Am I eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain?

 
By Hans Sok Appadu, solicitor 
 
The goal of many immigration clients is to secure British Citizenship. Many have not heard of Indefinite Leave to Remain. However, with advice from Top London immigration solicitors, they realise how important it is to secure Indefinite Leave to Remain.
 

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

 

Indefinite Leave to Remain gives an applicant the right to live and work in the UK. If granted Indefinite Leave to Remain the migrant is free from any immigration restrictions. 
 
If Indefinite Leave to Remain is obtained the applicant can then start the process of becoming a naturalised British citizen.
 

How do you obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain

 
Some immigration clients think that they will secure Indefinite Leave to Remain by remaining in the UK. A formal application does however have to be made to the Home Office.
 
The Indefinite Leave to Remain application has to be supported by evidence establishing the applicant’s eligibility to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help?

 
OTS Solicitors are specialist in immigration law matters and are recommended for immigration law in the Legal 500.
For advice on applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
 

Are you eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain

 
A migrant is eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if:
 

• They are a non-EEA national;

• They have leave to remain in the UK for the relevant qualifying period;

• They have an immigration visa in an immigration category that can lead to settlement.

 

Lawful residence in the UK 

 
An applicant must have been lawfully resident in the UK throughout the qualifying period. This means that the applicant must not have spent any of their time in the UK without valid leave to enter or to remain.
 
The applicant must also not have breached any visa or leave conditions.
 

What is the “continuous period” for the purposes of an Indefinite Leave to Remain application? 

 
The best London immigration solicitors say the continuous period criteria often creates the most difficulties for applicants applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
 
The “continuous period” requirement is the minimum amount of time an applicant must spend:
 

• In Employment; or

• Active in the UK economy

 

prior to becoming eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
 
For most visa categories, such as Tier 2 (General), spouse and civil partnership visas, the continuous period is a period of 5 years. Other permitted visa categories may require different continuous periods.
 
The continuous residence requirement is affected by absences from the UK. To preserve an applicant’s continuous period, they must not have been absent from the UK for a total of more than 180 days in any 12 month period during the qualifying period. 
 
The continuous period requirements are stringent so it is helpful to get advice from a top London immigration solicitor on the Indefinite Leave to Remain application.
 
If an applicant exceeds the number of absences allowed then their continuous residence period is broken. This can result in disqualification from being eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain settlement.
 
There are some allowances if an applicant exceeds the number ofdays spent outside the UK. However, the rules are complex and advice from a top London immigration solicitor should be sought.
 

What are the immigration categories that can lead to UK settlement? 

 
In order to be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain a migrant must have entered the UK on a visa that can lead to settlement and must have been in the UK for the correct period.
 
The correct period depends on the type of visa the migrant entered the UK.
 

Evidence for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application 

 
When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain evidence has to be supplied, namely: 
 

• A continuous lawful residence in the UK for the required qualifying period (the qualifying period varies depending on immigration  status); and 

• Absences from the UK not exceeding 180 days in any 12 months of the qualifying period; and 

• Completion of a Life in the UK test; and 

• Evidence of an ability to speak English. This has to be to a required standard; and 

• Any other evidence, for example in relation to immigration status.

 

What documents need to be supplied for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application? 

 

Normally an applicant will need to provide the following paperwork:
 

• Signed application form; and 

• 2 passports sized photos; and 

• Application fee; and 

• Valid passport and any expired passports; and 

• Biometric resident permit if in possession of permit ; and 

• Any police registration certificate where an applicant has been required to register with the police after arriving in the UK; and 

• Evidence of finances, for example, salary slips; and 

• Pass certificate for the life in the UK test; and  

• Evidence of relevant English language qualifications; and 

• Evidence in support of any absences from the UK, for example, a letter from  employer; and 

• Any other supporting evidence relevant to the specific visa category.

 

Documents provided in support of an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain must be originals.
 
The above list is not exhaustive. If an application is complex, additional paperwork may be required.
 

How much is the government fee to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain 

 
The fee for a single applicant is currently is £2,389. There is an additional fee for each dependant.
 
If an applicant would like the Indefinite Leave to Remain application processed quickly the fee for using the premium service is £2,999.
In addition to the Indefinite Leave to Remain fee, there are other costs such as the fees for the “Life in the UK” test. This test currently costs £50.
 
As the Indefinite Leave to Remain application fee is so substantial ,and fees are not refunded if the application is refused, the best London immigration solicitors advise applicants to get specialist legal advice on their application.
   

Do you need to have an interview with UK Visas and immigration to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain

 
If an application is complicated then UK Visas and immigration can ask an applicant to attend an interview to check facts or to request further information.
 
Top London immigration solicitors advise that an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is based on individual circumstances. Even if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria and other rules, the application may not be approved. 
 
That is why it is so important to think about the timing and quality of the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain
 

When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK?

 

The best London immigration solicitors advise that the timing of an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is critical.
 

• The applicant must apply prior to the expiry of any current visa and while they are in the UK; and 

• The applicant should not apply more than 28 days before the end of their current leave or visa.

 
If an applicant entered the UK, within 3 months of their visa being issued, they might be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain 28 days prior the issue date on the visa. 
 
If an applicant is in doubt about the earliest date the can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain the best option is to take advice from a London immigration solicitor. 
 

What happens if an Indefinite Leave to Remain application is made early?

 
If an applicant applies for Indefinite Leave to Remain too early then the application could be refused. The application fee will not be refunded. The applicant would have to resubmit the application and pay another application fee. As the fee is substantial, it pays to take advice from a London immigration solicitor on the timing of the application.
 

What happens if an Indefinite Leave to Remain application is late?

 
Applications for indefinite leave could be refused if an applicant has overstayed on their visa. Therefore, if a migrant does not think they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain it is vital that they take legal advice from a top London immigration solicitor and consider applying to extend their visa.
 
It is equally important, if the applicant has only overstayed for a short period that urgent immigration advice is taken. UK Visas and immigration may disregard a short period of overstaying if the application is made within 14 days of the visa expiring. There has to be a good reason beyond the applicant’s control over why the application could not be made in time.
 

How long does it take to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain

 
It can take up to several weeks to months to be told if the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is successful. The timing depends on the UK Visas and immigration caseloads. Premium service centres and applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain 
Top London immigration solicitors recommend the use of a premium service centre if an applicant cannot or does not want to wait for a decision on their application for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

 

Assessing the merits of an Indefinite Leave to Remain application 

 
Given the amount of the Indefinite Leave to Remain application fee and the consequences of a refusal of an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, it is vital that an applicant carefully considers the timing and content of their application.
 
The best London immigration solicitors sometimes advise that if an Indefinite Leave to Remain application is not likely to be successful then it may be preferable to apply to extend a visa instead. 
 
In other situations, the advice from Top London immigration solicitors is to proceed with an Indefinite Leave to Remain application but to ask UK Visas and immigration to exercise discretion.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help?

 
OTS Solicitors are specialist in immigration law matters. The firm is recommended for immigration law in the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in immigration law.
 
For more information on indefinite leave to remain or for help with an indefinite leave to remain application or any aspect of personal or business immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

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