Some foreign nationals who have been in the UK with permission for a certain amount of time will be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If an applicant is given indefinite leave to remain they have the right of permanent residence in the UK – this is also known as settlement.
Foreign nationals will usually have to have been in the UK continuously for between two to five years before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Whether or not they are eligible will depend on the type of visa under which they were given permission to come to the UK.
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
Applicants will usually have to show that they have an appropriate knowledge of the English language and of UK culture. Applications should not be made more than 28 days before the end of the period for which they have permission to be in the UK but must be made before that period ends. Application forms, and guidance notes on completing them, can be downloaded from the UK border Agency website.
Applications Based on UK Family Ties
Applications by married, or unmarried, partners and those in civil partnerships should be made using form SET(M). Applicants must have lived in the UK with permission for two years and still be married. A joint application for dependent children under 18 may be made on the same form. Applicants whose spouse or civil partner has died may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(O) and there is no minimum qualifying period of residence.
Victims of domestic abuse can apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(DV). To be granted indefinite leave to remain they must have come to the UK, with permission, as the partner of a UK resident. The applicant must also have been in the UK for a period of two years during which time the relationship broke down due to domestic violence.
Other family members may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form SET(F). This form is for applications by children under 18 as well as parents, grandparents and other dependent family members of UK residents. Applicants in this category cannot include their own dependents on the form.
Applications based on UK ancestry should be made using form SET(O).
Applications by Workers
Whether or not someone in the UK on a work permit or visa is entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain will depend on the type of visa they have. Foreign citizens on the following types of work visas may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after they have been in the UK continuously for five years:
- Highly skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors or Tier 1 under the new points-based system which is being introduced from 2008 onwards;
- Sponsored skilled workers (Tier 2 under the new system).
Applications for indefinite leave to remain by those in the above categories should be made using form SET(O).
Applications by EU Citizens
Citizens of EU countries who have lived in the UK continuously for five years may apply for confirmation of permanent residence using form EEA3.
Applicants from Turkey
Turkish citizens who set up a business in the UK pursuant to the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form ECAA Turkey (Main) after they have been in the UK for four years. Their dependent family may apply using form ECAA Turkey (Dep).
Applicants from Bulgaria and Romania
Bulgarian and Romanian citizens who came to the UK under the terms of the ECAA to set up a business may apply for indefinite leave to remain using form ECAA(4), which is also sometimes referred to as ECAA(ILR), once they have been in the UK for five years. The ECAA ceased to apply to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania once these countries joined the EU in January 2007 but applications may still be made under this category by people who came to the UK prior to that date.