Which type of visa leads to settlement?

Most visa categories can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, for instance, the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, Innovator, Representative of an Overseas Business, Tier 2 (General) visa, UK Ancestry as well as applications made pursuant to Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. The most notable categories that do not lead to settled status are the Tier 2 ICT, Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme and Tier 4 General Scheme.

How many years do you spend in the UK to obtain ILR?

  • Tier 1 (Investor) visa:

1) Invest 10 million – 2 years

2) Invest 5 million – 3 years

3) Invest 2 million – 5 years

  • Innovator visa – 3 years, subject to meeting the criteria
  • Representative of an Overseas Business – 5 years
  • Tier 2 (General) visa – 5 years (Tier 2 ICT does not lead to settlement)
  • UK Ancestry visa – 5 years
  • Spouse visa – 5 years
  • Long Residence – 10 years
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa – 5 years (accelerated route – 3 years when for instance creating 10 new jobs etc). To be noted that since this category has been removed, a migrant will only be able to settle if an application is made prior to 6 April 2025.


The main criteria of Indefinite Leave to Remain

In order to qualify ILR, applicants have to meet the following main requirements:

  • Must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal, and must not be an illegal entrant;
  • Must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws except that paragraph 39E of Immigration Rules applies;
  • Have been living in the UK lawfully for a continuous period of 5 years ( but this varies according to the visa category);
  • Must not spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 months during the qualifying period;
  • English language requirement – Level B1;
  • Pass the Life in the UK Test;
  • Specific requirements of the visa category.


Indefinite leave can also be revoked if you:

  • are liable to deportation;
  • obtained leave by deception;
  • were granted leave as a refugee and cease to be a refugee


Your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for 2 or more years (5 or more, if granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) at a time.

Naturalising as a British citizen after ILR under section 6(1)

A migrant is able to apply for British citizenship once he/she has held ILR for a full 12 months period (unless married or the civil partner of a British citizen).

If you are NOT married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you will need to meet the requirements for the Section 6(1) under the British Nationality Act 1981:

1. Be a person of a good character;

2. Must not have any unspent convictions;

3. An applicant must be aged 18 or over;

4. Must intend to continue living in the UK;

5. An applicant must be able to communicate in English and have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK;

6. Each applicant must meet the residential requirements, such as:

  • Been resident in the UK for the last five years;
  • Been present in the UK five years before the date of your application;
  • Not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five-years period;
  • Not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months;
  • Not been in breach of the Immigration Rules at any stage during the five-year period.


Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of Indefinite Leave to Remain application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.


The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.