Settlement in the UK


Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is also referred to as ‘permanent residence’ in the UK. An applicant can qualify having spent either two years* in the UK as the partner/spouse of a British citizen or someone present and settled in the UK or having spent five years in a working visa category in the UK.


* Please note that as of 9 July 2012 the probationary period for the migrant spouses and partners will be extended from two to five years.


Spouses and partners


In the case of ILR eligibility for spouses, civil or unmarried partners of UK citizens there is no specific requirement in the Rules that the entire probationary period leading to settlement must be spent in the United Kingdom. For example, where an applicant has spent a limited period outside of the United Kingdom in connection with his/her employment, this should not count against the applicant. However, if they have spent the majority of the period overseas, there may be reason to doubt that all the requirements of the Rules have been met. In such instances each case must be judged on its merits.


Tier 1 & Tier 2 Employment visa categories


Leave under the Tier 1 (General, Entrepreneur and Investor) & Tier 2 (General) categories of the Points-Based categories lead to settlement in the UK. Upon completion of five years of residence in the UK, you are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.


Tier 1 General holders will need to comply with paragraph 245CD of the Rules whereby they will need to score 75 points if their last visa was granted before 19 July 2010 or 80 points for applications made post 19 July 2010 in terms of age, academic qualification, earnings and UK experience.


Under the Tier 2 General of the Points-Based Scheme, applicants must have spent a continuous period of five years lawfully in the UK, of which the most recent period must have been spent with leave as a Tier 2 Migrant. In addition, all Tier 2 (General) migrants applying for settlement will need to provide a letter from the Sponsor certifying that:


  • they still require the applicant for the employment in question and;
  • they are paid at or above the appropriate rate for the job, on the date of application for settlement, as stated in the codes of practice for Tier 2 Sponsors.


From 6 April 2012 those coming to the UK under the Tier 2 General category to fill in a graduate position with a salary below £35,000 per annum will not be able to settle in the UK. Furthermore, their leave in the UK will be limited to 6 years after which time they will have to leave the country.


Fast Track to Settlement for Entrepreneurs and Investors


Successful entrepreneurs who create 10 jobs for resident workers or have a turnover of £5 million will be able to qualify for settlement on completion of 3 years in the UK.


Similarly those under the Tier 1 investor category who made an investment of £5 million will be eligible to settle in the UK after 3 years, with £10 million investment bringing the minimum residence time down to 2 years instead of 5 under the ‘old’ rules.


Criminality requirement


The UK Border Agency applies a strict criminality threshold for settlement which means that applicants will need to be free of unspent conviction when applying for settlement. Applicants must disclose, among other things, all criminal convictions that have not yet been spent and civil proceedings made against them in the UK or any other country including any criminal convictions for which they have not yet been tried in court.




The UK Government imposes strict residence criteria for those sponsored under the Tier 1 and Tier 2 General categories. Migrants are allowed absences of no more than 180 days over the 5 years period, excluding the business trips and holidays.


However, those under the entrepreneur and investor categories are expected to spend 9 out of 12 months in the UK with maximum absences of up to 180 days per year.


British nationality


After completing 12 months on ILR you may be eligible to apply for naturalisation as a UK citizen. This usually involves meeting the requirements of section 6 (1) and Schedule 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981, or section 6 (2) on the basis of your marriage/civil partnership to a British Citizen.


Please note that new forms and new fees are constantly updated for settlement applications. If you are concerned that you might not meet the provisions listed above or provide the mandatory evidence in support of your application, please feel free to contact us to seek professional legal advice.


Speak to one of our Settlement in the UK visa consultants now to discuss your tailor made visa solution. Call us on +44 20 3384 3075, email: [email protected] or use contact form below.

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