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Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 18 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
Applying For Indefinite Leave To Remain In The Uk

Some foreign nationals who have been in the UK with permission for a certain amount of time will be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If an applicant is given indefinite leave to remain they have the right of permanent residence in the UK – this is also known as settlement.

Foreign nationals will usually have to have been in the UK continuously for between two to five years before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Whether or not they are eligible will depend on the type of visa under which they were given permission to come to the UK.

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

Applicants will usually have to show that they have an appropriate knowledge of the English language and of UK culture. Applications should not be made more than 28 days before the end of the period for which they have permission to be in the UK but must be made before that period ends. Application forms, and guidance notes on completing them, can be downloaded from the UK border Agency website.

Applications Based on UK Family Ties

Applications by married, or unmarried, partners and those in civil partnerships should be made using form SET(M). Applicants must have lived in the UK with permission for two years and still be married. A joint application for dependent children under 18 may be made on the same form. Applicants whose spouse or civil partner has died may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(O) and there is no minimum qualifying period of residence.

Victims of domestic abuse can apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(DV). To be granted indefinite leave to remain they must have come to the UK, with permission, as the partner of a UK resident. The applicant must also have been in the UK for a period of two years during which time the relationship broke down due to domestic violence.

Other family members may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(F). This form is for applications by children under 18 as well as parents, grandparents and other dependent family members of UK residents. Applicants in this category cannot include their own dependents on the form.

Applications based on UK ancestry should be made using form SET(O).

Applications by Workers

Whether or not someone in the UK on a work permit or visa is entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain will depend on the type of visa they have. Foreign citizens on the following types of work visas may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after they have been in the UK continuously for five years:
  • Highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors or Tier 1 under the new points-based system which is being introduced from 2008 onwards;
  • Sponsored skilled workers (Tier 2 under the new system).
Applications for indefinite leave to remain by those in the above categories should be made using form SET(O).

Applications by EU Citizens

Citizens of EU countries who have lived in the UK continuously for five years may apply for confirmation of permanent residence using form EEA3.

Applicants from Turkey

Turkish citizens who set up a business in the UK pursuant to the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form ECAA Turkey (Main) after they have been in the UK for four years. Their dependent family may apply using form ECAA Turkey (Dep).

Applicants from Bulgaria and Romania

Bulgarian and Romanian citizens who came to the UK under the terms of the ECAA to set up a business may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form ECAA(4), which is also sometimes referred to as ECAA(ILR), once they have been in the UK for five years. The ECAA ceased to apply to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania once these countries joined the EU in January 2007 but applications may still be made under this category by people who came to the UK prior to that date.

