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Switching From a Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain

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Some people who arrive in the UK are very focussed on achieving settlement in the UK as soon as possible, with British citizenship being their ultimate goal. For others, life in the UK on a series of visas is fine, especially if they are able to extend their visa or switch to a new visa without too much hassle. However, for most there comes a time when you need to switch from a visa to indefinite leave to remain so in this article our immigration solicitors take a look at the transition from visa holder to indefinite leave to remain and answer your frequently asked questions.

UK Online and London Based Indefinite Leave to Remain Solicitors and Immigration Lawyers

For advice on your indefinite leave to remain application or on any aspect of immigration law call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Do I need to apply for indefinite leave to remain?

Some visas can't be extended indefinitely so if you want to stay in the UK you need to switch visa or switch to indefinite leave to remain. Even though you may not need to apply for indefinite leave to remain most people conclude that life in the UK is easier with indefinite leave to remain status rather than time limited entry clearance. That is the case whether you are in the UK on a skilled worker visa, family visa or business visa.

Whilst you may not need to apply for indefinite leave to remain it is crucial that you either apply to renew your existing visa, apply to switch visa category or apply for indefinite leave to remain before your current visa expires. If you don’t then the Home Office may class you as an ‘overstayer’ and that is likely to result in future immigration applications being refused.

Can I apply for British citizenship without first applying for indefinite leave to remain?

If you are from a non-EEA country you need indefinite leave to remain before you can apply for British citizenship. If you are from the EU then you need settled status before you can apply for British citizenship. Therefore, indefinite leave to remain is a stepping stone to a British citizenship application. Indefinite leave to remain solicitors stress that if you want to stay in the UK, without the cost and hassle of applying to extend your visa, an indefinite leave to remain application allows you to do so and you don’t have to go on to apply for British citizenship as indefinite leave to remain isn’t time limited.

Can my family apply for indefinite leave to remain?

If you are in the UK on a skilled worker visa or Tier 2 (General) visa you may think there is little point in applying for indefinite leave to remain if your family will remain on time limited visas. However, the immigration rules say that if a family member is in the UK on a dependant visa, they too can apply for indefinite leave to remain provided that they meet the eligibility criteria.

Will I have to change employment if I apply for indefinite leave to remain?

If you are in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa or skilled worker visa you will have a sponsoring employer. Once you move from a work visa to indefinite leave to remain you will no longer require a sponsoring employer so, if you chose to do so, you can change employment and you won't be restricted to jobs where the prospective employer holds a Home Office issued sponsor licence.

Your employer can't terminate your employment without good reason so you won't lose your employment by applying for indefinite leave to remain. If anything, your employer should encourage you to apply for indefinite leave to remain as it costs an employer less to employ a worker with settled status or indefinite leave to remain than it does to sponsor an employee and pay the immigration skills charge.

 How long do you need to live in the UK for before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain?

In the majority of cases, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain once you have been in the UK for five years. To meet the residence requirement your residence must be lawful and continuous. If you don’t meet the residence requirement you may be able to use the ten-year route to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

It is best to get legal advice from indefinite leave to remain solicitors as soon as you can as they will talk you through the impact of spending time outside the UK on your indefinite leave to remain application. If you don’t meet the residence requirement you may need to delay your indefinite leave to remain application until you do so or you may be able to get Home Office officials to exercise discretion under the immigration rules. By getting early specialist legal advice most people are able to fit their work and holiday time around the residence requirement rules.

Will I lose my citizenship if I apply for indefinite leave to remain?

One fear that does put people off from applying for indefinite leave to remain is the worry that they will lose their nationality of birth by securing indefinite leave to remain. You will not do so. All indefinite leave to remain gives you is the non-time limited right to live and work in the UK. It does not change your nationality.

If you apply for British citizenship, you will lose your nationality of origin unless you apply for dual nationality provided that your country of origin allows citizens to hold dual nationality.

Do you have a question about indefinite leave to remain? If so, give our expert indefinite leave to remain solicitors a call on 0203 959 9123.

UK Online and London Based Indefinite Leave to Remain Solicitors and Immigration Lawyers

For help with your indefinite leave to remain application or advice on any aspect of immigration law call the immigration team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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