For foreign nationals visiting and living in the UK, there are a number of immigration issues to consider. In the short term, there are the immediate concerns around the initial duration of stay, the terms of stay and so on and so forth. In the long term, however, the attention shifts to areas such as becoming a British citizen and permanent residence – otherwise known as acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
ILR can often be the end goal if you’re a foreign national living in the UK, but to achieve it you must meet certain criteria. Here’s everything you need to know about ILR.
What Is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
ILR gives foreign nationals permission to live and work in the UK without restriction. There are numerous visa categories that can lead to ILR, including Tier 1, spousal, ancestry and long residence visas.
ILR is, in effect, a state of permanent residence in the UK, as there is no time limit placed on the agreement.
ILR Qualification Criteria
There are a number of criteria you must adhere to to qualify for ILR. You must:
- Complete five years of lawful, continuous residence in the UK
- Meet certain income requirements
- Demonstrate a good knowledge of language and life in the UK, which is quantified via a “Life in the UK” test.
- Not have breached any immigration laws during your stay, and hold no criminal record
- Keep a detailed record of any absences over the five years of your residence
Those exempt from ILR application include:
- Those eligible for British citizenship by descent
- Child dependents of British citizens or persons with settled status
- Adult dependents who are reliant on the long-term care of family who are British citizens
- Refugees resettled in the UK via protection programs
Can ILR Be Lost?
There are circumstances in which ILR can be withdrawn. Those include:
- If you leave the UK then re-enter with an incorrect permit of leave
- If you commit a criminal offence that could lead to you being deported from the UK
- If you leave the UK for a period of more than two years – although you will be able to reapply for ILR in some circumstances. This does not apply to British Overseas citizens, British subjects or British protected persons, who cannot lose ILR status no matter how long they stay out of the UK.
With a number of complexities to consider around ILR, foreign nationals looking to apply may wish to seek legal counsel from immigration solicitors in London, who can offer the correct guidance throughout the ILR process and any other immigration matters.
For more information on matters surrounding ILR, take a look at the Immigration Advice Service’s in-depth page on ILR.