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26 March 2024

Does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?

Those who have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain may be wondering if it can ever expire. Learn more in our guide.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Woman settled in the UK looking at Tower Bridge and wondering: 'Does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?'

Although it allows people to stay in the UK indefinitely, you may be wondering: ‘does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?’ 

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a special immigration status that people can acquire after they have been in the UK for a certain amount of time. The amount of time it takes for you to be eligible for ILR depends on your particular circumstances. 

Regardless of the type of ILR, you should know what can result in it expiring. Read on to learn more.

How does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?

If you have ILR, then it can expire if you leave the UK for an extended period of time. This also applies to Ireland and Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. 

ILR itself expires after two years of continuous absence from the UK, regardless of what your BRP card or any other documentation related to your ILR says on it.

However, if you are permanently resident in the UK, then your ILR will never expire. 

Other settlement statuses

Other than ILR, there is also the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens. The EUSS allows citizens of the aforementioned areas to remain and settle in the UK after June 2021. 

Unlike ILR, your settled status under the EUSS expires if you continuously stay outside of the UK for 5 years or more. 

However, Swiss citizens have slightly different rules, with them being able to leave the UK for up to 4 years before their EUSS status expires. 

Those with pre-settled status under the EUSS have more strict rules, with them having to stay in the UK for at least six months in a 12 month period.

Can I return to the UK if my Indefinite Leave to Remain has expired?

People who have left the UK for more than two years whilst they have ILR may be thinking ‘what do I do if my Indefinite Leave to Remain has expired?’ Luckily, there is a way you can return to the UK once your ILR has expired. 

They will need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa to be able to re-enter the UK. This also applies to those who held settled status under the EUSS.

Applying for a Returning Resident Visa

To successfully get a Returning Resident Visa, you will need to prove your strong ties to the UK. For example, any family ties you have, property you own, or how you have lived in the UK for a long time. 

Additionally, you will need to show why you left the UK, how long you left the UK for, and what your current situation is.

This visa costs £637 to apply for, and any dependants you have will need to apply separately.

Situations where your ILR will not expire

Whilst your ILR will normally expire if you have left the UK continuously for two or more years or after whichever time period applies to you, there are certain exceptions to this rule.  

The exceptions apply to the following people:

  • Members of the British armed forces stationed overseas will not lose their ILR.
  • Dependants of a member of the armed forces will also not lose their ILR.
  • Dependants of British citizens or other settled individuals who are employed with UK Government bodies such as the Home Office or Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will not lose their ILR if they travel with them overseas.
  • Commonwealth citizens covered by the Immigration Act 1971 will retain their ILR

What are the different types of ILR?

There are a few different types of ILR that you can apply for. 

The most common type takes five years to get, and is for those who have been in the UK continuously on a Skilled Worker Visa

Then, there is 10 years’ ILR, which you can get through a combination of most other visa types. 

Next, there is 3 years’ ILR, which can be applied for after being in the UK for three years on a Global Talent Visa, or an Innovator Founder Visa. This is a rarer form of ILR. 

Finally, there is 2 years’ ILR, which is only for older Tier 1 visas that have now been replaced with newer visas. This is unlikely to apply to many people anymore. 

How we can help

Anyone who is wondering ‘does Indefinite Leave to Remain expire?’ and needs assistance with returning to the UK if it has, then we can help.

If your ILR has expired and you need a Returning Resident Visa, or you just want to apply for ILR and need guidance, then you can arrange a free 10-minute consultation to discuss your problem with a member of our experienced team.  

After we have determined if we can help you or not, you can arrange a longer, paid consultation that lasts either 30 minutes, or an hour. In this, we will provide you with legal advice. 

Get in touch with us today to talk to us and see what we can do for you.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions about the changes or want legal advice, contact
Woodcock Law & Notary Public today. Contact us by phone on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or
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