Settlement in the UK: an overview
A successful Settlement application results in the grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). ILR is also known as Permanent Residence (PR).
There are three main routes to ILR: Employment, Partner (Marriage), and Long Residence.
Employment Route to ILR
- The general rule (though note the following!) is that five years continuous lawful residence in any combination of Work Permit, Tier 1 General, and Tier 2 is sufficient to make an application for ILR. Please note that time spent as a Post Study Work (PSW) holder can not be included.
- The automatic link between Tier 2 and ILR was broken by the UK Government in April 2012, retrospectively to those entering after 6 April 2011. While it was the case that after five years spent as a Tier 2 migrant any applicant was eligible to apply for Settlement, their job must now meet minimum criteria on salary, educational level, or shortage occupation status.
- Allowable absences from the UK are those which are less than three months for any single trip, and which total less than six months in any 12 month period. Absences resulting from annual leave and/ or from business trips are ignored.
- For those whose status is Tier 1 General at the time of Settlement application there is now a points based requirement similar to that for a Tier 1 General application.
- For the Employment route to ILR, use the SET(O) form
Partner (Marriage) Route to ILR
- 'Partner' includes a husband, wife, or cohabiting partner of a British Citizen or a person with Settled Status
- Initially 30 months of leave are granted (or 33 months in the case of Entry Clearance applications), followed by a further extension of the same. At the end of this period, if the relationship is still subsisting, the partner will qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
- For the Partner (Marriage) route to ILR, use the SET(M) form
Long Residence Route to ILR
- To qualify for the Long Residence route, the applicant should have 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK. Time spent as a Tier 1 Post Study Work holder is included.
- Absences are permitted so long as they are no more than six months for any single trip, and total no more than 18 months in all
- For the Long Residence Route to ILR, use the SET(O) form
Once ILR has been granted, permitted absences may be of up to two years whilst still retaining ILR.
After ILR has been granted, applicants can choose to progress to a British Citizenship Application. The advantages of Citizenship include a British passport, the right to vote in UK elections, and the ability to be absent from the UK for any amount of time whilst retaining Citizenship.