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@Oli - If your husband is a British citizen you can apply for British citizenship immediately after being granted ILR.
TJ. - 18-Feb-18 @ 8:05 AM
Hi I was granted Discretionary Leave to remain in 2011 based on my private life built in the U.K and having grown up here as a child and all my family being here. I got married in 2014 but I remained on the same route. I now have my settlement in the U.K after completeing 2 x 3 years on discretionary leave private life. I want to know if am I eligible to apply for British citizen through naturalisation as my husband is British even though I was not granted my stay on that basis.
Oli - 18-Feb-18 @ 1:21 AM
I got to apply ILR this month. I came to UK with spouse visa 2012 December 28th. I applied further leave to remain 2015 August as married to British citizen. My wife divorced in 70's. I showed mariage certificate and her divorce absolute as parts of documents last time. Section 12C of SET(M) indicates "If you were last granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom as an unmarried or same-sex partner and subsequently during your probationary period you have married or entered a civil partnership with your partner, in addition to the relevant documents in 12A and 12B you must provide the following documents.". On the other hand Section 2.23 says "You must provide original copies of divorce, decree absolute or overseas equivalent, or final order of dissolution of civil partnership.". Should I show divorce absolute?
Gokuraku - 8-Feb-18 @ 3:38 PM
I have been in the UK on a dependent spouse visa since 2011. My wife got her ILR in 2017. My current visa expires in 2019. Can i apply for ILR? Please advise Jay
Jayzee - 3-Feb-18 @ 10:59 PM
@MUG - You should be able to apply for ILR using Application Form DL if you were granted discretionary leave to remain following refusal of your asylum claim and in any other case the Application Form SET (O)
TJ. - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:14 PM
@Shy13utterfly - If you meet the requirements now, you may be able to apply for the family visa as a spouse under the 5 year route. This will not be an extension of your existing visa but a new visa.
TJ. - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:11 PM
Hello, I was granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK. I have completed the six years now, it expires next month please what form can I use to apply for my indefinite leave to remain? Although my husband and four children are British citizens
MUG - 2-Feb-18 @ 12:00 PM
Hi TJ. How can I switch it to 5 years? And will the fee be the same as my extension. Thank you so much.
Shy13utterfly - 2-Feb-18 @ 7:40 AM
@shy13utterfly - If your visa was granted under the 10 year route you will only qualify for ILR after 10 years of living in the UK
TJ. - 2-Feb-18 @ 5:53 AM
Hi. I arrive here in the UK December 2013. I was issued a dicretionary leave in 2014. I recently applied to renewed my visa for a partners visa last 2017 for 5 year route but was granted a 10 year route last December 2017. The only reason was the English laguage test was not met. I am not aware that the english test changes and now required a SELT exam. I wasn’t able to take the new one because my passport is with home office and that’s the only proof of ID I can show for the language test. Cut it short they just made the decision without the exam thats why I was granted 10 year route. My question is on July of 2020 the time my visa will expire can I just apply for an indefinite leave to remain by making sure I met all the requirement. Or am I now tie up on a 10 year route and have to complete my 10 years of living here in the UK. TIA
shy13utterfly - 1-Feb-18 @ 11:17 PM
Hi there I came to UK in november 2012 on a study visa got married to a Romanianguy in january 2015 got my visa eea visa for five years in November 2017. Am I eligibleto apply for a British citizenship card or not please reply me what to do next Thanks
Sairah - 31-Jan-18 @ 8:16 PM
@Arif - Because your wife applied for British citizenship, your status as the spouse of an EU citizen has become complicated. However since by 2019 you would have lived in the UK for 10 years you should apply for ILR and once this is approved you can apply for British citizenship immediately afterwards.
TJ. - 28-Jan-18 @ 1:07 AM
Hi, I came to UK in 2009 August on student Visa. In 2012 got married.In 2014 got my EU family member visa for 5 years.That time my wife was from Lithuania.In 2017 November my wife got British Passport and my visa will expire in 2019 January. Please advise what would be a way for me of getting new visa and when i can apply for naturalisation as a British. Is the fact that my wife became british can change my circumstances and the way of applying for different ways of extending my visa. Appreciate your help.Thank you in advance!
Arif - 27-Jan-18 @ 12:21 PM
