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What Happens to PBS Dependants When a Main Applicant Switches to ILR?

Having come to the UK as a dependant family member of a points-based system (PBS) visa (e.g., work visa) holder, you may be unsure of your immigration rights and options, especially when they gain indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Ultimately, dependants in this situation are only permitted to stay in the UK because they derive their permission from that of their family member, but when that person gains settlement, dependant family members need to understand their immigration status and what they need to do next. In this article, we will explain what happens to PBS dependants when a main applicant secures indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

Under which PBS visa types can a dependant family member apply for ILR?

The PBS visa types which allow dependant family members to apply for ILR are as follows:

When can a PBS dependant apply for ILR?

The main visa holder and their PBS dependants can typically apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to settle in the UK after five years of continuous residence in the UK. Some visa categories such as the investor visa have shorter (three years) qualifying periods for ILR.

Continuous residence is broken when an applicant is absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period without permitted reasons. Hence, as long as you have adhered to this rule and you have been in the country long enough to qualify for ILR, you will be able to apply for settlement.

If you arrived in the UK at the same time as the main PBS visa holder, then you will both be able to apply at the same time. If you arrived at a later date than the PBS visa holder, then you will need to wait until you reach the continuous residence requirement for ILR before you can apply for settlement.

Does a PBS dependant automatically gain ILR at the same time as the main visa holder?

When a main PBS visa holder secures ILR to settle in the UK, their dependant family members need to make their own application for settlement. This can be done at the same time as the main applicant makes their ILR application (i.e., all applications can be sent together) assuming that the qualifying period for settlement has been reached by the family members. If the dependant family members arrived after the main visa holder, they will need to send a separate application for ILR when they reach the qualifying period.

What are the eligibility requirements for ILR as a dependant of a PBS visa holder?

Applicants for ILR must have been living in the UK for the continuous qualifying period (as discussed above), meet the English language requirement (see below), and pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test (see below).

The immigration rules state that in order to be eligible to apply for ILR as a dependant family member of a PBS visa, the main visa holder must:

  • be being granted settlement at the same time as the applicant, or;
  • have previously been granted settlement due to permission on the related immigration route, or;
  • become a British citizen, having previously been granted settlement due to permission on the related immigration route

The following validity rules must also have been met:

  • any application fee must have been paid
  • the applicant must have provided any required biometrics
  • the applicant must have provided a passport or other travel document which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality
  • the applicant must be in the UK on the date of application

English language requirement

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 SELT

Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement

The immigration rules state that “The British Nationality Act 1981 provides that a person applying for naturalisation must have sufficient knowledge of life in the United Kingdom”. This requires taking 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:

people present and settled in the UK

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.

Final words

Applying for ILR as a dependant of a PBS visa holder is an exciting and nerve-wracking process for some, given the importance of the outcome. Gaining ILR means that you can remain in the UK permanently, and after a further year, apply for British citizenship. As such, it marks the point at which you are no longer subject to immigration control and can make plans to remain permanently. If you need any assistance with your application, to discuss your case, to have your application reviewed, or to have the process managed on your behalf, speak to an immigration Solicitor.

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

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O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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