When Can a Tier 2 / Skilled Worker Dependent Apply for ILR?
If you are living with your spouse/partner or parent in the UK who is a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa holder, you may be wondering whether you have the right to settle here in the future. Many migrant family members in the UK with the main visa holder worry they may not have the same rights, and will always be subject to immigration control. This is not the case. In this article, we will explain when the dependant family member of Tier 2 / Skilled Worker visa holder can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), otherwise known as a settlement.
What Is A Dependant?
Before we provide a full answer to the question of whether a dependant of a work visa holder can acquire ILR, it is first important to understand what is meant by dependant. This is because only close family members are eligible. A dependant partner or child is defined by the Home Office as any of the following people:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
To be eligible to join a work visa holder in the UK, the main applicant needs to provide evidence of these relationships. In terms of partners, you can either be married or in a civil partnership, or have been living together in a relationship for at least two years.
Children under 16 are generally accepted as being dependant, but if they are 16 or over, they need to prove they are not dependant on their parent/s. The Home Office will verify that:
- your child lives with you (unless they’re in full-time education at boarding school, college or university)
- they are not married, in a civil partnership or have any children
- they are financially supported by you
They must also have enough money to support themselves while in the UK (£285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child). Under this route, any other family member will not be eligible to join the main work visa holder.
Dependants who are granted permission to join their family member in the UK will be able to remain if that person stays in the UK. In the case of a partner/spouse, they can remain as long as they continue to be in the same genuine relationship. In the event that the main visa holder leaves the country, or the relationship ends, each dependant must either apply for a new visa or leave the country.
Can A Dependant Of Tier 2 / Skilled Worker Visa Holder Settle In The UK Permanently?
Yes, at the point at which the main visa holder has been living in the UK continuously for five years on Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa and is applying for ILR, a dependant can be included in the same application. ‘Continuous’ means they have not been out of the UK for more than 180 days in any consecutive period in the five years before applying for ILR. They will also need to show they are still required by their sponsoring employer, and their job meets the salary requirements.
Assuming that all of this holds true, their partner/spouse and any dependant children can apply for ILR on the same application. For a partner to be eligible to be included in the application for ILR, they must:
- have permission to be in the UK as your partner
- have been living in the UK with you for at least two years if they applied before 9 July 2012 or 5 years if they applied on or after 9 July 2012
- be in a genuine relationship with the main applicant
- intend to continue living with the main applicant
- have enough income to support themselves and their dependants
- not be using public funds
- pass the Life in the UK Test
- meet the English language requirements
For a dependant child to be eligible to be included in the application for ILR, they must:
- have previously been given permission to stay in the UK as your child
- not be married or in a civil partnership
- live with you and be supported by you without using public funds
In addition, both parents must both be settled in the UK legally (or applying to settle). A child can also acquire ILR if:
- the work visa holder is the child’s sole surviving parent
- the work visa holder has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing
- there are serious or compelling family or other considerations, for example, you (if you’re settled in the UK) or your child has a serious illness.
If the child is over 16, when including them in the application for ILR, you will need to provide proof they are dependant on you.
Children under 18 do not need to complete the Life in the UK Test or an English language test.
How Long Will It Take To Receive A Decision On Our ILR Application?
The ILR application is made online, and the current fee is £2,389 per person. The standard application process can take around six months to complete (this may be more if the application is complex). It is possible to accelerate this process by paying £500 for the priority service, leading to a decision within five days. The super-priority service costs £800 and will lead to a decision on the next working day.
It can be extremely reassuring for Tier 2 / Skilled Worker visa holders and their dependants that the family can remain together and receive ILR at the same time. While the application for ILR is expensive for a large family, it does mean that there will be no further need to apply for a visa and to pay the healthcare surcharge. It also means you are all only one year away from being eligible for British citizenship.