Indefinite Leave to Remain – all you need to know

SA Migration – 11-08-2022

Ever wondered what the difference between Indefinite Leave to Remain and citizenship is? SA Migration has answers to some of your questions.

Indefinite Leave to Remain – all you need to know: Image: Adobe stock

Indefinite Leave to Remain, or ILR in short,  is the stepping stone to British citizenship. However, many people get confused between ILR and citizenship. 

SA Migration have subsequently compiled short guidance on all that you need to know about ILR.

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR is the immigration term that confirms there is no longer any time limit on your ability to stay in the UK.

When you have ILR, and your home is in the UK, the Home Office regards you as settled in the UK.

A person with the status of ILR has the right to live and work in the UK without immigration restrictions. They may also leave and enter the UK without any immigration restrictions imposed on them.

How does one obtain ILR?

One does not automatically receive ILR but has to apply for the status of ILR.

There are various ways to meet the time requirement to qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Some examples are:

  • Spending five years on the UK Ancestral route;
  • Completing five years as the holder of a UK settlement visa;
  • Spending five years on an immigration route such as the Skilled Worker Visa;
  • Long residence stays will allow you to apply for ILR if you have been in the UK legally for ten continuous years in visa categories that would not normally lead to ILR.

Are there other requirements to fulfil before I can apply for ILR?

To qualify, most persons applying for ILR applicants must pass a Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test (KoLL).  

To fulfil this requirement, you have two complete two tests, unless exempt:

  • To pass the Life in the UK test; and
  • To have an English speaking and listening qualification at the B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

ILR applicants under 18 years or older than 65 do not need to fulfil the KOLL requirement. The Home Office also has the discretion to exempt applicants from this requirement, dependent on special circumstances.

What will my Biometric Residence Permit say if I have ILR?

If you are settled in the UK, your BRP will have one of the following statuses printed on it:

  • “Indefinite Leave to Remain”
  • “Indefinite Leave to Enter”
  • “No time limit”

Will there be any work restrictions when I have ILR?

When you have ILR, you have the right to work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. You can work in the UK in any business, profession or employment, including self-employment.

You are also free to open your own business.

What if I have children while in the UK on ILR?

If you have a child in the UK while you have the status of ILR, they will normally be a British citizen automatically at birth.

Can I lose my ILR?

It is possible to lose your status of ILR if you have been absent from the UK for longer than two years. A person would normally be considered no longer settled in the UK, and the Home Office can revoke your ILR status. However, it is possible to apply as a Returning Resident under certain circumstances, should you have lost your ILR.

You can also lose your ILR status if you commit a serious offence in the UK and get deported. It is also possible to lose your ILR if the Home Office finds out you have obtained the leave by deception.

Please speak to your SA Migration consultant for more advice if you think you have possibly lost your ILR status.

How do I proceed to become a British citizen?

You can normally apply for British citizenship after living in the UK for at least twelve months after getting your ILR. You will, of course, have to fulfil certain criteria.

In some circumstances, persons do not need to meet the twelve-month qualifying period to apply. Please speak to your SA Migration consultant for more advice in this regard.

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