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Applying for ILR as a Dependant Family Member of a Work or Business Visa Holder

Under the UK immigration system, not only are dependant family members of work and business visa holders able to join and live with their loved ones in the UK, after 5 years, they are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and after a further year, British citizenship. Indefinite Leave to Remain is the ultimate goal of most visa holders in the UK, allowing holders to stay in the UK without restriction for as long as they wish.

Here we will outline everything that you need to know to apply for ILR as a dependant family member of a person with a work or business visa in the UK, including who qualifies, when you can apply, the requirements, what is meant by the 180-day continuous residence rule, and the costs involved applying for ILR.

Who qualifies as a dependant family member of a work or business visa holder?

What is a dependent?

A dependent is a direct relative of an individual who holds a qualifying work or business visa; this includes your:

  • Partner, i.e. your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • Children under the age of 18
  • Children over the age of 18 if they are financially dependant on the main visa holder

Partners must either be in a civil partnership or marriage or, if not, have been living together for at least 2 years.

Where a child is over the age of 18, they will be classed as a dependant if they live with the main visa holder (the only exception being if they live away for their education), they are not married (or in a civil partnership), and not financially independent.

Extended family members such as grandparents do not qualify as dependants and therefore must use an alternative option if they wish to join a visa holder in the UK.

Qualifying visas

The main visa holder through whom the dependant can apply must have one of the following types of work or business visa:

*Dependant family members of those with an older version of this type of visa may be able to apply for a dependant visa. A full list of the qualifying visas can be found on the Home Office website 1 .

In addition to the above work and business visas, dependant family members of UK Ancestry visa holders can also apply.

When can I apply for ILR as a dependant?

In most cases, a dependant family member can apply for ILR after 5 years of living in the UK on a dependant visa. A dependant will typically receive a visa that lasts for the same amount of time as the main visa holder (presuming they came to the UK at the same time as the visa holder). Even if they decide to join the main visa holder at a later date, their leave will end at the same time. While the visa expiry dates will be harmonised, if the dependant arrived at a later date, they will still need to complete 5 years in the UK to be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What are the requirements for a dependant applying for ILR?

Eligibility requirements for partners

In order to be eligible for ILR as a dependant partner:

  • You must still meet the relationship rules (i.e. have been married or in a civil partnership or have been living together in a relationship for 2 years), and;
  • You must have been living in the UK as a dependant partner of a qualifying visa for at least 5 years. The only exception here is that there is no time requirement to apply for ILR if your partner held a UK Ancestry or Representative of an Overseas Business visa; and;
  • You and your partner must be living together when you apply and intend to continue living together, and;
  • You must be a dependant on your partner’s work visa, and;
  • Your partner must have settled in the UK using their work visa, and;
  • You must meet the 180-day absence rule – explained below
  • You must both have sufficient funds to support yourselves in the UK
  • You must pass the Life in the UK Test
  • You must meet the English language requirements

Eligibility requirements for children

In order to be eligible for ILR as a dependant child:

  • The child must meet the relationship requirements (outlined below)
  • The child must be dependant on the main visa holder (i.e. be living with them and not be financially independent, working full time, married, or have children), and;
  • The child must be on a dependant visa gained through a qualifying work or business visa held by their family member. The only exception is where the main visa holds a UK Ancestry visa, in which case the child can have held any visa except for a visitor visa, Short-term study visa, Parent of a Child Student visa, Seasonal Worker visa, or a Domestic Worker in a Private Household visa, and;
  • The main visa holder is applying for ILR or has already gained ILR (the dependant child can be included in the same application or apply later)
  • The child must pass the Life in the UK Test (only for children aged 18 or over)
  • The child meets the English language requirements (only for children aged 18 or over)

The child relationship requirements state that in order to gain ILR as a parent of an eligible visa holder 2:

  • The parent can be a natural (biological) parent, an adoptive parent, or a step-parent if the child’s biological parent has died.
  • If the child lives with 2 parents in the UK, both must be settled in the UK or currently applying for settlement.
  • If the child lives with one parent, they must be settled and have sole responsibility for looking after the child.
  • If the parent does not have sole responsibility for the child, the child may still be eligible if:
    • The child’s other parent has died
    • There are serious or compelling reasons why the child should be allowed to stay in the UK - for example, if they have a serious illness
  • If the child lives with a relative who is not their parent, there must be serious compelling reasons why they should be allowed to stay in the UK.

Meeting the 180-day absence rule

The 180-day absence rule means that a dependant partner applying for ILR must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any one year period. This is sometimes referred to as the continuous residence requirements and is intended to ensure that the applicant is a genuine partner of the main visa holder.

The 180-day absence rule is a requirement for partners of those on a Skilled Worker, Sportsperson, Minister of Religion, Tier 1, Tier 5, Global Talent or Innovator visa. If you are applying as a dependant of a person on a different type of visa, this requirement will not apply.

Meeting the financial requirements

In order to make a successful application as a dependant family member, you may need to provide evidence of having enough funds. The rules state the following funds must be available to support your application “unless an applicant is applying for permission to stay and has been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application.”:

  • £285 for a dependent partner
  • £315 for the first dependent child
  • £200 for any other dependent child

English language requirements

The English language requirement means that settlement applicants aged between 18 and 65 must have sufficient competence of the English to the equivalent of level B1 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) for English language. This will be met if the applicant:

  • previously met this requirement on a successful application for permission (note, if you met a lower CEFR standard previously, you will need to meet the B1 standard for your settlement application)
  • is a national of a majority English-speaking nation
  • has an academic qualification which was taught in English
  • has passed an approved English language test

Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement

ILR applicants are required to take a formal Knowledge of Life in the UK test at a registered test centre. Some dependant family applicants are exempt from this requirement, however, including:

  • victims of domestic violence
  • bereaved spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners or same-sex partners of

There is a great deal of information available online regarding the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test, including learning material, test questions, and guidance on how to study for the test. Passing the test is relatively straightforward for those who take the time to prepare and study properly, hence we always advise that applicants should invest sufficient time in this process.

How much does ILR for dependants’ cost?

Application fee (for each dependant)


Biometric fee


Super priority service*


*A decision is typically made within 6 months on dependant ILR applications, however, it is possible to pay an additional £800 to use the super-priority service, which will provide a decision on the next working day.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Applying for ILR as a dependant of a work or business visa holder is an exciting and nerve-wracking process, especially given the importance of the outcome. Our team can assist with all aspects of your ILR application as a dependant, including:

  • Recommending the best immigration route to meet your goals and those of your family
  • Checking your application prior to submission
  • Handling the whole application process for ILR on your behalf
  • Checking you have the necessary documents
  • Dealing with complex matters relating to your application
  • Liaising with the Home Office on your behalf
  • Managing any refusal for ILR through long residence


1 Home Office: Dependent family members in work routes

2 GOV.UK: Indefinite leave to remain if you have family in the UK

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