Settlement in the UK

Many of the UK’s migration categories lead to settlement. Notable exceptions are entry as a visitor, student, a Temporary Worker or an Intra-Company Transfer Worker. For many long-term categories, there is a 5-year qualifying period, but you should also bear in mind the general “long residence” rule which permits those who have held leave in a variety of categories to settle after 10 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK. 

UK settlement applications

It is important to be aware of the particular requirements for your immigration category. Most, for example, require you to provide evidence of continuous lawful residence; a certain number of days’ away from the UK are acceptable, but there are strict limits, and the way the Home Office calculates absences can be tricky to understand.

Consequently, if you’re looking to apply for settlement in the UK, you should ensure that you have good legal support. Settling means you can stay in the UK without any time restrictions; you will retain that status unless you leave the UK for a continuous 2-year period, or commit serious criminal offences. Latitude Law specialises in applications for settlement,and has had great success handling indefinite leave (ILR) applications on behalf of our clients.

What are the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Latitude’s specialist lawyers can advise you on the particular settlement requirements in your immigration category. You will have to prove:

How we can help

When you are applying for a settlement visa in the UK, it’s extremely important you do everything correctly. That’s why it is recommended that you seek expert legal guidance before you start your application for indefinite leave to remain.

Depending on your background, UK settlement applications can be complicated, and it’s critical that you seek expert advice. Latitude Law is a leading law firm for settlement applications, specialising in all aspects of immigration law. Whether you need help compiling the necessary documents, drafting submissions to the Home Office, or guidance on the appeals or administrative review process if your application has been refused, our team of specialist lawyers are on hand to help.

Why choose Latitude Law?

Our solicitors are driven to help through the complexities of immigration rules in the UK. We constantly update our knowledge of Home Office policy as well as the case law which guides the courts and tribunals. Thanks to our passion for this area of law, we have achieved huge success for clients looking to secure indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Settlement Q&As

How will Brexit impact my ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you are a non-EU citizen, you should not notice any difference in the way your settlement application is processed after Brexit. The same Immigration Rules will continue to apply to you.

What fees are involved in applying for settlement?

Fees for settlement visas have increased steadily over the years and currently stand at over £2300 for standard postal processing. You may wish to consider using a UKVI priority service, which is available for some types of applications and will increase government fees by £500 or £800 depending on whether a 5 working day or 24 hour turnaround service is chosen. Your dependants all pay the same fees – there are no discounts for children, for example. One positive of applying to settle is that you no longer have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Will I need to pass an English Language and Life in the UK test?

Every applicant for settlement aged between 18-65 must pass the Life in the UK test; exemptions are awarded on serious health grounds, but are rare. English language testing is required, to level B1 CEFR, for every applicant who is not from a majority English-speaking country, or who does not hold a recognised degree taught in English.

What is continuous residence and how do I know if I meet the criteria?

This is a requirement that applies across most UK immigration categories. In general, you must ensure that you have been outside the UK for less than 180 days in any 12-month period. The way this is calculated by UKVI can be confusing; if in doubt, we recommend you seek specialist advice from a member or our legal team.

Will I be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a refugee?

If you are approaching 5 years in the UK as a recognised refugee or person with humanitarian protection, you will be considering submitting an application for settlement, which you can make up to 28 days before your visa is due to expire. So long as you haven’t travelled back to your home country, obtained a new passport, committed any serious criminal offences, or been involved in other behaviour likely to call your good character into question, your application will normally be approved without further enquiry by UKVI. However, you must remember that such settlement applications are subject to “active review”, which means you can be refused if the Home Office believes you are no longer in need of protection.

Am I able to bring dependants to the UK if I'm granted UK settlement?

By the time you apply for settlement, your family will usually already have joined you in the UK. Their cases will have been considered under the dependant rules for your category of residence, for example, PBS. If you are granted ILR, things can change, in ways which can be complicated. You are strongly advised, before applying for settlement yourself, to get expert advice on the implications for your partner and children. This is especially true if you are applying to settle on long residence grounds after 10 years in the UK. Taking that step can harm your family’s cases, since they are not permitted to apply for ILR as your dependants. Children who are over 18 by the time you apply are particularly vulnerable in such cases, so think twice before you submit your own application.

What is returning resident status?

Anyone granted settlement in the UK will usually retain that status so long as they don’t live abroad for more than 2 years. If you do leave for that length of time, for example because you start a job overseas, you can retain your ILR by returning to the UK for the purpose of settlement within 2 years, or after more than 2 years abroad if you have good reasons why you’ve been away so long. The Immigration Rules for returning residents are complicated, so if you are planning to live abroad for an extended period after being granted ILR, seek expert advice on how this will affect your UK immigration status. Note it is not usually a good idea to simply travel back to the UK if you’ve been away more than 2 years, and try to deal with things at the airport. You run the risk of being landed as a visitor, which can cause you problems when seeking to re-assert your settled status.

What documents must I provide to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

You will need to provide the usual documents when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain; English language and Life in the UK papers are required by most applicants. Thereafter it depends on the category in which you seek ILR. If you’re applying on long residence grounds, proof of your continuous lawful residence is required. If applying as a Skilled Worker, confirmation of your salary and that your employer still requires your services are essential. You are best advised to seek specific legal advice to ensure that your settlement application is processed successfully.

How long will it take to find out if my settlement application has been successful?

Standard processing times are up to 6 months. If you are eligible, you may be able to purchase a priority service which reduces the processing times to 5 working days or 24 hours. You will keep your passport and BRP during the processing of your application, however you are not allowed to travel outside the UK or Common Travel Area until your application has been decided and you have a new BRP.

What can I do if I don't qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you haven’t yet passed a specified English test, or the Life in the UK test, your particular category may permit you to simply extend your leave further, to give you more time to do gain these results. If your issues are more serious – for example, you’re a Skilled Worker and your salary is below the settlement threshold, you need to secure legal advice on your options well in advance of your leave expiring.

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I am writing this on behalf of the whole family, we would like to say thank you. These two words are such small words for the gratitude and high regard we all hold you in.

Your firm and especially you have been with us throughout the difficult years we have had and you have always been there when we needed picking up, our shoulder to cry on that saw us through with honesty and realistic advice.

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The long road to permanent residence

Me and Fady want to thank you and your team for helping us throughout the past 8 years with Fady's immigration issues and finally getting him to live a life without worries and struggles. We just came back from Egypt where we visited his family after 8 years of Fady not seeing them. This wouldn't have been possible without your help and who knows where we would be today if it wasn't for you helping us.

April 2019

All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019