Settlement in the UK (ILR): An Overview

What is Settlement?

A successful Settlement application results in the grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as Permanent Residence (PR). Put simply, this means you are legally allowed to live, work and study in the UK for the rest of your life.

How do I qualify?

There are many different routes to ILR. However, the main routes are through employment, family links or length of time spent in the UK (Long Residence).

Employment Route

The general rule is that five years continuous lawful residence in any combination of Work Permit, Tier 1, and Tier 2 is sufficient to make an application for ILR.

Time spent as a Post Study Work (PSW) holder cannot be included as part of this five years.

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 used to be 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 a minimum criteria on salary. Further details regarding this can be found on our Tier 2 resources page.

Allowable absences from the UK are those which are less than six months in any 12-month period.

Applicants must satisfy the Knowledge of Life and Language requirement.

Dependants of workers in these categories can usually be included in an ILR application, i.e. they will qualify after completing 5 years.

White Rose Visas team and clients

Partner Route

'Partner' includes a husband, wife, or cohabiting partner of a British Citizen or a person with Settled Status. Find out more about our partner, spouse and marriage visas here.

Initially 30 months of leave are granted (or 33 months in the case of Entry Clearance applications), followed by a further extension of 30 months. At the end of this period, if the relationship is still subsisting, the partner will qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

There is no limit on the amount of time applicants can spend abroad, however if they have spent more time outside the UK than inside, extra care must be taken with an application in order to demonstrate that there is a long term intention to live permanently in the UK.

Applicants must satisfy the Knowledge of Life and Language requirement.

Long Residence Route

To qualify for ILR through the Long Residence route, the applicant should have 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK. Time spent in any category, including that of visitor can be included.

White Rose Visas at work

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 the 10 year period.

Applicants must satisfy the Knowledge of Life and Language requirement.

Dependants cannot be included in this type of application and will need to complete 10 years in their own right before becoming eligible to apply for ILR.

Other options

There are other less common routes to ILR. To check your eligibility across any route you can fill out the appropriate online form. Please do get in touch with us here at White Rose Visas if you have any questions about your individual circumstances and pathway to settlement.

After ILR

Once ILR has been granted, this is a permanent status, and can only be cancelled if a holder leaves the UK for a consecutive period of two years whilst still retaining ILR.

Holders of ILR can choose to progress to a British Citizenship Application. The advantages of Citizenship include:

  • A British passport
  • The right to vote in UK elections
  • The ability to be absent from the UK for any amount of time whilst retaining Citizenship

How can we help?

Here at White Rose Visas we would be delighted to assist you with your Settlement application. Our advisers will use their expert knowledge and extensive experience to ensure that your application is successful. We are waiting for your call.


0114 303 9933

0800 8600 851


White Rose Visas

Wharf House

Victoria Quays

Wharf Street

Sheffield S2 5SY

United Kingdom

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