How to get PR in the UK
Permanent residence (PR) in the UK gives foreign nationals the right to live, work, and study here indefinitely. UK PR benefits holders as they are no longer subject to immigration control (i.e., there is no need to apply for further visas to stay in the UK). PR in the UK is also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement in the UK, which is the terminology used in the official UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) guidance and your visa application.
It is also important to note that there was a permanent residence card scheme available to EU nationals before, but now it is closed to new applicants. Eligible EU and EEA nationals may instead be able to make a late application under the EU Settlement Scheme. (To help you underhand those terminologies, please check our article ILR vs PR vs Settled Status)
How to get PR in the UK
In most cases, you can apply for PR / ILR after living in the UK on a qualifying visa for 5 years. However, the qualifying times for PR vary by visa types, and it might be possible to gain PR in the UK after just 2 years. It is also possible to combine time spent in the UK on different visa types to apply for PR after 10 years. This is known as the long residency route.
The main routes that lead to UK PR or ILR include:
- Skilled Worker Visa: 5 years
- Family visas (including the UK Partner Visa (Spouse) and Unmarried Partner Visa, Parent Visa, Child Visa): 5 years
- Investor Visa: 2 - 5 years (this scheme is now closed but existing Tier 1 Investor visa holders can still apply for PR until 17th February 2028)
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa: 3 - 5 years (this scheme is now closed, but existing Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holders can apply for PR until 5th April 2025)
- Minister of Religion Visa: 5 years
- International Sportsperson: 5 years
- UK Ancestry Visa: 5 years
- Global Talent Visa: 3 - 5 years
- Innovator Visa: 3 years
- EU Settled Status under the EUSS: 5 years (for EU citizens living in the UK before the end of 2020)
For those not eligible for PR / ILR in the UK using any of the above visa schemes, the long residency route is available. The long residency route allows foreign nationals to combine time spent in the UK on any visa type (even visas that do not qualify for ILR) and apply for PR after 10 years. For more information, read our article on ILR 10 year route guidance.
It is possible for foreign nationals who have been living in the UK with a British or Irish national or a settled person to gain UK PR / ILR if their partner has died or they are a victim of domestic violence. Other available PR routes include a refugee, a person with humanitarian protection, a person with Discretionary Leave, or those serving in the armed forces.
The fastest route to PR was previously 2 years under the Investor Visa route. However, this scheme is now closed to new applicants. The fastest route to PR for new visa applicants is under the Innovator Visa and Global Talent Visa schemes.
UK PR general requirements
The eligibility rules for PR / ILR in the UK require that applicants:
- Meet the time spent in the UK requirement – this means living in the UK continuously on a qualifying visa for the required time on a lawful basis. Continuous residence means that applicants must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period
- Pass the Life in the UK Test
- Meet the English language requirements – typically by having an English qualification at B1, B2, C1, or C2 level, a degree taught in English, or by being from a qualifying English speaking country
- Be of good character
Depending on the type of visa held, UK PR applicants may need to meet additional criteria, such as having a minimum salary and remaining in a sponsored job. Please check our page for more information about PR / ILR requirements.
Does UK PR mean British Citizenship?
UK PR is not the same as British citizenship. Instead, permanent residence in the UK is a step towards British citizenship. Those who gain PR / ILR are able to apply for British citizenship after 1 year.
British citizenship holders are also able to apply for a UK passport, vote in elections, and hold public office. Importantly, whereas PR / ILR can be lost if you spend too much time outside of the UK (a consecutive absence of 2 years), this is not the case with citizenship.
How can Reiss Edwards help?
Reiss Edwards specialises in all areas of immigration law, including PR / ILR applications. Our immigration lawyers can:
- Check your eligibility for PR in the UK as well as for your family members
- Advise how to overcome any eligibility problems
- Assist if staying in the UK after divorce
- Assist with ILR following the death of a partner
- Prepare and submit your UK PR application on your behalf and of your family members
- Handle any queries from the Home Office
- Handle a refusal of a UK PR application
- Discuss your plans for citizenship