Indefinite Leave to Remain: The Three and Five Year Routes to Settlement

Freedom from Immigration Controls

Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years or 3 years means that a person no longer needs to apply to extend their leave in the UK. They are allowed to stay here indefinitely - they are 'settled' in the UK. It is the most secure immigration status in the UK except for British Citizenship.

In most cases, you must live legally in the UK for 5 years without long absences in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Certain types of visa do not allow you to apply for Indefinite Leave, for example Student visas or Intra-Company Tier 2 visas.

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 3 years if you are here:

  • In certain Tier 1 categories or as an Innovator or Global Talent migrant

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years if you are here:

  • As a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, or their Dependant
  • As the partner, child or parent of a British or settled person
  • On an Ancestry visa

You will need to pass two tests - the Life in the UK Test and an English Language test.

You must still satisfy all the requirements needed for your current visa status. If you cannot do this, you may have to move to the 'Ten Year Route to Settlement.'

Without Indefinite Leave to Remain you cannot apply for British Citizenship on this route. If you are married to a British Citizen, you can apply for British Citizenship as soon as you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. If you are not, you must wait 12 months before applying for Citizenship.

Working with us

We can calculate when you are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and assess whether you are likely to be successful. After an initial consultation, we will advise you and list the documents we need from you. Having prepared the application with all the correct evidence, we write legal representations to the Home Office to ensure your application is properly considered by the Home Office. We submit the application on your behalf, and do the hard work for you.

We work on a fixed fee basis. This means that we do not work by adding up the hours we spend on your matter and then charging you. The price is given to you for the job beforehand. So we are transparent about our costs and you have certainty. See our costs page.

How does the process work?

Once your application is submitted, you will need to visit a visa application centre near you to have your fingerprints and photo taken. The decision will take up to six months to come from the Home Office and you will receive a Biometric Residence Card that proves your new Indefinite Leave to Remain status.

"If you have immigration problems then look no further, I for sure will be using her [Angela's] services again in the future."

Paul Bore

We offer a special discount if you instruct us to do both your Indefinite Leave to Remain application and a subsequent British Citizen Application. See our costs page.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have been here as the wife of a British Citizen for three years. I thought I could apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain now?

No. The law has changed. You now need to be in the UK for five years before applying.

I would find the Life in the UK Test and English Language tests too difficult to pass. Is there any way around this?

You are exempt from passing the two tests if you are over 65 years old or if you have a health or learning difficulty that prevents you from taking and passing the tests. If you have lived here for 15 years you may be able to claim exemption from the tests under certain conditions.

I have spent lots of time outside the UK for work over the last five years. Will this affect my application?

If you have spent longer than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period, you will need to provide evidence to the Home Office that these absences were due to your work in the UK.

Get in touch
Freedom from Immigration Controls
If you want to know more about the three and five year routes to settlement, call us or email. We offer an initial free 20 minute advice session with one of our team.
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  • A BIG THANK YOU , for your help in helping me acquire my British settlement and British citizenship application successfully done. Your professionalism and kind warm attitude and nature made this process very easy and stress free. You took all my concerns away. 

    My Lawyer, Sallie Davies, is very knowledgeable and competent and I have implicit trust in her. The fees are also reasonable compared to other law firms. I highly recommend Sallie and her team.
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  • I would like to thank both of you, Sallie and Karen for your assistance in the way you handled my wife's Spouse Visa Extension to remain here with me in the United Kingdom. We will recommend The Immigration Legal Services here in Ipswich to anybody who wants to apply for a visa to come or remain here in the United Kingdom because the service they provided proved to be most reliable, simple and quick process. Much appreciated Sallie and Karen. Thanking you once again. We will be back again.
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