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Indefinite leave to remain in the UK

Permanent residency, or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), allows you to remain in the UK for an indefinite period. The main condition of this status is that you can prove you intend
to remain present and settled in the UK.

Live and work in the UK for an indefinite period

ILR is a form of 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 ILR under any of the following circumstances:

  • 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
  • Once having legally spent a continuous 10 years in the UK
  • Once having spent a continuous five years in the UK as an investor
  • Once having spent a continuous five years as a dependant (married partner, unmarried partner, child under 18 or under 18 when first applied) under the points-based system
  • Once having spent a continuous five years in the UK as a writer, composer or artist
  • Once having spent a continuous five years in the UK as a retired person of independent means

The criteria for applying for ILR are:

  • You must pass the “Life in the UK Test”
  • You must pass an English language test

Applying for British citizenship

After spending 12 months on ILR, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen and gain UK citizenship. Read through our section on British naturalisation.

Losing your ILR status

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


Contact our immigration team

Phone us (SA): +27 (0) 21 657 2180

Phone us (UK): +44 (0) 20 7759 7580

South Africa

Cape Town
Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708
t: +27 (0) 21 657 2120

201 The Annex
Ridgeside Office Park
t: +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom

Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
t: +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
t: +44 (0) 20 7759 7581


Suite 8.06
9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
Melbourne VIC 3141
t: +613 (0) 86 514 500

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