Indefinite leave to remain | How to Apply, Eligibility, Documents & Processing Time
Indefinite Leave to Remain abbreviated as ILR is a document that proves that the bearer has been granted immigration status after living in the UK for some time under temporary visa. For you to be granted this status, you must have shown your commitment to the UK. It is also known as the UK settlement visa and this document is also a preserve to those with no right of abode in the UK. With this document, you can now enjoy life in the UK without any limitations of time; you can study, work or do any other thing without restrictions just like any other citizen. With this status, you can also leave or enter the UK any time you wish.
For you to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as an international, you must apply when already in the UK and you must show proof that you’ve been in the country for some time under one of the other visas.
Who qualifies for the Indefinite Leave to Remain(ILR)?
There are specific categories of people that the Home office grants this status. This is after they have fulfilled several criteria including having legally resided in the UK for quite some time. Following are some of the categories;
Ancestry visa holders: These must have lived in the UK for not less than five years.
Spouses under a marriage visa: The marriage visa, in this case, must have been obtained on or after the 9th of July 2012 and one needs to have stayed in the UK for not less than five years.
Work permit visa: This is granted to those who come to the UK for work and they must have worked in the country for at least five years.
Who is eligible for ILR?
Even if you qualify for an Indefinite Leave to Remain under the above and many more categories, there are a few reasons one may not be eligible for ILR; If you have spent most of your five years outside the UK, you have failed to pay taxes as required by the law, or you have submitted your application way before time. Again, you will be locked out if you don’t submit all the required documents, you have a negative immigration history or you have been convicted for at least two years of your stay in the UK.
When do you apply for ILR?
When applying for ILR, you must do so before the expiry of the existing UK visa. Again, this should not be done twenty-eight days before the expiry period and if you do, your application may be declined, you lose the fee and when reapplying, you will have to pay again.
The ILR application form
You will be required to fill a SET (M) or a SET (O) form and this depends on the visa you have been staying while in the UK. For clarity, you should use a black pen, the addresses and names should be written in capital letters. The personal history section should be filled and do not leave any blanks. The application form contains information that is in the required documents.
Applying as a partner of someone settled in the UK
When applying for ILR as a partner of a person settled in the UK, you will need to use the SET (M) form and you can add children under eighteen as dependants. To qualify for this, you must have stayed with the partner for not less than five years. You will also be required to provide proof that you have met the financial requirement of a minimum of £18,600. This will be calculated in terms of the income from your sponsor, you and your sponsor’s pensions, any salary that you receive from the UK and cash savings of over £16,000.
What documents do you require to apply for ILR?
You will be required to submit two passport size photos with your name at the back of each, a passport photo with your partner’s name written at the back, and any children or dependents that you may have. You will so be required to present original documents and not photocopies. Any document that is not in the English language should be translated into English or Welsh. Get photocopies of the first and the last pages of your passport and the pages with visa stamps. You will also be required to have proficiency in the English language and knowledge of life in the UK.
What is the UK Indefinite Leave to Remain Fees?
Indefinite Leave to Remain is not processed for free; there are costs that you have to meet. The cumulative fee as at 2019 is £2,389 but this is bound to change from time to time and therefore you need to confirm with the home office before you are in the process of application, that may include the documents translation fees, English language test, solicitors’ fees etc. In addition to other costs, you will be required to pay for the “Life in the UK” test which is part of your documents.
The entry requirements
When applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must have stayed in the UK for not less than five years and during those years, you must have complied fully with the requirements of your visa. The five year period in question includes the time that you got your visa or given permission to live in the UK. Again, this period must be without gaps- you must show proof that you have stayed in this country continuously-Your Indefinite Leave to Remain may be declined by the Home Office if gaps are exceeding a certain period.
The processing period
The processing of the Indefinite Leave to Remain can take up to six months and during this time, you will need to surrender your passport. Within this period, you will be informed whether your application was successful and if not, then you will get guidance on what to do.
Again, you can book for a priority appointment with the Home Office (at some fee) for 24 hours decision. Most people especially ones that are not willing to go through the entire procedure opt for this method. It’s worth noting that application for an Indefinite Leave to Remain varies greatly depending on the visa that you are currently in.
If your application is unsuccessful
When applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain, you should be ready for any decision and if your documents don’t measure up to the required criteria, it could be declined. Now, this should not shock you. The best decision here is to apply for an extension of stay for two years, this will give you ample time to fully comply with the requirements of the Indefinite Leave to Remain and then you can reapply.
British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain
British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain(ILR) are two different things. Although the two have some common requirements, you should not confuse them. The Indefinite leave to remain allows you to “settle” in the UK and with this status, you no longer are subject to the Immigration controls-that means you can enter and exit the country any time you wish.
Once you have lived in the UK under the ILR status, you can now apply for British citizenship, also known as “natu
ralization”. This gives you the rights to own British passport with full rights of a UK citizen.
To successfully apply for the British citizenship you will need to satisfy the following;
You must have stayed in the UK under the ILR status for at least twelve months, however, if you are married to a British citizen, you don’t have to wait for that long, and you can apply immediately.
You should also meet the residency requirements; you should not spend more than ninety days outside the UK in any twelve months or four hundred and fifty days during your five years of stay in the UK preceding the date of application.
Most importantly, you must meet the “good character” requirement. During your stay, you must have demonstrated respect for the rights and freedoms an enshrined in the constitution of the UK and followed the laws to the letter.
Applying for the Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, you will need to follow the laid down procedure. It might be tricky to do so if it is your first time and that’s why you may need one of reliable UK visa and Indefinite Leave to Remain specialist solicitor to take you through the process and ensure that you apply successfully.