How to Get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)Dr Shafiq
The Indefinite Leave to Remain is an immigration status in the UK allowing applicants the right to live and work without any restrictions on time limit, travel, and immigration. To get this status, you have to stay in the UK for a specific time and meet some strict criteria.
ILR is a very important and popular immigration status as it allows individuals to enjoy all the rights and benefits of a UK citizen, except for voting. A valid passport, living in the UK for at least five years, and passing the Line in UK Test is the basic eligibility for ILR. So let’s take a closer look at it.
Types of ILR
ILR for Tier 1 (General) Visa Holders
Individuals living in the UK with Tier 1 visas can apply for this Indefinite Leave to Remain grant type. This visa is issued for highly skilled persons from non-EEA countries to live and work in the United Kingdom upon fulfilling all the criteria.
To be eligible for ILR with this visa, you must stay and work in the UK continuously for at least five years, maintain a minimum income level, have no criminal conviction, have no restrictions on study, and meet the English Language requirements.
ILR for Tier 2 (General) Visa Holders
The Tire 2 visa is designed for skilled non-EEA individuals, allowing them to work in the UK for a specific period of time. Generally, this visa is sponsored by an employee and allows them to work for up to 5 years. After 5 years, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status.
To get this immigration status, you must work continuously for five years in the UK and pass the Life in the UK Test. It will be an excellent option for Tier 2 visa holders and a gateway to permanent residency and, eventually, British Citizenship.
ILR for Family Members of British Citizens or Settled Persons
This ILR type allows family members of a British citizen or settled person to live in the UK without any restrictions on long stays and travels. But family members must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this. Firstly, they must demonstrate a genuine and subsisting relationship with the UK citizen.
For this, they should be able to show sufficient evidence of their relationship. Plus, they have to be resided in the UK for at least five years. On top of all these, the family members must show that they have adequate knowledge of the English language and the British way of life.
Upon meeting all these criteria, the family members will be given an ILR and allowed to work in the UK without any restriction. They can also apply for citizenship 12 months after getting ILR.
ILR for Long Residence in the UK
It allows individuals who have been living in the United Kingdom for a minimum of 10 years a restriction-free stay in the country and enjoy all the social benefits. However, there are some strict criteria an individual must meet.
For example, to get this ILR, you must legally live and work in the UK for at least 10 years. During these 10 years, you cannot stay out of the United Kingdom for more than 450 days or have no deportation order. Good English language skills and good character are also necessary.
How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
Preparation of Required Documents
The first step of applying for ILR is to prepare all the required documents. When you are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, your first duty is to ensure all the necessary documents are ready.
This includes a valid passport or travel document, proof of your residence in the United Kingdom, passport-size photographs, English proficiency proof, income statements, and any other documents asked by the authority.
When the documents are ready, you should focus on the application process. You have to fill out your application form with accurate information and make sure all placeholders are filled out thoroughly. Then you have to submit it along with supporting documents that we have already mentioned above.
Some individuals may have to submit additional forms, depending on their circumstances. After you have submitted the application form and documents, you will receive an acknowledgment letter containing a reference number, which you must keep safe for future reference.
Now that you have submitted your application for ILR and received an acknowledgment letter, it’s time to attend a biometric registration. You will get a biometric enrollment appointment at a designated center, where you must show up on time.
In this appointment center, the authority will take all your biometric information, including fingerprints, photographs, etc., and record them in UK’s biometric system. A biometric residence permit will be sent to you within 7 to 10 working days from the appointment day.
Now, you will have to wait for your ILR application to be processed. The processing time for an ILR application usually varies on factors like an individual’s circumstances, the number of supporting documents you have provided, the number of applications received by your designated center, etc.
However, it generally takes 3 to 6 months to process your application. Meanwhile, you should keep patience and focus on your daily routine, doing your job, and supporting your family.
The last phase of your ILR application process is the decision-making. The UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) authority will thoroughly review your application and supporting documents. Then, based on the application form and documents, they will make a decision on your application for ILR.
If your application goes through successfully, you will be granted an Indefinite Leve to Remain. The UKVI will notify the decision via post. However, your application for ILR in the UK depends on the supporting documents and information you provide in the application form. So, providing correct and updated information is of utmost importance.
