Have you spent 5 continuous lawful years in the UK? If so, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and free of immigration control.

What are the eligibility requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

To meet the requirements you must have:

  • Been living and working in the UK continuously for 5 years;
  • Passed the Life in the UK test;
  • Met the knowledge of English language requirement; and
  • Not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months.

In addition to the above, you must still be required to do the job you are sponsored for and be paid the relevant salary as listed in the Codes of Practice.

How can I confirm I have spent five continuous years in the UK?

The five years can include time in the UK on another visa if it was one of the following:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company  Transfer) if granted before 6th April 2010
  • Member of Ground Staff of an Overseas Owned Airline
  • Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order
  • Work Permit in the business and commercial category or the sports and entertainment category
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Representative of an Overseas Newspaper, News Agency or Broadcasting Organisation
  • Any Tier 1, except Tier 1 (Post-study work) or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme – now closed
  • Innovator

Any of the above can also be combined, i.e. you entered the UK on a work permit and switched into Tier 2 (General) as a result of a change of employment or extension application.

If you are unsure if you can combine your current and previous leave, please contact one of our team who will be able to advise.

What is the Life in the UK Test and is it mandatory?

The Life in the UK test must be passed by any one aged between 18-64 years in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The test is made up of 24 questions about British customs and traditions and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

You can book the test on the Gov.UK website at your nearest test centre.

Is the Life in the UK and Knowledge of English language test the same thing?

This is a common question we are asked: “I have already completed the Life in the UK test so do I need to complete the English language test”?

The answer to this question is yes, in October 2013 the Home Office announced all applicants applying for settlement, unless exempt**, would be required to pass the Life in the UK test and have an English speaking and listening qualification at B1 CEFR level or above.

What is acceptable evidence of passing the Life in the UK Test?

You can meet the requirement if you have one of the following:

  • Passed an English language test at B1 level or above which is on the approved UKVI list;
  • Degree taught or research in English.

If you are already in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa or one of the categories listed above, you have most likely already met this requirement when you first applied, we can advise further on review.

Does business travel count towards the 180 days spent outside the UK?

Many people think business related travel does not count towards the permitted 180 days outside the UK when qualifying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is not the case, and the 180 days are made up of all international travel including business related travel as well as personal travel.

Exceeding the number of absences allowed would mean the continuous residence period is broken, and therefore, disqualification from being eligible for settlement.

There are allowances if you go over the number of days outside the UK, however these are for compelling and serious circumstances.

When is the earliest date you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Most people don’t realise that they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain earlier than they think.

We usually find people think the earliest date they can apply is 28 dates prior to the date they entered the UK, this is not always the case.

If you entered the UK within 3 months of the visa being issued, you might eligible to apply 28 days prior the issue date on the visa.

For example, if your entry clearance visa was issued on 1st November 2010, you entered the UK 30thDecember 2010; you could apply for naturalisation on 3rd October 2015 providing you meet all the eligibility requirements.

What are the processing times for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications?

There are two ways in which an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain can be submitted; either in person using the premium service, or by post.

Using the premium service would mean a decision would be made on the same day and the Biometrics Residence Permit would be sent within 7-10 working days, however this is not guaranteed, applications may take longer if there are any technical issues on the day of the appointment.

Applications made by post can take up to 6 months for a decision to be made. During this time all your documents would be with the Home Office and you would not be able to travel overseas.

What are UK Visas and Immigration fees for this application?

If applying by post the fee is £1,500 or £1,900 if applying at a Premium Service Centre. The fees given are per person.