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Indefinite leave to Remain in the U.K.

Indefinite leave: Guidelines you need to know.

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  • You settle in the UK by obtaining indefinite leave to remain. It’s also known as settlement.’ It gives you the right to live, work, and study in the country for as long as you want, as well as apply for benefits if you qualify. It is possible to use it to apply for British citizenship.

  • Depending on your circumstances, there are several ways to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

  • If you or a family member are a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you may be able to apply for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme instead.

If you work in the UK

  • You may be able to apply if you have a work visa.

  • Typically, you must have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years. If you have a tier 1 visa, you can stay for two or three years. If you have an Innovator or Global Talent visa, you can stay for up to three years. 

  • Your visa may also impose salary requirements or financial requirements.

How you apply for Indefinite leave depends on whether you:

  • Have a Tier 2, International Sportsperson or Skilled Worker visa.
  • An Investor or Entrepreneur visa is required if you are a Global Talent or Tier 1 Entrepreneur.
  • Have an Innovator visa.
  • Represent an overseas business.
  • Have a Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa.
  • Are a private servant in a diplomatic household with an International Agreement visa, or a domestic worker.

If you have family in the UK

You may be able to apply if you have a partner, parent, child, or another relative who is a British citizen or has indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 

How you apply is determined by the type of visa you have and how your family member has settled. 

  • There are additional ways to apply if:
    • Your partner has died.
    • Your relationship ended because of domestic violence.

If you’ve lived in the UK for 10 years:

  • Applicants who have lived in the country for at least ten years may be eligible to apply.
  • You must apply in a different way if you have a visa based on your private life. 

Application to Indefinite leave being a Commonwealth citizen:

  • FIrstly the applicants who have been in the UK for five years on a UK Ancestry visa can apply.
  • Some Commonwealth citizens have a “right of abode” in the United Kingdom. This means you can live and work in the UK without fear of being deported. Check to see if you can apply to demonstrate your right of abode in the UK.
  • You may be able to obtain citizenship instead, for example, through the Windrush scheme.

Other ways to apply for Indefinite Leave:

If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain: 

  • Are a refugee, have humanitarian protection, or have Discretionary Leave, and
  • Are returning to the UK after previously having indefinite leave to remain 
  • You must have served in the armed forces. 

Otherwise, you can get advice on staying in the UK from Citizens Advice.

For more information

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Reina D'costa

Dual qualified, experienced, practical and proactive solicitor. Founder of Bizlaw UK, a new model legal service consultancy.