@Kenneth - You can only apply for ILR after 5 years if you have lived in the UK on a particular visa. You will have to apply for a family visa as a spouse before expiry of your current visa and you will be eligible for ILR in 2023 either through this visa or the 10 year long residence route.
TJ. - 22-Jan-18 @ 3:55 AM
I am a dependent of a settled person (indefinite leave to remain) . My immigration summary as below. i am a non EU passport holder. Entered in UK in Apr 2013 as a dependent of a Post study VISA holder. Then i have changed my VISA status as dependent of a TIER 1 Entrepreneur VISA holder, Then i changed my VISA status a dependent of a TIER 2 General VISA holder. All the above dependent visa are with the same main applicant (my wife). Now main applicant (my wife) now got indefinite leave to remain in Nov 2017. She got it through 10 years long residence route. My current VISA is expiring in May 2018. As i am completing 5 years in UK in April 2018 as a dependent of a person currently settled in UK. Am i entitled to apply for settlement in UK ? (indefinite leave to remain).
Kenneth - 21-Jan-18 @ 10:55 PM
@Atnes - You can apply for ILR after living in the UK 5 years legally on your spouse visa if you applied under the 5 year route.
TJ. - 18-Jan-18 @ 2:28 PM
Hello. I came here in uk as a spouse visa. I will be 5 years on this coming dec. 14, 2018 but my visa will expire on march 2019. When is the best to apply for ilr? When is the 28 days apply?thanks for your help
Atnes - 17-Jan-18 @ 6:42 PM
@Sus - You should find out the reasons that your visa application is being refused and work on them. Alternatively your child can visit you in your home country if possible.
TJ. - 14-Jan-18 @ 1:54 PM
Hello . i was lived in uk 11 years.and i was in relasion with biritish citizen i had son how is desalebal my relationship was brokeni was forced to leave uk to alger my back hom from that times i try to apply for visa to meet my son but !? It was refuse. What i shall do any one can advise me thanks .
Sus - 13-Jan-18 @ 7:01 PM
@NRus - The grace period to remain in the UK is 14 days after visa expiry. To apply for ILR one must be legally present in the UK for at least 5 years before making the application.
TJ. - 10-Jan-18 @ 2:45 AM
My wife was first granted TIER 1 PBS dependant visa on 26th February 2013 in India, valid until 08-02-2015, and she joined me in UK on 7th March 2013. She than extended her stay on the same visa on 07-02-2015 and is valid until 07-02-2018. She is planning to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by applying in person on 07-02-2018. As the grace period to apply for ILR is 28 days before the complete stay of 5 years. Is she eligible to apply for ILR as she will be in UK for exactly 4 years 11 months
NRus - 9-Jan-18 @ 10:42 PM
@Ummenoor - For an ILR application to be approved under the 5 year route you must have been legally present in the UK under a particular visa throughout the 5 year period. Overstaying your current visa by more than 14 days will lead to an automatic refusal.
TJ. - 9-Jan-18 @ 11:27 AM
Hi ! I am due for my ILR from 1st feburary as five years will complete on 28th of feb this year. But my recent visa is expiring on 13th of january. Do i still have to apply for extension only if it's just a couple of weeks?
Ummenoor - 8-Jan-18 @ 10:58 PM
@Akou- If your children are British citizens they are not included in the financial requirement for a family visa.
TJ. - 8-Jan-18 @ 9:21 AM
@dyana- You can leave the UK but you will not be able to return without a valid visa or leave to remain.
TJ. - 8-Jan-18 @ 9:20 AM
Hello i leavde in uk 5 years route as family spouse visa as partner british citizen. And i have tow children how is british born in uk my questions is dose my children meet the finacial recretment with or not include. The 18.600 year's.
Akou - 7-Jan-18 @ 11:41 PM
hello i live in uk for 10 years i have a spouse visa of EEA national and i applied for permanent residency in end of July, i didn't have any response and my visa expire now. Can i still travel abroad with the letter showing that i applied??
dyana - 7-Jan-18 @ 9:23 PM
@Fella Koucha - You can apply for ILR once you have lived in the UK on a family visa as a spouse for 5 years under the normal route
TJ. - 2-Jan-18 @ 11:20 AM
Hello i lived in uk from January2013 with visa 33 month after that i had others33 month but in this January i will close 5 year. When i can aplly for permanent visa as soupouse of British citizens . my second. Residence expires on jun2018 on total i have 6 month extra. Then 5 years on total5. Y and 6 month
Fella koucha - 1-Jan-18 @ 9:44 PM
Said1 - Your Question:

Our Response:
You must tell the Home Office when you divorce or separate from your partner if your visa is based on your relationship. You must then either apply for a new visa or leave the UK, please see the link here.
AboutImmigration - 11-Dec-17 @ 3:21 PM
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