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What are the 5-year and 10-year Routes to Settlement?

The 5-year and 10-year routes to settlement enable foreign nationals who have lived in the UK for a qualifying period to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The 5-year route to settlement is the most commonly used pathway to ILR and is available to individuals on a wide range of qualifying visas (e.g. family visas, work visas, and business visas). The 10-year route to settlement, also referred to as “long residence”, allows a foreign national to gain ILR even if they have not necessarily held a qualifying settlement visa but they have lived lawfully in the UK for at least 10 years.

What is the difference between the 5-year and 10-year routes?

Under the 5-year route to settlement, applicants must have held certain qualifying visas (e.g. spouse visa) in the 5 years before they apply for ILR. With the 10-year route, all that matters is that the applicant has been living in the UK lawfully and in accordance with the immigration rules for at least 10 years. For more information about the 10-year route to settlement, please visit our article 10 years long residence route to ILR

The other difference is between the spouse visa 5-year route to settlement and a 10-year route to settlement. A spouse visa holder can consider the 5-year route if they have continued to meet the full visa eligibility criteria during the 5-year qualifying period for settlement. The 10-year route to settlement is available to spouse visa holders who do not fully meet the visa eligibility criteria. For example, if they do not meet the financial requirements of the 5-year route, they can still apply for ILR but only after 10 years.

5-year route to settlement requirements

  • Have lived lawfully and continuously in accordance with the immigration rules in the UK on a qualifying visa for 5 years . These visas include:
  • Meet any specific requirements based on the visa they hold. For example:
    • Spouse visa holders must have lived with their partner since their last visa renewal and intend to continue their relationship after they apply
    • Skilled Worker visa holders must continue to be employed by their UK sponsor and have the same job and occupation code
    • Global talent visa holders must still be endorsed as a leader or a potential leader in their field
  • Meet the financial requirements and have done so for the whole 5 year period
  • Meet the English language requirement by holding a CEFR English language qualification of level B1 or higher or a degree taught in English.
  • Pass in the Life in the UK test
  • Meet the criteria for good character

Time spent in the UK for 5-year route

You must have been living in the UK on a qualifying settlement visa for at least 5 years. Whether you can combine time on different visas to settle after 5 years will depend on the type of visa you hold, e.g.:

  • If you hold a spouse/partner visa, the rules state that you cannot include time on a different type of visa or as a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner.
  • If you hold a Skilled Worker visa, you can include time spent on:
  • If you hold an Ancestry visa, you can only count time spent in the UK on your Ancestry visa.

Continuous residence requirement

The continuous residence requirement means that to qualify for ILR, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any consecutive year during the 5-year period.

Financial requirements

To qualify under the 5-year route to ILR, you may need to meet certain financial requirements. Again, these vary depending on which visa you currently hold, e.g.:

  • Spouse visa holders must continue to meet the financial requirements of a family visa (i.e. £18,600 plus £3,800 for a first child and £2,400 a year for each further child per year).
  • Skilled Worker visa holders must continue to meet the minimum salary requirements met when applying for their visa to gain ILR – i.e. a minimum annual salary of £25,600 or £10.10 per hour, the going rate for your occupation, or a lower amount if you have a job on the shortage occupation list or you hold a relevant Ph.D.

Can you switch from the 10 year route UK to 5 year route UK?

You can switch from the 10-year route to the 5-year route for ILR as a spouse visa holder, but the time you have spent in the UK may be reset. This is because only time spent within the rules can be used to count towards 5 year settlement. For example, if you have spent 5 years in the UK as a spouse visa holder but you did not meet the financial requirements during this time, but you now do, you can switch to the 5 year route, but you will still need to live in the UK for another 5 years to qualify for ILR. In some cases, it may be preferable to remain under the 10 year route to settlement, especially if you have less than 5 years remaining and you can include time on any other visa (e.g. visitor visa or student visa).

Requirements for switching from 10-year route to 5-year route

In most cases, for an eligible qualifying ILR visa holder (e.g. work and business visa holder), to switch from the 10-year route to settlement to the 5-year route to settlement, you simply need to apply for ILR after 5 years and satisfy the Home Office that you meet the above 5 year route UK to settlement requirements. There is no need to let the Home Office know you are switching ILR routes.

If you hold a spouse visa, to switch from the 10-year route to settlement to the 5-year route to settlement, you will simply need to satisfy the Home Office that you now meet the full set of eligibility criteria for a spouse visa. As such, you must:

  • have an income of at least £18,600 per year (plus any additional amount for your children – see above).
  • still, be with your partner in a genuine relationship
  • meet the English language requirements
  • pass the Life in the UK test
  • have remained lawfully in the UK

If the Home Office is satisfied you meet the full set of eligibility criteria, you will then be on the 5-year route to ILR.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

At Reiss Edwards, we specialise in settlement applications through the 5 and 10 year routes. Our immigration solicitors can:

  • Explain the process of applying for a settlement
  • Advise how to overcome any problems with your ILR eligibility
  • Handle your ILR application on your behalf, whether through the 5 or 10 year route

For assistance in applying for settlement through the 5 or 10 year route, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

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O.L

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