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Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you hold a UK visa and have lived here for a certain amount of time and meet the eligibility criteria, you may be able to apply for settlement in the UK, or ‘permanent residence’. This is known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.  This will allow you to live in the UK for as long as you wish and to apply for British citizenship, provided you meet the relevant requirements.

Thorntons immigration solicitors can advise you on your eligibility and options, and support you through the whole application process and any appeals.

Frequently asked questions

Here we look at some of the frequently asked questions about Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, also known as ‘settlement’, it means you are settled in the UK and can stay without any time restrictions. It also means you are free from immigration control and able to now access public funds, provided you are eligible for them. However, you will automatically lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain if you stay outside UK for a period longer than two years.  In this scenario, you will have to apply to the entry clearance officer explaining your circumstances, strong ties to the UK and your intention to make the UK your permanent home; however this will be subject to the Immigration official’s discretion.

At Thorntons, we can talk you through the different stages of settlement and support you wherever you are in the process of gaining UK permanent residence.

There are a number of situations where you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, including:

  • You have been legally in the UK for 10 years – this is known as ‘long residence’
  • You have had an eligible work visa, such as a Tier 2 (General) Work Visa, for at least five years
  • You have held lawful leave as a  family member or partner of a UK-settled individual for at least 5 years


Each category has specific requirements you will need to meet before you can be considered for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

We can advise you if you are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and on the necessary requirements, as well as guide you through the application process.

No. You can usually apply for British citizenship a year after you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided the other eligible requirements are met. As well as making you free of immigration restrictions, being a British citizen allows certain rights, such as being able to apply for a British passport. Find out more on our British Citizenship page.

There are different requirements to be met depending on the application route applied for, for instance the requirements for indefinite leave to remain in the UK on the basis of the Tier 2 (General) visa category is different to the 10 year ‘Long Residence’ requirements. We recommend you take advice from an immigration solicitor on the best route for your circumstances.

Applications have to be made online to the Home Office.  As part of the application, you will need to provide biometric information (your fingerprints, digital photo of your face and your signature). This can be taken at various authorised places either in the UK or abroad, and you will be told where to go once you have submitted your application.  

We can advise you on the requirements you need to meet for your application, what the process entails and help you through the application.

The process should take approximately 4 to 12 weeks. The cost, as of April  2020, is £2,398. Find up-to-date fees on the Home Office website.

If you are applying in the UK and you are eligible, the Home Office also offers a:

  • Priority service, where the decision is given within five working days of your biometric appointment for an additional fee of £500 Super priority service, where the decision will be made by the end of the next working day after  your biometric appointment for an additional fee of £800.

A Limited Leave to Remain is a temporary visa that allows you to stay in the UK for a set time period. You have to leave the country at the end of the specified time, or apply to the Home Office to extend the visa, switch your leave to a different applicable visa or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain before it expires.

Our immigration lawyers can discuss your options with you if you have a Limited Leave to Remain visa, and routes to applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is refused, your appeal rights depend on whether you still have valid leave to remain on your existing visa.

  • If you still have valid leave to remain at the point of your refusal, you will most likely not have a right of appeal; however you may be entitled to challenge the decision by way of judicial review.
  • If your leave has expired at the date of the refusal, you may have the right to appeal.


If you are in this situation, we recommend you take legal advice on the best way to proceed. At Thorntons, we have years of experience in conducting all types of immigration and visa appeals at all levels of the court and tribunal system, and can strongly represent your interests throughout.

How can Thorntons help?

Our Immigration Law team have extensive experience in just about every type of immigration application, including Indefinite Leave to Remain. With in-depth knowledge of the visa application processes and demands, we can help you achieve the best outcome for you. 

With our extensive local office network across Scotland, our expert friendly and approachable team is on hand to help.  We also offer services to clients around the world, with easy technology communication and using interpreters when need be.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about our immigration services, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.

How can Thorntons help?

Our Immigration Law team have extensive experience in just about every type of immigration application, including Indefinite Leave to Remain. With in-depth knowledge of the visa application processes and demands, we can help you achieve the best outcome for you. 

With our extensive local office network across Scotland, our expert friendly and approachable team is on hand to help.  We also offer services to clients around the world, with easy technology communication and using interpreters when need be.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about our immigration services, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.

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