How to Get Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

Looking to stay in the United Kingdom forever? You can apply for this if you have stayed in the UK for a minimum of 5 years. If successful, you’ll then get to live in the UK without any restrictions and this is your first step towards moving to the UK permanently. Here are the most important things to be aware of:

Main requirements

The general requirements for an ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) are as follows:

  1. There should be no criminal record or immigration rules broken during the stay.
  2. Time spent outside the UK should not be more than 180 days per year while in the qualifying period.
  3. A test (Life in the UK) based on history, culture and traditions of the British must be passed.
  4. Language proof that you meet the B1 Level of English should be given.

Scotland shouldn’t be overlooked when decided where to live in the UK


There are certain people that are granted UK citizenship without an ILR visa UK. These include:

  1. Individuals eligible for British citizenship through descent or other forms of the same category.
  2. British citizens or the dependent child of someone who is settled in the United Kingdom.
  3. Gateway Protection Program refugees who are settled in the United Kingdom.

Different routes to obtain ILR

There are so many reasons why living in the UK is good idea, so if you’ve got your heart set on it but don’t meet the criteria above, don’t worry. There are other ways to acquire ILR with different visas. The visas which can allow ILR status include:

Spouse visa, returning resident visa, unmarried partner visa, long residence visa, family visa, retired person visa, global talent visa, UK ancestry visa, investor visa (Tier 1), specialist or senior worker visa, innovator visa, minister of religion visa (T2), start-up visa, sportsperson visa (T2) and skilled worker visa.

If you have any of these then you may be exempt from the main requirements above.

Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, just one of the many places enjoyed by London residents

Getting ILR after or before 5 years

Before you start dreaming of spending the rest of your life down in sunny Cornwall or up on the coasts of Northumberland, you should know exactly how long you need to have been in residence before applying for ILR.

To apply for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom, you must complete a minimum time threshold of 5 years before you are eligible for the application. However, depending on certain situations, you can apply for ILR before your five years is up. The different types of visa categories are listed below:

After 5 Years

The visas that require at least five years of stay in the United Kingdom include: UK ancestry visa, spouse visa, skilled worker visa, unmarried partner visa, long-term work visa, and the family visa.

Before 5 Years

The visas that do not require a minimum of five years of stay in the United Kingdom include: investor visa (tier 1), innovator visa, global talent visa, and entrepreneur visa. However, do note that the entrepreneur visa is no longer in operation.

The innovator visa allows ILR after three years based on business achievements and the global talent visa recipients are also eligible after three years if the last confirmation was presented under “exceptional promise or talent” or “UK research and innovation fast track”. Meanwhile, the investor visa holders are eligible for ILR after two or three years based on their business performance and activities.


After a four-year period of stay in the United Kingdom, a commonwealth citizen who served in the British Armed Forces is eligible to apply for ILR. Whereas, cases such as individuals living under the form of Long Residence will require at least ten years of time threshold if they are above 18 years, and seven years if they are under 18 to be eligible for ILR.

Portloe on the Roseland Heritage Coast in Cornwall

Cornwall is a popular place to live in the UK

British citizenship and English language test

To apply for ILR, you must provide a B1 English language proficiency in speaking and listening as specified by Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Citizens from countries including: USA, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Canada, Ireland, Grenada, New Zealand and Jamaica might be exempted from submitting English language proof.

Other people who are exempt include domestic abuse victims; individuals under humanitarian protection; people holding a degree or higher qualification of an accredited educational institute taught in the English language; seniors above 65 years of age; and a spouse or partner of a person that died as a British citizen.

A score of at least 75% is required in the British Citizenship Test which consists of 24 questions that need to be solved within 45 minutes. If you fail, you can reappear after seven days and individuals aged 65 or above and 18 or under are exempt from this test. If someone is given a long-term physical or mental condition confirmation from their doctor, they are usually exempted too.

Large castle on top of rocky mound

It’s important to know your history when taking the citizenship test

Form, Processing Time and Fees

You will need to apply for Form Set (M) or Form Set (O) to get ILR. The former is for someone applying as a partner, parent or spouse of someone already residing in the UK. The latter is for individuals with visas pertaining to skilled workers, investors, global talents, long-term workers and PBS dependents, or those with a UK ancestry visas 

It usually takes around six months for the application to be fully processed and the current fees for 2022 is £2,389 for each applicant. You will also need an additional £19.20 to register your biometrics. If it is a family visa then all dependants will need to pay the same fees and if priority processing or super-priority processing is required to progress the application in five working days then an additional £500 or £800 will be applied, respectively.

We are not lawyers and you should always seek legal advice when applying for indefinite leave to remain. 

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