If you are in the UK with some form of limited leave to remain, you are probably aiming to attain the status of indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or its near-identical twin indefinite leave to enter (ILE), in the future.
You may have heard conversations and rumours in the community or online about ‘early ILR’ and have asked yourself ‘does that really exist?’ In this short blog, OTB Legal’s Personal Immigration Team presents you with a simplified table listing the main personal immigration routes to ILR.
What is ILR or ILE?
People with ILR/ILE have no time limit on their stay in the UK. They can live without the pressure of having to make regular visa renewal applications. Those with ILR/ILE can travel freely and are only likely to lose their status if they spend more than 2 years at a time overseas.
How do I get ILR or ILE?
Each person’s route to ILR will be different and this table is only a very rough guide, which sets out who may be eligible to apply for ILR/ILE at certain intervals after arrival in the UK. You will need specific legal advice, tailored to your situation, to establish whether you really are entitled to apply for ILR.
UPON ENTRY CLEARANCE
|An Adult Dependant Relative (ADR) of a British citizen or other qualifying person living in the UK. They can settle in the UK if they can demonstrate that they require a level of long-term personal care (due to age, illness or disability) that can only be provided in the UK by their relative (without recourse to public funds)|
|A child seeking to enter the UK to join one or both of their settled parents, in certain circumstances|
|A child seeking to remain in the UK with one or both of their settled parents, in certain circumstances|
|Exceptional circumstances – where refusal of your ILR application would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for you or your family, amounting to a breach of your Article 8 ECHR rights to family life (we address this in a little more detail below).|
|If your partner died and that person was either British held ILR, or held settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)|
|If you are on a partner visa but your relationship with your partner has broken down permanently as a result of domestic abuse|
THE 5 YEARS CLUB
|Partner visas – if you are a spouse or an unmarried partner and your decision letter confirms you are on the 5 year route to settlement (probably because you met all of the requirements)|
|Parent visa – if you are the parent of a British child in the UK and your decision letter confirms you are on the 5 year route to settlement (probably because you met all of the requirements)|
|Private life – if you are aged between 18 and 25 and have lived more than half your life in the UK, you can apply for ILR if you have held limited leave to remain on the private life route for 5 years|
|EU Settlement Scheme – once you have been continuously resident in the UK lawfully for 5 years, you can apply for ‘settled status’, which is similar to ILR but more generous|
THE 7 YEARS CLUB
|Private life – if you were born in the UK and spent the first 7 years of your life here, you can proceed straight to applying for ILR, even if you don’t currently hold any immigration status|
THE 10 YEARS CLUB
|Partner visas – if you are a spouse or an unmarried partner and your decision letter does not say you are on the 5 year route to settlement (probably because you did not meet all of the requirements)|
|Parent visa – if you are the parent of a British child in the UK and your decision letter does not say you are on the 5-year route to settlement (probably because you did not meet all of the requirements)|
|Private life – if you are over 18 and have lived in the UK continuously for over 10 years on the private life route or a related route|
|Private life – if you have lived in the UK for 20 years, either lawfully or unlawfully, then successfully apply for limited leave to remain on the private life route for 10 years. This is effectively a 30-year route to settlement|
|Private life – if you have been in the UK a little less than 20 years, either lawfully or unlawfully, and there would be very significant obstacles preventing you from reintegrating into your country of origin|
|Long residence – 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK under a number of different routes|
|Discretionary leave – 10 years continuous residence in the UK under Discretionary Leave|
Are my circumstances exceptional?
The Home Office has the discretion to grant ILR on the basis of exceptional circumstances, but they need a lot of persuading! If you can show that just another grant of limited leave would leave you in a precarious situation and would create such serious distress as to have a disproportionately detrimental effect on your health or welfare, which would prevent your recovery or development, this could result in a grant of ILR.
So, what circumstances might meet this high threshold? The exceptional circumstances need to be not just unusual but so different from other cases that it is necessary to upgrade from a standard grant of leave to ILR.