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What is ILR?

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 may need specific legal advice, tailored to your situation, to establish whether you really are entitled to apply for ILR.

 

If you arrived in the UK: 

You can apply for ILR/ILE:

Now/recently and have just received entry clearance

If you’re an Adult Dependant Relative (ADR) of a British citizen or other qualifying person living in the UK, you can settle in the UK if you can demonstrate that you require a level of long-term personal care (due to age, illness or disability) that can only be provided in the UK by your relevant relative (without recourse to public funds).

If you’re a child seeking to enter the UK to join one or both of your settled parents, in certain circumstances.

Any time

If you’re a child seeking to remain in the UK with one or both of your settled parents, in certain circumstances.

In exceptional circumstances, where the 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 right to family life (addressed in more detail below).

If your partner died and they were 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.

5 years ago

Through a partner visa, 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)

Through a 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)

Through private life, if you: 

  • are aged between 18 and 25, and

  • have lived continuously in the UK for more than half your life

You can apply for ILR if you have held limited leave to remain on the private life route for 5 years.

Through the EUSS, once you have been continuously resident in the UK lawfully for 5 years. You can then apply for ‘settled status’, which is similar to ILR but more generous.

7 years ago

Through private life, if you: 

  • are aged under 18

  • are were born in the UK, and 

  • have spent 7 years of your life continuously residing here

10 years ago

Through a partner visa, 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)

Through a 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)

Through 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

Through 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.

Through private life, if you have been in the UK for a little less than 20 years, either lawfully or unlawfully, and there are very significant obstacles preventing you from reintegrating into your country of origin.

Through long residence (ie 10 years of continuous lawful residence) in the UK under a number of different routes.

If you have 10 years of continuous residence in the UK under Discretionary Leave.

Note that, if you are on a student or work visa, the process is different. For more information, see the government’s guidance on student visas and work visas.

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! You may be able to get ILR if you can show that just another grant of limited leave would: 

  • leave you in a precarious situation, and 

  • create such serious distress as to have a disproportionately detrimental effect on your health or welfare, which would prevent your recovery or development 

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. 

For more detailed information on ILR and ILE, read the government’s guidance on ILR. Do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about the ILR process.


Mark Lilley-Tams
Mark Lilley-Tams
Head of the Personal Immigration Team at OTB Legal

Mark is head of the Personal Immigration Team at OTB Legal and co-founded the firm. In the Times list of 200 best law firms, Mark has been described as 'renowned' for his work representing detained clients and seeking compensation. Also recognised in the independent legal directories 'Chambers and Partners' and 'The Legal 500' for his work in personal immigration matters (family type applications, long residence, British citizenship and EU Settlement Scheme).

He also has a large amount of experience of complex cases and judicial review applications, as well as appeals to the higher courts and extensive experience representing clients who are facing deprivation of their British citizenship.

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