Right to Live and Work in the UK without any Immigration Restrictions
Probably the most attractive and sought-out benefit of UK Indefinite Leave to Remain is the access to living and working in the UK without any immigration restrictions. Meaning this immigration grant will allow you to live in the UK and travel anywhere without any restrictions.
There will be no limits on how long you can stay in the UK. You can take any form of employment inside the country or go for self-employment without any additional permissions from the immigration authority.
Access to public funds and benefits
ILR status comes with all the public funds and benefits available to British people. So, after getting this status, you will gain access to public funds and benefits such as health care services, welfare benefits, social housing, etc.
It will provide you with the same level of services and supports available to UK citizens. Most importantly, you won’t face any discrimination in availing of these services and benefits.
Option to apply for British citizenship
As we already mentioned, ILR is a stepping stone for British citizenship. After getting Indefinite Leave to Remain status, you will be recognized as a permanent resident of the United Kingdom, allowing you the right to apply for citizenship after living there for 5 years.
So, you will have the opportunity to become fully integrated into British society as a citizen and enjoy all the rights and privileges, including the right to vote. You can usually apply for citizenship within 12 months of getting ILR.
Ability to travel outside the UK without affecting immigration status
You will have the right to travel outside the UK without affecting your immigration status with an ILR status. You will be able to travel abroad freely without worrying about potential consequences or effects on your immigration status.
This ILR status will allow you to travel for personal, professional, business, or educational purposes. So, with this ILR grant, you can stay out of the UK without worrying about losing your immigration status in the UK.
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Maintaining ILR Status
Maintaining ILR in the UK has some specific criteria, which are now more strictly followed than ever. Residency requirements are some of the most crucial criteria you must meet to maintain your ILR status.
Be present in the UK physically for the majority of 12 months before renewing your ILR status. Living in the UK for at least 180 days in each of the 5 calendar years preceding your renewal of indefinite leave to remain status is also a must.
Continuous compliance with immigration laws
To maintain your ILR status, you must continuously comply with immigration laws in the UK. This includes behaving like a good resident by obeying all the rules in the citizen charter. You must also notify the UK government of any changes in your circumstances; for example, a change in your address or acquisition of any criminal convictions.
Implications of absences from the UK
Although you can travel abroad from the UK with your ILR status, absences have specific implications. For example, if you live out of the UK for 180 days or more in a single 12 months period, you can be at risk of losing the ILR status.
If you remain physically absent from the United Kingdom for more than two years in a row, your ILR status will be revoked, and in this case, you’ll have to reapply for a new visa to enter the UK.
Conditions and restrictions of ILR
With all the benefits you can enjoy from your ILR status in the United Kingdom, there are still some indefinite leave to remain conditions and restrictions that you must follow. For example, without a professional qualification, you cannot take up some regulated employment with your ILR status, such as medicine and dentistry.
You will need to register with the local police if you want to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, even though you have an ILR status. There may still be some immigration control and limited access to services with this immigration grant.
Common Issues and Challenges
Refusal of ILR application
One of the most common issues and challenges in ILR application is refusal. The application process is very stressful, and you can be denied the status based on factors like required paperwork, whether you meet all the criteria, and a lack of sufficient evidence.
You will be notified if your application is refused, and you can appeal the decision if you think the decision was incorrect.
Appeals and Reconsideration
Although you can appeal a refusal decision, it’s not an easy process. You will have to provide additional documents and evidence to back your claim and apply for reconsideration.
You must also be able to explain why you believe the decision was wrong. If you can successfully provide additional supporting documents and explain why you deserve an ILR, your application will be reconsidered, and a new decision will be made.
Consequences of non-compliance with ILR requirements
You may have to face several consequences if you fail to comply with ILR requirements and criteria. It can make you subject to fines, removal from the UK, or even a ban from re-entering the country ever again.
So, you have to ensure that you understand the requirements of ILR and comply with them in order to avoid these consequences.
Reapplication for ILR
You can reapply for an ILR if your application is refused or your status is revoked. In both cases, you must explain why you should be granted an ILR and why you think the decision was wrong. You must also submit additional documents and attend interviews to establish your case.
But remember, the application process will be much slower this time, and the success rate will be lower than the first time.
Indefinite Leave to Remain status will allow you to live the life you wanted in the UK, and it will be your access to citizenship. So, being cautious in your application process on the first try is of absolute importance, and when you are granted an ILR, make sure to maintain it well. Visit UKVI’s website to learn more about how you settle in the UK.