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Applying For Indefinite Leave to Remain After 5 Years

Indefinite Leave to Remain (or ILR, for short) is the ultimate aim for many migrants in the UK. Often it is the culmination of many years of hard work and diligent dedication to ensuring compliance with the strict visa requirements in place. So, if you are looking to settle your status in the UK and are about to become eligible to apply for ILR, this article has been designed to help you to take the next step on your immigration journey.

Eligibility Criteria For Indefinite Leave To Remain

To apply for ILR, you firstly need to be in a visa category that allows you to apply for ILR. Generally speaking, most immigration categories that lead to ILR will require you to have held such a visa for 5 continuous years (although this may be reduced for those holding a Tier 1 Investor Visa or another beneficial route). You will then also need to meet the following eligibility criteria laid out below-

  • You are of good character
  • You have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK (by taking the Life in the UK test) and the English language
  • You have not spent more than 900 days outside of the UK in the five-year qualifying period
  • You have not spent 180 days or more outside of the UK in the 12 months prior to your application for ILR

Each immigration category will have its own specific requirements on top of these general eligibility requirements. For example, a Tier 2 (General) visa holder will need to be able to demonstrate that their employment is required for the foreseeable future. For those already with a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you would need to demonstrate that you have maintained or created 2 full-time jobs for settled workers.

If your application is granted, you will be able to live and work in the UK without the need for a visa, indefinitely. You will also have the opportunity to apply to become a British citizen after having ILR for 12 months this can be reduced to one day if you are married to a British national. We cover British citizenship later on in this article.

How to Apply For Indefinite Leave to Remain

To apply for ILR, you must first ensure you are eligible as per the criteria laid out above. As long as you are eligible, you will need to make an application online using the appropriate portal. Once your application has been received, you will then need to provide documentary evidence as required by the Home Office.

The list below lays out the documents likely to be required by Home Office-

  • Any passports or travel documents that you have possessed during your stay in the UK
  • All birth or adoption certificates for any dependants included in your application
  • A police registration certificate if you have been required to register with the police
  • Evidence of your income - this will need to be in the form of wage slips and bank statements
  • Your certificate for the life in the UK test and proof of a relevant English language qualification (if required)
  • Evidence of any absences from the UK

Rejected For Indefinite Leave To Remain? Next Steps

There are many reasons for applications for ILR being turned down. These reasons generally include criminal activity for which you have received a conviction, a history of immigration offences, failure to prove eligibility and many others potential reasons. To prevent these issues, it is important you ensure you adhere to the eligibility criteria for ILR.

In the section below, we will look at what you can do if you have received a rejection. There are essentially 4 options for those who have had their ILR application rejected:

Submit A New Application - if the reason for your rejection is straightforward (such as an administrative error), the best option may be to correct the error and resubmit your application. Unless you still have a valid visa at the point of refusal, you will need to submit an application within 14 days from the date of the decision.

Appealing The decision /- there is no automatic right to an appeal for those who have had their application for ILR turned down. Generally speaking, in the event that the Home Office refuses an application for ILR, you will be given the right to appeal the decision on human rights grounds. The Home Office may decide not to issue a right of appeal specific circumstances such as-

  • The application is one which is 'clearly unfounded'. What this means is that the Home Office is of the opinion that the application is one that is 'bound to fail' and as such no Immigration Judge from the Immigration and Asylum Chamber would allow the appeal
  • The application raised grounds which could and should have been raised earlier. However, this ground is extremely unlikely to arise in an application for ILR.

In the event that one of the above applies, you can wither submit a new application or challenge the decision by way of a Judicial Review application. You can visit our page detailing the Judicial Review process.

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