried partner of a migrant worker in an eligible category is eligible to apply for settlement at the same time as the principle applicant, provided they have lived together in the UK for not less than two years. Children are normally eligible to apply at the same time as their parents.

All applicants for indefinite leave to remain should pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test, and meet good character requirements (that is, have no unspent convictions, including traffic offences). Other requirements differ from category to category.

Indefinite leave to remain would normally lapse after two years of absence from the UK.

Indefinite leave to remain may be revoked in cases of serious criminal offences.

One of the important benefits of settlement is that children born to a parent settled in the UK are British citizens by birth. Children born before either of the parents is settled can get registered as British citizens as soon as at least one of the parents acquires settled status.


An application for ILR must be submitted to the UK Border Agency prior to an applicant’s permission expiring.

Applications can be submitted either through the postal system which will take a minimum of 13 weeks to process during which time the applicant’s passport must remain with the UKBA (unless required by another UK Government department or the individual’s diplomatic mission), or, through UKBA’s ‘Fast Track’ same day service for which a premium application fee is payable.

RLegal have a number of fast track slots available to assist clients with the same day service.

Returning residents
Please note that ILR status can be lost if an individual remains out of the UK for more than 2 years on a single occasion or when it appears that an individual only spends short periods of time to retain their status and does not appear to have made the UK their principal home. This is known as the ‘returning residents’ rule.


You should lodge your application one month before the completion of the qualifying period.