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 permission to live 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 on this route, for example Student visas or Senior Specialist Worker visas. 

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

  • In certain work 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 Skilled Worker and their Dependants (previously Tier 2 General) except Senior Specialist Workers
  • 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 compelling or compassionate circumstances (such as illness or pandemics) or that your work was involved with humanitarian or environmental disasters or scientific research.

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.
Contact us
  • We couldn't praise Sallie and her team high enough. Extremely professional and acted very fast to meet our deadline. 100% recommended!
    Mr E
  • Always thorough and highly professional throughout the application process for both my children, and I would definitely recommend! They also had a welcome sense of humour when it came to dealing with the bureaucracy involved in the process.
    Mr B
  • Great experience working with Sallie. Professional and understanding! Will work with her again, with no doubt.
    Ms L
  • We have been very impressed with the service we have received over the years of dealing with Angela. She went above and beyond to solve our specialised problem with very pleasing results. We would strongly recommend her work and knowledge in the field. A true professional.
    Mr Aldalis
  • I highly recommend Sallie for her professionalism and lovable, kind approach. I am very happy to get her as my immigration lawyer for processing my kids Visa.
    Shiva K
  • I highly recommend both Angela and Karen. They both have been amazingly helpful throughout the visa application process of my wife. They do truly care for their clients. They look at the case in reasonable time periods and return with any missing information rapidly. Consulting them during this exciting yet stressful process was the best decision that I made. Today my wife got granted the visa just after 5 weeks of her biometric scans.
    Mr Yazici
  • They are so honest and professional . Clear answers and guidance to all my questions 👍👍. Thanks a lot .
    Mr Khalil
  • Just received a decision from the Home office that I would’ve NEVER thought was possible. So happy and over the moon! I would definitely recommend your services to friends & family if required in the future. Huge thanks to Sallie and the team, best immigration solicitor in the business!!
    Mr Bamba
  • Angela Cole is a wonderful, hardworking, honest, kind and reliable Solicitor. Her work is very high standard, very professional and her team is friendly. Me and my husband have no hesitation in recommending Angela Cole's excellent services.
    Ms Small
  • "Simply a team of experienced people who gave us excellent and honest advice. Having now taken an appeal through to a successful conclusion for the (very reasonable) price promised, I have no hesitation in recommending this firm."
    Jon Chrimes - Google Review
  • "The team went an extra mile and fought my case much more and much better than I would have expected. In the end, my case was successful and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done. If I ever need legal help in the future I will definitely use their services again and recommend them for their reasonable prices, supportive advice and first rate legal services."
    ANONYMOUS - Google Review
  • "Excellent people, excellent service. They made the process of bringing my husband to the UK painless. Couldn’t have done it without them, highly recommend!"
    Lindy Pine - Google Review
  • "I am ecstatic, thanks to you all. My life is complete now and anything else is a bonus. Even if it seemed impossible I knew we were going to win this and that is why I never gave up. Thank you for your work, support and encouragement."
    MRS. Last
  • 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.
    MRS. H
  • Thanks to Sallie, my wife is finally in the UK after a horrible year and long delays with Home Office. Highly recommended Immigration Legal Services! 
    MR. B
  • Angela Cole and everyone at Immigration Legal Services will work to produce the best outcome for you and, from our experience, they only concern themselves with your goal and not your wallet. Immigration Legal Services' charge was a very good price for all the help and security they provided
    MR. C
  • Despite the high professionalism practiced within the firm, there is always a strong sense of compassion , and care, from both Angela, and lovely Karen, which has really helped to set our minds at ease. Absolutely recommended & Eternally grateful
    Ms. f
  • 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.
  • Excellent service, Sallie is very professional and lovely. Thanks to you what we thought it will be a long and exhausting experience, was so smooth and fast we couldn't believe it. Thank you very much.
    Mrs T
  • We engaged this firm based on a recommendation made by a friend who had used their services before. We required their assistance for my wife's first renewal of her spousal visa. The process was quite painless, they got in touch to collect documents and go over details but most communication was done by email. We received the renewal without any issues.
  • Sallie was the best solicitor I've met for immigration matters. She was straight to the job, focused on the matter and had an excellent transparent work process, a reasonable fee and no hidden charges. She is very helpful, confident and had the best communication. We got our parents' visa in one go! Thank you very much for the excellent job.

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