Settlement in the UK under various routes
The UK offers several routes to settlement for partners and family members of British citizens and settled persons in the UK, under the Spouse or Civil Partner, Unmarried Partner, Adult Dependent Relative and Child immigration routes.
Settlement Visa Requirement
If applying for indefinite leave to remain as a Spouse, Civil Partner or Unmarried Partner, you will need to have completed 5 years (60 months) in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or settled person. You will also need to satisfy the strict financial requirement under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules.
Unless an exemption applies, you will also need to meet the higher English Language requirement that applies to settlement applications and have passed the Life in the UK test.
Each of the family related settlement categories also have their own additional eligibility criteria, which can be discussed during a consultation.
Settlement or Indefinite leave to remain
If you qualify for settlement, or indefinite leave to remain, you will be able to stay in the UK without any time restrictions.
Your settled status will lapse if you are absent from the UK for more than 2 years or 5 years if you were granted Indefinite leave to remain or enter under EU Settlement Scheme. If your ILR has lapsed, you may wish to consider applying for a Returning Resident visa in order to return to the UK.
The UK also offers several routes to settlement by working in the UK. Work related settlement routes include the Skilled Worker visa, the Innovator visa, Investor Visa category and the UK Ancestry visa.
Regardless of under which category the applicant applies, to qualify for indefinite leave to remain, they will need to provide evidence that:
• You have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK in a permitted category;
• You have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any rolling 12 calendar month periods preceding the date of application;
• You have sufficient knowledge of the English language (unless an exemption applies);
• You have taken and passed the Life in the UK test (unless an exemption applies).
Each of the work-related settlement categories also have their own additional eligibility criteria, which can be discussed during a consultation.
If you are a non-UK national and have lived in the United Kingdom continuously and lawfully for 10 years, you may qualify for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK on the basis of long residence.
Settlement Requirements on the basis of Long Residence.
To qualify for indefinite leave to remain based on long residence, the applicant will need to meet the following requirements:
• You have spent a period of at least 10 years residing in the United Kingdom continuously and lawfully; and
• Your 10-year period of lawful residence is unbroken; and
• There are no public interest reasons why it would be undesirable to grant you indefinite leave to remain; and
• There are no general grounds for refusing your application (such as a relevant criminal conviction); and
• You have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and passed life in the United Kingdom test; and
• You have not breached any immigration laws during your stay in the UK.
You may have broken your continuous long residence in the UK, if at any time during the period relied upon:
• You were absent from the UK for more than 18 months in total; or
• You were removed or deported from the UK; or
• You left the UK without having leave to enter or remain (overstay);
• You evidenced a clear intention not to return to the UK on leaving; or
• You left the UK with no reasonable expectation of being able to return lawfully; or
• You were sentenced to a period of imprisonment (not suspended) or directed to be detained; or
• You were absent from the UK for more than 6 months or 180 days at any one time; or
• You were absent from the UK for less than 6 months but had no leave either upon departure or return (or both).
Assessment on long residence basis.
When assessing whether there are any public interest reasons why it would be undesirable to grant the applicant indefinite leave to remain, the Home Office will consider the following factors:
• Your age;
• The strength of your connections in the UK;
• Your personal history (e.g. character, conduct, associations, and employment record);
• Your domestic circumstances;
• Any compassionate circumstances; and
• Any representations submitted on your behalf.
The Home Office has a discretion to grant long residence applications where the applicant has absences more than 540 days in total or a single absence of more than six months. You would need to demonstrate that the absence(s) was/were for an exceptional or compelling reason for example due to COVID 19 etc.
If you have not completed the Life in the UK test or met the English Language requirement, you may be able to extend your stay in in the UK, rather than apply for indefinite leave to remain.
The qualifying 10-year period does not need to have been completed recently. You can rely on a historic continuous period of 10 years lawful residence.
If you have dependants, they may need to apply to switch into a different category of the Immigration Rules, such as the Spouse or Civil Partner or Child categories.
The exact requirements you will need to satisfy may vary depending on your personal circumstances. Please feel free to contact our immigration team at email@example.com to discuss further.
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