Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years in the UK?

After living, working or studying in the UK for a long time, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after 5 years of continuously living in the country. If you’ve made your life here then this likely is something that you’ll be seriously thinking about, and our expert immigration solicitors can help you with this process.

Contact us today for a chat about your situation.


(ILR) Indefinite Leave to remain after 5 Years


Am I eligible to apply for ILR after 5 years?

Indefinite leave to remain permits you to stay in the UK without visa restrictions and after 12 months of holding this status, you will be able to apply to naturalise as a British citizen.

To be eligible, you must have completed a period of continuous residence in the UK under a valid visa. You must have been in the UK for a minimum of 5 years if you are on one of the below type of visas, before applying for ILR:

  • Unmarried partner visa
  • EEA Family permit
  • UK Ancestry visa
  • Tier 2 Visa (in limited circumstances)

There are exceptions to this 5 year rule.

You can apply for ILR after being on a tier 1 investor visa after 2, 3 or 5 years depending on the level of investment. You can apply for ILR after a a tier 1 entrepreneur visa after 3 or 5 years depending on the business activity, and after a tier 1 exceptional talent visa after 3 years.

Read more about indefinite leave to remain or settlement visas

In addition to being in the UK under one of these visas, you must also fulfil some basic requirements that include:

  • Being able to prove that you have no unspent convictions
  • Being able to prove that you can still meet the required English language standard
  • Being able to prove that you can pass the life in the UK test
  • Being able to meet the ‘good character’ requirement

If you are unsure whether you can fulfil all of these requirements, get in touch with us for expert immigration advice before submitting your application.

What documents will I need to apply for ILR after 5 years?

The documentation that you will need to submit to apply for ILR after 5 years will need to prove how long you have been in the UK and provide evidence of the life that you have been leading. These documents can include:

  • An English language test certificate
  • A ‘Life in the UK’ pass certificate
  • Proof of your identity, such as your current passport or travel documents
  • Proof of your continuous residence, such as council tax statements, utility bills, mortgage statements or tenancy agreements
  • Recent bank statements
  • Recent payslips

One of the key things you need to be able to prove when applying for ILR after 5 years is that you have not spent 180 days or more outside of the UK in the 12 months prior to submitting your application.

There are some allowable absences that include:

  • Serious illness of either you or a close relative
  • A natural disaster that prevents you from returning
  • A conflict abroad that prevents you from returning

Proving these absences can require the following documentation:

  • Travel documents that prove disruption
  • Medical notes
  • Birth or death certificates

Cases where you have been required to travel abroad for business are unlikely to count towards your 180-day allocation, but it is a good idea to obtain a letter from your employer that details the reasons why you were absent from the UK. You should also mention what your annual leave allowance is. Because of the importance of these applications, they are often viewed on a case-by-case basis, and having professional advice prior to presenting your case is always advised.

Can my dependants also apply?

If one or both of the parents of a child hold indefinite leave to remain, any children who are under the age of 18 can apply regardless of how long they have been in the UK. If your children are on a dependent visa, then they will need to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as you.

This is very important because if they do not then they will lose their dependent visa status when you are granted indefinite leave to remain. They would then only be able to apply for ILR after 5 years.

Contact Us

Our immigration solicitors are highly qualified in this area and are able to offer help no matter how complicated you may feel your application is. We can assess, simplify and instruct on how to create the best application possible and make your process to indefinite leave as smooth as possible.

Get in touch for expert help today.

Starting the process couldn’t be more simple!

  • Contact us Contact us Get in touch however suits you best and arrange a consulation with one of our solicitors
  • Meet an expert Meet an expert You’ll meet the expert solicitor assigned to your case and discuss all the necessary details
  • Authorise Authorise Once we’ve got all the details of your case and you’re happy to proceed, just give us the go-ahead
  • We get to work We get to work It’s time for us to get to work! We’ll set up your file on our system and get to work right away
We’re with you, every step of the way