All Blog Videos Webinars
26 January 2024

10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain: a guide

The 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain route is one of the ways you can try to live in the UK forever. Learn all about it in our informative blog.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
A house with a door painted like to Union Jack to represent settlement through 10 years' Indefinite Leave to Remain

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is the main way for immigrants in the UK to be able to naturalise and gain British citizenship. It comes in two forms, 5 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain, and 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

Time spent in a British prison, or in any Crown Dependency of the UK such as the Isle of Mann, does not count towards ILR.

The 5 year route is often discussed more than the 10 year route. Essentially, people must have remained in the UK on one or more visas for either 5 or 10 years. 

In this blog, we aim to tell you the requirements of the 10 year Indefinite Leave to Remain route, and how it differs from the 5 year route.

10 years' Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements

To get 10 years’ ILR, you will need to have been in the UK for 10 years on the basis of long residence. Also, as of 11 April 2024, you will need to be on a visa that lasts over a year to be able to apply for 10 years’ ILR. 

There are no specific types of visas you need to have had to qualify for 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain. You just need to have been in the UK on any type of visa for 10 years; it does not even have to be the same type of visa for the whole 10 years.

Additionally, time spent whilst exempt from immigration control, and time that EEA citizens spent in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 under the right to reside as part of the Immigration Regulations 2016, both count towards 10 years’ ILR.  

Please note that the Standard Visitor Visa, Short-term Study Visa, and Seasonal Worker Visa do not count towards ILR. 

Also, there are some other requirements that you have to meet:

Finally, to qualify as having 10 years’ continuous residence in the UK, you must:

  • Not leave the UK for more than 180 days in a 12-month period
  • Not have overstayed on a past visa
  • Not have any past criminal convictions or have any other grounds for refusal

If you left the UK before 11 April 2024, then the old rules of having a maximum number of 184 days in a 12-month period, with an overall 548 days in the last 10 years still apply

There are situations where your continuous residence may have been broken for valid reasons, which the Home Office will take into consideration. 

How absences affect your 10 years' Indefinite Leave to Remain

As previously mentioned, if you leave the UK for more than 180 days in a 12-month period, you will not be able to get ILR, as it will break your continuous long residency. 

However, there are situations where if you leave the UK for more than 180 days, you will still be able to apply for 10 years’ ILR, as your continuous residency will not be classed as broken.

These situations are:

  • You went overseas to help with a humanitarian or environmental disaster and had permission from your sponsor
  • Travel was disrupted by a natural disaster, conflict, or pandemic
  • Compassionate circumstances, such as your or a family member had a life-threatening illness, or a family member has died
  • Research activity on a Skilled Worker Visa approved by your sponsor; this only applies to specific roles, such as scientist roles, researchers, and higher education teaching professionals
  • Research activity by a holder of a Global Talent Visa that has been endorsed by The Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, or UK Research and Innovation
  • Global Talent Visa holders who qualified on the basis of winning a prestigious prize who are carrying out research 
  • Absent for work, study, or to support family overseas, as long as the family have maintained a family life and remained resident in the UK
  • Outside the UK with your partner who is a member of HM Armed Forces, an employee of the UK Government, or a permanent member of the British Council

If the above situations apply to you, then your continuous residency will not be impacted.

Please note that time you have spent in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands does not count towards long residence, and you may be classed as absent if you spend over 180 days in a year there. 

How 5 years' Indefinite Leave to Remain is different

Unlike 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain, 5 years does not let you settle after holding nearly any visa. You must have reached 5 years of residence on certain visas, which are:

If you have held a few different visas, then you can combine the time you spent on certain ones to reach the 5 years of residence for ILR. 

It should be noted that time spent in the UK on Family Visas cannot be combined with any other visa. The same applies to the Ancestry Visa.

Those who have held a Skilled Worker Visa can combine the time spent on it with:

Also, unlike 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain, you cannot leave the UK for any more than 180 days. 

Finally, you will need to continue to meet the financial requirements of whatever visa you are currently on.

How we can help

Our team of immigration experts can help you with your application for 10 years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain, as well as applying for anything else related to UK immigration, such as a visa. 

A member of our team will guide you from start to finish, and will act as your dedicated point of contact. They will do everything possible to ensure that your application is successful.

Get in touch with us today for a free 10-minute consultation with a member of our team.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

Are you looking for notarial services?

We assist both individuals and businesses with a range of notarial services. For more information about how we might be able to help, head over to our dedicated notary site.