Indefinite Leave to Remain

Acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) leads to citizenship, and is the end goal for many immigrants.

Home > UK Visas > Extensions & Settlement > Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

A quick look

There is no limit to how long you can stay with UK Indefinite Leave to Remain. You are usually able to apply for full citizenship after having ILR for 12 months.

No, ILR does not need to be accompanied by a Sponsor Licence.

Yes, ILR qualifies you to do work in the UK.

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain

There are many reasons people wish to settle in the UK. They might move for economic reasons, to be with family or to live with a spouse/partner. These things often lead people to seek British citizenship, whereby they become legally recognised by the UK government as a member of British society.

The Government has more information about Indefinite Leave to Remain on their website,

How do you get British citizenship?

The path to gaining British citizenship is a long one, and involves a number of steps. Immigrants in the UK need to have lived here for a number of years before they can be considered citizens and, before they apply for citizenship (via a process called naturalisation) they must first have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain UK?

An individual with Indefinite Leave to Remain has no time restrictions on their stay. They can live and work in the UK for as long as they like, without needing a visa extension. They are also free to leave and return to the UK without any immigration restrictions. 

For EU nationals living in the UK for five years before 31 December 2020, ILR (also known as Settled Status) was likely gained through the Settled Status Scheme. EU nationals who arrived before then, but had not been living in the UK for five years would have been eligible to apply for Pre-settled Status. This lets them stay in the UK for 5 years, then they can apply for settled status. 

What criteria must I meet?

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain can only be granted to an individual after they demonstrate that they meet certain criteria. These are:

  • Lived in the UK for a number of years (usually five) 
  • Passed a ‘Life in the UK’ test
  • Maintained good character throughout their stay
  • Demonstrated a good level of English speaking ability
  • Spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in a 12 month period

What do you need before you can apply?

Before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, an individual must first have the right to remain in the UK for the length of time required for their application. Below is a list of visa types that can lead to gaining ILR:

  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Spouse Visa
  • Unmarried Spouse Visa
  • Family Visa
  • Global Talent Visa
  • Investor Visa
  • Innovator Visa 
  • Start-up Visa
  • Skilled-Worker Visa
  • Sportsperson Visa
  • Minister of Religion Visa
  • Intra-company Transfer Visa
  • UK Ancestry Visa
  • Retired Person Visa
  • Long Residence Visa
  • Returning Residence Visa


When you are in the position to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, and you are confident that you meet the requirements, you must send your application from inside the UK. It is also important that applications must not be sent more than 28 days before the qualifying length of time. This can risk the success of your application. 

What happens when a UK Indefinite Leave to Remain application is successful?

If an application is successful, you will receive a new Biometric Residence Card (BRP) which will detail your new rights granted by your new ILR status. Your employer will also have to carry out a new Right to Work check, after which there will be no need for you to have a sponsor.

One year after the Indefinite Leave to Remain is issued, you can apply for naturalisation, which gives you the rights of a full British citizen and enables you to apply for a British passport.  

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The information contained on this page is sourced from UK Visas and Immigration and is subject to change. While Woodcock Law Limited makes every effort to keep this information current, prices and information cannot be guaranteed and should always be checked on www.gov.uk.

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