Sometimes perhaps confusingly, there are multiple terms all referring to the same thing: “Settlement”, “Permanent Residence” and “Indefinite Leave to Remain”. But what they all refer to is the right to permanently live and work in the UK - although it is important to note that absence from the UK for 2 years or more will normally automatically result in losing this status. For convenience, in this newsletter, we will refer to it simply as “ILR” (i.e. Indefinite Leave to Remain).
How do you qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
There are various ways in which an individual can qualify for ILR, but for the majority of our clients, the main routes are either the 5-year working route (i.e. 5 years spent on Skilled Worker, Tier 2 (General) or Sole Representative) or the 10-year lawful residence route.
The 10-year lawful residence route is less common for our clients than the working route, and in summary, the main requirement is that the applicant has lived in the UK lawfully (i.e. with a visa or other appropriate permission to be in the UK) for a consecutive period of 10 years. This time can be spent on any combination of visas - e.g. it could be that 2 years is spent on a Youth Mobility Visa, followed by 2 years on a working visa, then 4 years spent on a student visa, and then finally 2 years on a graduate visa. That then amounts to 10 years in total and therefore allows the ILR application to be made. Clearly, due to the length of time required, it is not necessarily a “convenient” option in terms of planning in advance to obtain ILR in the UK. But, if an applicant did not necessarily have any initial plans for the UK but by chance has found themselves staying for a long period of time, then they may find that the 10-year route to ILR is then within reach.
Which visa route is commonly used that leads to ILR?
More commonly, the working visa route is used as a strategy for obtaining ILR in the UK, as only 5 years stay is required. The Sole Representative visa is not open to new applicants, but those already in the UK are able to extend their stay if eligible and therefore reach the necessary 5 years. Alternatively, it is necessary to hold either the Tier 2 (General) or the Skilled Worker (which replaced the Tier 2 (General) route) visa for 5 years (including any combination of those two, i.e. starting on Tier 2 (General) and then extending into Skilled Worker, and certain other categories can also be combined). With the Skilled Worker visa available on a wide basis, including to lower skilled roles and lower salary levels than were previously allowed under Tier 2 (General), this potentially opens the option of ILR to significantly more applicants than was possible in previous years.
Which criteria must be satisfied to qualify for this route?
The key eligibility criteria for this route are:
- Pass the Life in the UK Test;
- Sponsor must continue to hold a Sponsor Licence for the Skilled Worker category
- Sponsor must confirm that they intend to continue employing the applicant for the foreseeable future
- Salary must be at least £25,600 per year, or the going rate for the job code applicable to the applicant, whichever is higher (other than some rare exceptions)
- Applicant must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any rolling 12 month period (other than some rare exceptions).
How 3CS can help
Recognised by the Legal500 as a leading team in the UK, the 3CS Immigration Team is very familiar with the various routes to ILR and regularly assists clients in making successful applications to allow their permanent residence in the UK. This newsletter is of course only a brief summary, and our team will be pleased to offer you specific advice tailored to your situation. For further information on work visas, or any other immigration matter please contact a member of our team.