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Indefinite Leave to Remain/ Settlement

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a settlement status accessible to foreign nationals.

Typically, individuals must have resided in the UK for a minimum of five years to be eligible for ILR, although there are circumstances where one can apply after just three years or even two.

Various immigration visa categories can lead to ILR, including Spouse Visas, Innovator Visas, and the Skilled Worker Visa.

ILR grants individuals the right to live in the UK without any immigration restrictions, marking the initial step toward naturalization and full British citizenship.

ILR exemptions

Certain individuals will not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain to be granted with settled UK status, including:

  • Those eligible for British citizenship by descent (or other form of automatic citizenship)
  • Child dependents of a British citizen or person with settled status.
  • An adult dependent who is reliant on the long-term care of their family member who is a British citizen or person with settled status.
  • Refugees resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Program

Various Paths to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

If you have been residing lawfully in the UK under a specific settlement visa, you can apply for ILR once you meet the minimum time requirement for that particular visa category. Additionally, you must satisfy other specified criteria.

Visas and routes that can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain status encompass:

  • Spouse Visa
  • Unmarried Partner Visa
  • Family Visa
  • Global Talent Visa
  • Investor Visa (Tier 1)
  • Innovator Visa
  • Start-Up Visa
  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Sportsperson Visa (T2)
  • Minister of Religion Visa (T2)
  • Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
  • UK Ancestry Visa
  • Retired Person Visa
  • Long residence
  • Returning resident
 

It’s also possible for individuals to become eligible for ILR through alternative routes that do not necessitate holding a specific visa.

British Protected Persons Status: An Overview

Being a British protected person implies a state of effective statelessness, residing in a territory that was once controlled by the British Empire. While you possess a British passport, you lack direct access to British citizenship. The UK government designates three primary reasons for holding this status, with eligibility criteria as of January 1, 1983:

  1. You were a citizen or national of Brunei.
  2. You already held protected person status.
  3. You were born stateless in the UK or one of its overseas territories, and one of your parents was a British protected person.

Historical Background of British Protected Persons

During the expansion of the British Empire, it incorporated numerous territories. However, the Empire chose not to formally annex all of them but designated some as foreign land under British protection.

Residents of these territories technically lived in foreign territory, so they were not British citizens. Yet, they were also not situated within independent countries.

The British Empire inadvertently rendered many individuals stateless, and the concept of protected persons was created to provide them with a form of nationality.

The current British Protected Person status was established in 1981 under the British Nationality Act.

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa

The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa, introduced in January 2021, is a novel UK visa option accessible to all British nationals residing overseas. This visa pathway permits British National Overseas citizens in Hong Kong to live, study, or work in the UK. Successful applicants can also bring certain family members to the UK.

Applicants can opt for either a 2-year and 6-month BNO Visa or a 5-year visa. This visa serves as a route to settlement for overseas nationals in Hong Kong. After 5 years of lawful UK residence, BNO visa holders become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. It also paves the way for British citizenship, which can be sought after holding ILR for a minimum of 12 months.

Applications can be submitted from both within and outside the UK.