USA and the UK
What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
If you are an American citizen who has been residing in the UK and you wish to make Britain your permanent residence, you could be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
ILR will allow you to be a permanent UK resident, this means that US citizens with Indefinite Leave to Remain are free to live, study and work in the UK without restrictions or a time limit.
Indefinite Leave to Remain is also often the penultimate step before becoming a British Citizen, once you have held ILR status for a year you will be eligible to apply for citizenship.
What are the requirements?
There are many strict requirements that US citizens must meet to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. These requirements differ depending on the type of visa held by the applicant.
Usually, you will have needed to have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before becoming eligible for ILR. This will need to be a continuous five years on the same visa type with no time out of the country over the Home Office limit. If you have switched visa types in these five years, you will have to remain in the UK for 10 years before becoming eligible for ILR. In some circumstances, you are only required to stay in the UK for 3 years, not 5 years, before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Some of the other requirements that citizens of the United States must meet to be granted settlement in the UK include:
- Passing the Life in the UK Test
- No criminal record or breaching of immigration rules
- No more than 180 days spent outside of the UK in 12 months during the qualifying period
Routes to ILR for US citizens
Many different UK visas can lead to settlement in the UK. After residing in the UK legally for a certain time threshold under one of these visas, you will be eligible to apply for ILR.
The UK visas that offer a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain include:
Applying for ILR as an American Citizen
You cannot be in the United States when you apply for ILR as you cannot apply from outside the UK. You can apply from within the UK using the form on the GOV.uk website.
It costs £2,389 to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. As well as this, it’s important to consider other costs such as for the fees for the Life in the UK Test. You won’t need to pay for an English language test as US citizens are exempt from having to prove their knowledge of the English language.
With your application form for ILR you will need to submit several supporting documents, these include:
- Passport and travel documents
- Birth or adoption certificates
- Documents that account for any time spent outside of the UK during your residency
- A police registration certificate if you were required to register with the police when you arrived in the UK
- A history of your immigration
- Financial information, such as bank statements
- Pass certificate of Life in the UK test
- Two identical passport-sized photographs
The time it takes for the Home Office to process an Indefinite Leave to Remain application varies, but it should be processed within 6 months.
How can IAS help?
Due to the strict requirements and the number of supporting documents required, applying for ILR can be a complex process. It’s also an expensive process and refusals from the Home Office are common due to incorrect information or insufficient evidence. Our immigration attorneys can save you time and money by making sure you get your Indefinite Leave to Remain application right the first time.
Our expert attorneys will act as your guide throughout the entire process. They can assess whether you are eligible for ILR, if you are not then they can advise you on the best routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain available to you. Our lawyers will organize all the documents and forms needed for your Indefinite Leave to Remain application, will help you to prepare you for the ‘Life in the UK test’, and will even produce a detailed Letter of Representation to support your case.
Whether you are currently in the UK, or still in the US our attorneys will be able to speak with you about your situation. Contact us today on +1844 290 6312 to find out more or start your Indefinite Leave to Remain application. Alternatively, you can use our online contact form to inquire.
What happens after my application for ILR is approved?
Once your ILR application is approved you will be allowed to remain in the UK permanently and will have also have the freedom to study and work in the UK. You will also be eligible for free healthcare with the NHS.
Once you have held your ILR status for 12 months, you will be eligible to become a British citizen. This will not happen automatically, so you will need to make an application for British Citizenship by Naturalization. If you are married to, or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen or person with settled status in the UK then you do not have to wait 12 months before you are eligible for citizenship, you can apply for British Citizenship by Marriage as soon as you have ILR.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances where your ILR status can be revoked, this includes if you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain by deception or if you have been outside the UK for over two years. So, if you do wish to return to the US but keep Britain as your permanent residence then you mustn’t spend more than two years continuously in the United States.
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To qualify for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain), you most commonly must be in the UK:
- As a partner of a UK citizen
- As a family member of a UK citizen
- On a certain type of worker in the UK
- Under continuous and long-term lawful residence
- As a person with Ancestry ties
The dependent child of a British citizen or person with settled status (ILR) may be given immediate Leave to Remain indefinitely. Refugees who are resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Programme will also receive ILR UK.
To start your ILR UK application you must already be in the UK and, in many cases, will need to demonstrate a solid knowledge of language and life in the UK. Certain applicants are exempt from this, including:
- children under the age of 18
- and other dependent relatives of those with settled status or those with refugee status
The ILR requirements include passing a ‘Life in the UK test’ and an English Language requirement. The English Language test is not required for applicants who have a degree or qualification in English. The test is also waived for nationals of an English-speaking country.
As part of the ILR UK application, you will also be required to submit your biometric information (fingerprints and facial image). This will allow you to obtain your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This will confirm your immigration status and entitlements.
If you are not yet eligible to submit your ILR UK application, you may be able to extend your current visa. This is known as Further Leave to Remain. Most visa categories can be extended, except for Visitor Visas which can only be granted for up to six months. Although there are limited circumstances in which you can switch to another visa.
You must apply for Further Leave to Remain before your current visa permission expires. If you do not, you may be considered an overstayer and will risk an order for enforced removal.
If you have been out of the UK for a continuous period of two years, you may have lost your permission for ILR.
You will need to sit a Life in the UK test as part of your ILR application if you are between the ages of 18 and 65.
This test is a standard exam to test your knowledge of British traditions, customs, history, and culture. To pass the test and make sure you satisfy this requirement for your ILR application, you must score 75% or above.
There is a fee for this test which you must pay every time you take it. You may take the test as many times as you need to.
Unfortunately, passing the Life in the UK test is not enough on its own to qualify for ILR in the UK.
You will also need to satisfy a number of other requirements. As of October 2013, passing a relevant English Language qualification is one of these. This is only required for those who are not nationals of an English-speaking country.
For full details of the requirements for an ILR application, and to make sure you meet all the requirements, speak to an immigration lawyer today.
It is highly likely that previous convictions will affect your Indefinite Leave to Remain application. However, this will depend on your individual circumstances.
If you have spent your convictions, this could still affect your application, depending on the type of conviction.
If you are concerned about any convictions you may have that would affect your application for ILR UK, speak with an immigration lawyer.
IAS has a wealth of knowledge on applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), including appeals in the event of a refusal. As the UK’s leading immigration advice firm, we have an extensive track record of successful applications for ILR UK.
Our services include:
- Liaising with you in person, over the phone or via Skype;
- Confirming your eligibility for ILR;
- Ensuring your documents are sufficient and professionally organized;
- Communicating with the Home Office throughout your application;
- Completing your application form in a high-quality and expert manner;
- Assisting you with preparing for the ‘Life in the UK test’;
- Ensuring you meet the English Language requirement if necessary.
Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at IAS to start your application for the Indefinite Leave to Remain as soon as possible. You can use our online inquiry form or call us on +1844 290 6312.
Alternatively, visit UK immigration advice for U.S. citizens for information about other routes for moving to the UK from the U.S.