Indefinite leave to enter is an immigration status that allows your non-British children the freedom to enter, live and work in the UK without restrictions.

You can apply for indefinite leave to enter for your minor child if you are a British citizen by descent and can’t pass your nationality on to your children. If you move to the UK before the child’s 15th birthday they will be able to spend the required three years needed to be eligible for British citizenship.

Indefinite leave to remain vs indefinite leave to enter 

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and indefinite leave to enter (ILE) are both types of immigration status that allow you to live in the UK permanently.

The difference between the two is where the person who is applying for permanent residency is applying from:

  • ILR is granted to immigrants who have already travelled to and have been in the UK for five years. After holding ILR for 12 months you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship if you meet all the other requirements. 
  • ILE is for those who are applying for permanent residence from outside the UK. In order to qualify for naturalisation as a British citizen, a child will have to spend three years in the UK and still be under 18 when they apply. If they are older than 18 (or turn 18 while in the UK) then they will need to spend a total of  five years in the UK before naturalising.

ILE and ILR holders have the same entitlement and those with ILE are not required to apply for ILR once arriving in the UK. With both of these statuses you can:

  • Work or study
  • Claim benefits 
  • Use the NHS
  • Attend school
  • Leave the UK and return as many times as you want

Requirements for indefinite leave to enter for a child

In order to apply for ILE from outside the UK for a minor child of a British citizen or settled person the child must:

  • Be under the age of 18
  • Not be leading an independent life, be in a civil partnership or have formed an independent family unit of their own
  • Be able to show that they will be accommodated and maintained adequately by their parent or relative they are joining without relying on public funds, in an accommodation owned or occupied by them exclusively

They must be joining their parent/s or relative under one of the following circumstances:

  • Both parents are present and settled in the UK, or
  • One parent is present and settled in the UK, and the other parent is deceased, or
  • One parent is present and settled in the UK and has sole responsibility for the upbringing of the child, or the child normally resides with this parent and not their other parent, or
  • One parent or a relative is present and settled in the UK, and there are “serious and compelling” family or other considerations which would make excluding the child from the UK undesirable. Suitable arrangements must have been put in place for the care of the child.

The above also applies to adopted children who were unable to gain citizenship from their adoptive British parents, however there may be a few additional requirements.

The sole responsibility clause 

Proving that you have sole responsibility for your child can be difficult if the other parent is still alive. You will have to demonstrate that the other parent has completely abdicated their parental rights and access to the child, and that they have no input in their upbringing or in making any major decisions for the child such as education or health decisions.

An issue may arise between the remaining parent and others who have day-to-day care for the child that might make proving sole responsibility difficult.

The rules for gaining ILR and ILE are complex, and the slightest mistake can be costly in time and money. Our immigration caseworkers keep up to date with the latest immigration rules and regulations and will expertly guide you through the process of gaining indefinite leave to remain or enter. 

Get in touch with them at Alternatively give them a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 5330 or +27 (0) 21 657 2180 

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