UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Overview

We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visas, also known as settlement or permanent residence.

The normal qualifying period to obtain ILR is 5 years. However if one is married to a British citizen, then the qualifying period is 2 years. However, not every visa category is counted as “qualifying” for ILR. For instance, time spent in the UK on a Working Holiday visa or a student visa does not count.

The following visa categories DO count towards the 5 year qualifying period;

• Tier 1 (General)
• Tier 2 (General)
• Work permit
• Tier 1 (Investor)
• Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
• Ancestral visa
• Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

You can obtain your qualifying 5 years by living in the UK on one of these visas or a combination of these visas. However, applicants need to note that EEA visas and residence cards cannot be used in combination with any of the above categories to apply for ILR.
EEA visas and residence cards can lead to permanent residence in their own right under EEA law but not ILR through UK immigration.

Absences in the 5 Years

The main residence requirement is that the applicant has been living in the UK throughout the qualifying period.

All absences from the UK need to be declared in the application. The UK Border Agency will of course disregard short absences for annual leave every year or for business trips.

New guidance has been issued to UK Border Agency case officers in April 2011 on calculating the continuous period in the UK and permitted absences.

The guidance states that discretion can be used where absences are for up to 3 months for a single absence or total absences of up to 6 months. The UK Border Agency can look at longer absences where these were for;

“compelling grounds either of a compassionate nature of for reasons related to the applicant’s employment or business in the UK”.

As detailed in their guidance, the case officer will want to see that;

“the applicant has clearly continued to be based in the UK“

Proof of employment, self-employment throughout the 5 years

The applicant needs to provide evidence to show that they were employed or self-employed in the UK or otherwise resident here in accordance with the terms of their visa.

So, for instance, Ancestral visa holders need to show that they have been working or self-employed in the UK throughout the qualifying 5 years – i.e. that the visa holder complied with the terms of their visa throughout the 5 years.

This previously was a very flexible requirement. However it is now being viewed much more strictly by the UK Border Agency. Applicants need to be diligent in compiling as much material as possible throughout the 5 years. Many applicants may need assistance in this situation especially where a previous employer is no longer trading or in providing the correct proof of self-employment.

Applicants married to British citizens do not usually need to show employment or self-employment throughout the qualifying period.

Criminal convictions

In 2011, the government issued much more stringent rules relating to any criminal convictions when applying for ILR.

In short, an applicant cannot have any “unspent convictions” when applying for ILR. Most convictions become “spent” after a set period of time passes. This has proved a major hindrance for many applicants who may only have been convicted of a minor offence.

Please contact us, in strictest confidence, if you wish to see if a criminal conviction is seen as “unspent” and when it can be “spent”.

Life in the UK Test

Unless exempt through age or disability, applicants need to sit the Life in the UK Test. This is available at centres throughout the UK and is designed to test applicants’ knowledge of UK society, history, politics and government.

The test is not seen as particularly onerous – however applicants should take some time to prepare and read the recommended text book on “Life in the UK”

If you are applying for ILR on the basis of an initial application through the old HSMP visa category, then please contact us so we can see if you need to sit the Life in the UK Test.

Spouses, Partners, Children

Previously, applicants could include their spouse, partners or children on their ILR application. Once declared on the application they would be granted ILR with the main applicant regardless of how long they had lived together.

The rights of dependents changed in 2011, when the government removed the automatic rights of spouses and partners to apply at the same time.

We now have to prove that spouses or partners have been living at the same address as the main applicant for a minimum of 2 years before they can apply for ILR.

2011 changes and future developments

The following are some of the main changes to apply for ILR announced in 2011, and future proposals

• Applicants applying for ILR whose current visa is Tier 1 (General) are now points tested. This is a major change from the previous position where applicants just needed to show they were economically active through employment or self-employment. The new system requires the applicants to pass a points test based on age, qualifications and most importantly – recent earnings.

• Applicants applying for ILR whose current visa is Tier 2 (General) need to provide specific documents to show that they are being paid at the correct rate of pay for their occupation’s code of practice.

• Revised guidance has been published on absences from the UK throughout the qualifying period for ILR.

• The government is consulting on changing settlement rights for those in the UK on employment routes such as Tier 1 and Tier 2. The proposals could remove the right for some migrants to apply for ILR after 5 years.

• A recent consultation on family migration has proposed increasing the residence period for ILR for spouses and partners from 2 to 5 years.

Retaining ILR

Once granted, ILR allows the holder to remain indefinitely or permanently in the UK. After living in the UK for another 1 year, the applicant may be eligible to obtain UK citizenship.

The main requirement to retain ILR is to continue living in the UK.

Any absences of more than 2 years at any one time outside of the UK, can result in one’s ILR being revoked.

Our ILR service

We have many years experience in securing ILR for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, allow permanent residence and is a very important step on the route to British citizenship.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish. The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statement, submission to the authorities and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your visa is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect.

At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

We can then review in full and get back to you

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on UK immigration changes;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/contact_us.html

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