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Indefinite leave to remain

UK permanent residency, or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), allows you to remain in the UK for an indefinite period.

Live and work in the UK for an indefinite period

ILR is a form of UK permanent residency and allows you to work in the UK while also allowing you to exit and re-enter the country with no restrictions.

You may apply for indefinite leave to remain under any of the following circumstances:

  • After three years on the Innovator visa 
  • For the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, the size of your investment will affect this time frame ranging from two to five years 
  • After five continuous years on a spousal visa
  • Shortly prior to the expiry of a five-year Ancestry visa
  • After having held work permit status in the UK for five years
  • After spending five continuous years as a dependant (married partner, unmarried partner, child under 18 or under 18 when first applied) under the points-based system
  • After spending five continuous years in the UK as a writer, composer or artist
  • After spending five continuous years in the UK as a retired person of independent means
  • After legally staying 10 continuous years in the UK

The criteria for applying for ILR in the UK are:

Note: You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you are over the age of 65 or are unable to because of a long-term physical or mental condition. 

Meeting the continuous residence requirement

You must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period in the last five years. This requirement works on a rolling basis, which means that the 12-month period doesn’t necessarily have to be a calendar year – it can be any consecutive 12 months.

Income requirements

The income requirements are not one specific set amount but are determined by the visa category one is on and employment status. The amount needed depends on whether you are using a certain employment category or if you are using other sources like cash savings, investments or pension income etc. 

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Applying for Indefinite leave to remain


What documents do you need to apply for ILR:

  • Your current, valid passport or other valid travel ID
  • Your biometric residence permit, if you have been given one
  • All passports that you have held during your time in the UK

Additional documents will also be required, depending on the type of visa you currently have. For example:

  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of continuous residence
  • Documents relating to absences during your qualifying period
  • Proof of English language ability if not doing the language test
  • Evidence of cohabiting residence if applying with a spouse or partner visa
  • Life in UK test results and English language proof
  • If dependants are applying with you, you will need documents for them (e.g. birth certificates)
  • * Documents not in English or Welsh must be submitted with a certified translation.

Let our immigration specialists help

Fees for applying for indefinite leave to remain in 2021

CategoryCurrent fee
Indefinite leave to remain £ 2,389
Biometric enrolment £ 19.20
Life in the UK test £ 50

There are additional costs if you want to use the priority processing service.

Under normal circumstances, the application can take up to six months to be processed.

When to start your ILR application 

There are a number of complexities when it comes to ILR applications. Our immigration experts can help to guide you through the entire process and make sure your application is successful. We recommend you contact us three months before your current visa expires.

Losing your ILR status

There are a few reasons that could lead to the loss of your indefinite leave to remain status. It could be revoked if you commit an offence that leads to your deportation. 

If you leave the country for a period of two continuous years or more, it is usually determined that you are no longer present and settled and your indefinite leave to remain status can be revoked.

Applying for British citizenship after indefinite leave to remain

After spending 12 months on indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen and gain UK citizenship, as well as your British passport.

Naturalisation in the UK

There are different ways to become a British citizen. You may apply for citizenship through either naturalisation or registration in the UK.

General criteria for naturalisation:

  • You must have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • You must have resided in the UK for five years

Naturalisation and registration for British citizenship

It is possible to become a British citizen by naturalisation or registration. Generally, naturalisation as a British citizen will occur after attaining ILR and then residing for a qualifying period of time in the UK.

To qualify for naturalisation when married to a British Citizen, you are required to:

  • Have been in the UK for five years on any legal visa status and have ILR on the date of application
  • Not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days in those three years
  • Not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the immediate 12 months before the application
  • Be of good character
  • Pass the British citizenship test/Life in the UK Test
  • Have sufficient knowledge of English
  • Be over 18 years old

As a married partner, you can apply for naturalisation immediately after receiving ILR.

To qualify for naturalisation if you are not married to a British Citizen, you must:

  • Have been in the UK for the last five years and hold ILR for at least the last 12 months
  • Have been present in the UK on the date five years prior to the application being received by the Nationality Directorate
  • Not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days in that period
  • Not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 months before your ILR application
  • Be of good character
  • Pass the British citizenship test/Life in the UK Test
  • Have sufficient knowledge of English
  • Be over 18 years old

Speak to one of our consultants about how we can help you to naturalise.

Conditions for naturalisation in the UK

Once your naturalisation application is approved, you will be invited to attend a British citizenship ceremony. This ceremony will take place in your local council area in the UK only. Once you have done this, you will be eligible to submit an application for a British passport.

Registration requirements

British citizenship can also be obtained by registration. For example, If you were born between 7 February 1961 and 1 January 1983 and your mother was born in the UK, you will qualify for registration as a British citizen straight away.

If you were born prior to 7 February 1961, you will only be eligible to hold right of abode. Once you have resided in the UK for five continuous years on the right of abode status, you will be eligible to naturalise under the five-year rule.

UK Status Trace

If you were born in a country that is different to that of a parent or grandparent, or you have a UK-born ancestor, then it is possible that you have a claim to British nationality.

The problem for most of our clients is how to find the information to determine whether they have this claim. We offer a service that will enable you to find out if you (or your family) are eligible. We are specialists in British nationality claims and offer a Status Trace service to those who are struggling to find out whether they have a claim to British nationality.

The process involves an examination of your nationality documents (birth and marriage certificates, as well as old passports and other documents that may have a bearing on your nationality status) and takes the form of a multi-page report written by our team of nationality experts.

If there is any doubt as to whether you or your family could qualify for British nationality, we will give you a definitive answer.

UK long residency concession

To get this status, you will have had at least 20 years' continuous residence in the UK. There are however, several caveats to this, so read through the information below and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the long residency concession.

These cases can be quite sensitive. Our experienced team will handle your application with the highest degree of professionalism and discretion.

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Long residency concession requirements

The 20-year period excludes any period spent in the UK following service of notice of liability to removal or notice of a decision to remove.

There is no requirement to have held a valid UK visa. In other words, time spent in the UK may include illegal residency

Once you have received this concession, you can obtain a two-and-a-half-year residency visa, which you can renew three times (i.e. hold for a total of 10 years). At the end of the 10 years, you can then apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Someone who is aged over 18 but under 25 and has lived in the UK continuously for half their life can also apply under this route. As above, they will be given four sets of leave to remain for two and a half years. Once they have had leave to remain for 10 years they can apply for indefinite leave to remain.


Speak to one of our consultants about how we can help you to naturalise.

Discretionary leave to remain in the UK

A person who resides in the UK but is not entitled to a visa may apply for Discretionary Leave to remain. Such leave is temporary and usually claimed on the basis of protection of human rights.

Let us help you remain in the UK

Recently, the scope of this status has been expanded and is now available under a variety of similar circumstances.

Every case is unique and finding a resolution requires an in-depth look at your unique set of circumstances. An application will rely on evidence that the applicant’s deportation from the UK will infringe on their human rights.

The most common situations are:

  • A child who was born in the UK
  • A child who has been resident in the UK for at least seven years
  • An adult who is married to a British citizen or a person who has UK permanent residency status in the UK*
  • An adult who has established a family life in the UK

* Such as the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain

When can you apply for indefinite leave to remain?

If granted discretionary leave after 9 July 2012, you will be required to wait until you have held discretionary leave to remain for 10 continuous years prior to applying for indefinite leave to remain.

Our experienced team specialise in these kinds of complex cases. If you have discretionary leave to remain, or need to apply for it, please do not hesitate to contact us. All communications are strictly confidential.

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