Tier 2 (General) visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain

When you enter the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa it can seem as if it will be years until you can apply to settle in the UK. That may be true but it is best to know how to go about applying for Tier 2 Indefinite Leave to Remain  in the UK.

Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors

If you need advice about making a Tier 2 application for Indefinite Leave to Remain application call London based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 and speak to one of our experienced Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors or complete our online enquiry form.

Can I settle in the UK on a work visa?

The good news is that if you secure entry clearance into the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa then the visa can lead to settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

It is sensible to know the basics about applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain after moving to the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa. That way you can try and ensure you meet the eligibility criteria to make your ILR application once you have lived in the UK for five years and that you stand the best chance of successfully going from Tier 2 visa to ILR.

Tier 2 (General) visa to ILR

Some people question what the differences are between living and working in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa and settling in the UK by successfully applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The main differences are:

Tier 2 (General) visa

  • A Tier 2 (General) visa can be granted for a maximum period of just over five years  

  • On a Tier 2 (General) visa you can work in a job on the Shortage Occupation List or with a company that has a Sponsor Licence. You will need to secure  sponsorship from an employer who provides you with a Certificate of Sponsorship

  • On a Tier 2 (General) visa if you want to change your employment you will need to make a new application for a work visa

  • If you are in the UK on a work visa and you are sponsored by your employer under a Certificate of Sponsorship then they have to report your absences or changes of address to the Home Office

  • If you are in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa you cannot apply for British citizenship unless you are married to a British citizen or your spouse has Settled Status

Indefinite Leave to Remain 

Eligibility to apply from Tier 2 (General) visa to ILR

Most Tier 2 work visa holders can readily see the advantages of securing Indefinite Leave to Remain as soon as they are eligible to apply for UK settlement.

To be eligible to apply for ILR after entering the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa you need to:

  • Have been in the UK lawfully for at least five years. ‘Lawfully’ means that you must have been in the UK on a valid visa; and

  • Earn at least £35,800 gross a year or more; and

  • Still be in employment with an employer who has a Sponsor Licence and is therefore able to employ non-EEA nationals; and

  • Have no unspent convictions; and

  • Have been living and working in the UK; and

  • Pass the Life in the UK test; and

  • Meet the English language requirement or pass the English language test.

The continuous residence rule and Tier 2 ILR

To be eligible to apply from Tier 2 (General) visa to ILR, you must meet the continuous residence and absence from the UK rules. The rules depend on when your work visa was granted and say:

  • If your Tier 2 (General) visa was granted before the 11th January 2018, you cannot have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days during the five consecutive twelve month periods; or

  • If your work visa was granted after the 11th January 2018, the 180 day absence rule applies on a rolling basis to any twelve month period during your qualifying period of leave. That means you can't have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days during any consecutive twelve month period within the five year period;

  • There are some scenarios when Home Office discretion can be exercised on the continuous residence rule.

How to apply to switch from Tier 2 to Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you want to go from a Tier 2 (General) visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain then you will need to submit form SET (O) – Application for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom under the Tier 2 Category together with your supporting documents.

Tier 2 ILR supporting documents

If you do not get your supporting Tier 2 ILR documentation right then your ILR application will be refused. As well as making sure the documents are correct you also need to ensure that:

  • Original paperwork is sent rather than copies;

  • The documents are in English or there is an official certified translation into English (or Welsh)

The documentation should include:

  • Evidence of your identity namely current passport or travel document and your biometric residence permit and two passport sized photographs; and

  • Evidence of continuous residence, such as a council tax statement or gas bill or  mortgage statement; and

  • English language test certificate and Life in the UK pass; and

  • Evidence that you meet the employment and financial requirement such as your original pay slips and bank statements for the last three to six months to evidence salary together with your contract of employment and a letter from your employer confirming that you are still employed in the sponsored work role and are paid at the relevant salary.

Applying for British citizenship after Tier 2 ILR

Once you have got your Tier 2 ILR status you have to wait for twelve months before you can apply for British citizenship. You can apply straight away if you are married to a British citizen or to a UK settled person.

What happens if I am on a work visa and don’t apply for ILR?

The maximum time you can stay in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) visa is six years provided your Tier 2 visa (and extension application) was granted after the 6 April 2011.

If you don’t want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain then you either need to:

  • Leave the UK before the expiry of your Tier 2 (General) visa – failure to do so will mean that you become an overstayer in the UK and that may affect any future Immigration applications that you make to either remain in the UK or re-enter the UK ; or

  • Apply to switch visa to an alternate visa, such as an Investor Visa. If you switch visa to a new category of visa then that visa will also be time limited and you will remain subject to Immigration control. However, the Immigration control may feel less rigorous than under a sponsored work visa. 

Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors

For help with an application for Tier 2 Indefinite Leave to Remain call our specialist Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

OTS Solicitors are experts in Immigration law and have substantial experience in applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain and Tier 2 (General) visas. London based OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession recommended Immigration lawyers and have Law Society accredited solicitor status as trusted specialists in Immigration law.

For advice on any aspect of Tier 2 Indefinite Leave to Remain and securing UK settlement call us on 0203 959 9123 to speak to one of our experienced London Indefinite Leave to Remain solicitors who will be happy to help.

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