Permanent Residence (ILR)

If you have lived legally in the United Kingdom for a certain length of time (usually between two and five years), you may be able to apply for Permanent Residence. This is known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

The length of time you must spend in the UK before being eligible for Permanent residence in the UK:

Permanent Residence and Time needed to gain Permanent Residency:

Tier 1 / HSMP and Tier 2 / Work permit: 5 years
Ancestry: 5 years
Marriage: 2 years
Unmarried Partners: 2 years
Investors: 5 years
Writers, composers and artists: 5 years
Sole reps: 5 years
Persons establishing themselves in business: 5 years
Lawful stay on any basis: 10 years

You must be in the UK when you apply under above categories. The only migrants who can apply for settled status from outside the UK are certain parents and family members of British citizens and settled persons.

Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK
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If you wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK on or after 2nd April 2007 you will need to be aware of the introduction of the new rules, which requires applicants to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the English language and life in the UK in order to qualify.

Certain applicants for settlement are exempt from the ‘knowledge of language and life’ (KOL) requirement.

Exemption for certain immigration categories: You will not have to meet the KOL requirement if you are being granted settlement outside the Immigration Rules, or if you are applying for settlement as:

-A Foreign and Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces (including a Gurkha);
-The husband, wife or civil partner of a Foreign and Commonwealth citizen on discharge from HM Forces (including a Gurkha);
-A victim of domestic violence;
-The bereaved partner (husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner) of a British citizen or someone who was settled in the UK;
-A parent, grandparent or other dependent relative of a British citizen or someone who has settled in the UK (under paragraph 317 of the Immigration Rules);
-A retired person of independent means;
-A European national or the non-European family member of a European national, making an application under the Free Movement of Persons provisions (not based on the Immigration Rules);
-A Turkish businessperson under the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) with Turkey;
-Someone who has spent five years in the UK with permission to stay as a refugee;
-Someone who has spent six years in the UK with discretionary leave;
-Someone who has spent four years in the UK with exceptional leave to remain;
-Someone who has spent five years in the UK with humanitarian protection; or
-A dependent child of someone in an employment category that preceding the points-based system (listed in paragraphs 128-193 of the Immigration Rules, excluding paragraphs 135I-135K) or of someone who is in the UK as a businessman, self-employed person, investor, writer, composer or artist (paragraphs 200-239 of the Immigration Rules). This includes children who are 18 or over when they apply.

Exemption because of your Age
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If you are under 18 years old or at least 65 years old, you are exempt from the KOL requirement. When you apply for settlement, you should send us your passport or birth certificate as evidence of your age.

Exemption because of Disability
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If you have a long-standing, permanent disability which prevents you from learning English, you may be exempt from the KOL requirement. To be exempt, you must:

-Be suffering from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts your mobility and ability to attend language classes; or
-Have a mental impairment which means that you are unable to learn another language.

If you require special arrangements to be able to learn English or take a test, you are not exempt – you still must meet the KOL requirement.

Demonstrating your knowledge of language and life in the UK: There are three ways to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life (KOL) in the UK:

-If your English skills are at or above ESOL Entry 3 level, you will need to pass the ‘Life in the UK test’.
-If your English skills are below ESOL Entry 3 level, you will need to take and pass a course in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) which contains citizenship materials.
-If you are the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a staff member of HM Diplomatic Service, the British Council or the Department for International Development, there are other arrangements that may apply to you.

Once Indefinite Leave to Remain has been granted, there are no longer any immigration related restrictions on the work or business you may do in the UK, and no time limits on your stay in the UK.

You should note that to keep your permanent residence you should not spend longer than two years outside the UK. You should maintain ties to the UK and should consider the UK as your home. If you continue to only spend short periods of time in the UK over many years it is likely that there will come a time when you will lose your indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It is therefore beneficial in most cases to apply for UK citizenship. You can normally apply for naturalisation one year after being granted indefinite leave to remain and as long as you meet the residence requirements.