When you apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, it is imperative that you can demonstrate your status and eligibility through factors such as the length of time you have lived and worked in the UK lawfully and continuously.
Holding a valid biometric residence permit (BRP) is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you hold indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and that you have right to work, live and study in this country free from immigration control.
What is indefinite leave to remain (ILR)?
Holding the status of indefinite leave to remain indicates that you have been granted the right to live and work in the UK for an indefinite period of time. It is not a permanent status, however, and may lapse if you do not adhere to the relevant conditions, such as maintaining continuous residence.
The eligibility requirements for obtaining indefinite leave to remain status depend on the category of visa you hold and several other considerations.
Overall requirements for being granted indefinite leave to remain are that you:
- pass the Life in the UK Test
- meet the required English language standard
- do not have a criminal record
- have not provided fraudulent information to the Home Office
- have not violated immigration laws
- have maintained continuous residence (generally no more than 180 days abroad in any period of 12 months)
There are several paths to obtaining indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Employment and business related visas
There are a number of visas that fall into this category, with varying eligibility requirements for indefinite leave to remain:
- Tier 1 (General) visa – as of April 2018, holders of Tier 1 (General) visas can no longer apply for indefinite leave to remain status.
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa – eligibility rests on living and working in the UK for 3 years where you were endorsed as a recognised leader, or 5 years where you were endorsed as an emerging leader, that you retain endorsement by the original endorsing organisation.
- Tier 1 (Investor) or earlier investor visa – have lived in the UK for 2, 3 or 5 years and have a suitable level of assets and investments.
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa – have lived in the UK for 5 years, or 3 years where you have created sufficient jobs or income.
- Tier 2 (General) visa – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, your sponsoring employer can demonstrate that they require you to continue your employment with them, your salary amounts to £35,500 or more (with certain exceptions, such as where you are a shortage worker), and you are paid a corresponding salary to that listed in the Codes of Practice.
- Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, you are still required by your employer to continue in your position, and you are paid a corresponding salary to that listed in the Codes of Practice.
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, you are still required to fulfil the position with your sponsoring employee, you receive a salary of £35,500 or more (unless exempt from the minimum earnings threshold), and you are paid a corresponding salary to that listed in the Codes of Practice.
- Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, your sponsoring employer requires you to continue your employment with them, and you are paid a corresponding salary to that listed in the Codes of Practice. You must have held at least one, or a combination of, a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa, intra-company transfer work permit or representative of an overseas business visa during the 5 years in the UK.
- Investor, Innovator, Businessperson or Self Employed Lawyer visa – have lived and worked in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.
- Work permit – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years.
- Sole Representative of an Overseas Business/ Representative of an Overseas Newspaper, News Agency or Broadcaster/ Representative of an Overseas Business visa – have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years, where you can demonstrate that your employer requires you to continue your employment with them, and where you can demonstrate that you have set up an actively trading, UK registered branch of the overseas business.
- Domestic Worker visa – your visa application was made before 6 April 2012, you have lived and worked in the UK for 5 years as a full-time domestic worker, and you can provide a letter from your employer to explain any time spent outside the UK for work or holiday.
Ten years continuous lawful residence
Where you have lawfully and continuously lived in the UK for 10 years, you may be eligible for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, as long as you meet the overall eligibility requirements mentioned previously.
The period of ten years begins when you arrive in the UK with a valid visa or when you are otherwise given permission to reside in the UK.
This rule does not apply to your dependants.
Partner or child of person with indefinite leave to remain
Where you are the partner, parent or child of a person with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
This will depend on whether your partner, parent or child obtained their indefinite leave to remain through a work visa or in some other way, and your current relationship with that person.
Your eligibility for indefinite leave to remain will rely on factors such as:
- providing documented evidence of your relationship
- the length of your relationship as a partner (generally, there is a minimum of 2 years)
- your and your partner’s intention to continue the relationship
- current residence in the UK when you make your application
- holding a visa suitable for a dependant
- the intention of you and your partner to live together and provide your own accommodation
- that you and your partner have sufficient income to support yourself and any dependants so that you will not require access to public funds
How do you prove your ILR status?
You can prove that you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK by presenting your passport or your biometric residence permit.
It is therefore always advised to keep both of these items valid and up to date.
What is a biometric residence permit?
The BRP is similar in size and form to an identity card or a photo driving licence and displays the following information:
- your name
- date and place of birth
- biometric information (fingerprints and passport-style photo)
- immigration status
- conditions of your stay in the UK
- whether you may apply for public funds, such as benefits and healthcare
How do you apply for your biometric residence permit?
When you apply for a visa to visit the UK for longer than 6 months, you will automatically receive a biometric residence permit (BRP).
Processing times vary, depending on the US embassy or consulate handling your application and the time of year but are generally between one and four months from approval.
If you apply for your visa from within the UK, your BRP will be sent to you by courier service.
Where you apply for your visa from abroad, you will need to collect your BRP once you arrive in the UK.
When your visa is granted, a ‘vignette’ sticker will be placed in your passport. This vignette is valid for 30 days and allows you to enter the UK. You must arrange to collect your BRP before this sticker expires or within 10 days of your arrival in the UK.
Your decision letter will state how to receive your BRP, and this will depend on arrangements made as part of your visa application.
The first option is to collect your BRP from a branch of the Post Office. If this is the case, your delivery letter will state which branch you should attend and when.
You do not need to make an appointment to collect your BRP, but you must present your passport with the 30 day vignette and your decision letter when you attend. If you don’t have these documents with you, you will not be allowed to collect your BRP.
Where the BRP is for an individual who is under 18 years of age, they may not collect the BRP unless accompanied by a nominated adult who can provide proof of their identity. This is a previously arranged responsible adult such as a parent or legal guardian. Nomination requires prior approval by the Home Office.
In certain situations, a school may set up a special arrangement with the Home Office to receive student BRPs in the post. Alternatively, they may arrange for a member of their staff to collect the BRPs from the Post Office.
Where you can’t collect the BRP from the Post Office yourself due to illness or disability, and you are over 18 years old, you may nominate another individual to collect the BRP on your behalf. This individual must have either a passport, EU identity card or a BRP. This nomination must, however, be approved by the Home Office.
The alternative to collecting your BRP from the Post Office is for it to be sent to your sponsor, such as an employer. If you choose this option, then you must indicate this in your visa application.
If you do not collect your BRP, you may face a fine of up to £1,000.
Once you receive it, check that all the details on your permit are correct. Should any of the information be wrong, report this to the Home Office immediately.
Benefits of having a BRP
Firstly, your BRP can be used to confirm your identity.
You can also use it to confirm your right to work, live and study in the UK>
When applying for employment, your BRP will demonstrate to an employer that you have the right to work in the UK.
Finally, where you are eligible to access public funds, you may confirm this by showing your BRP.
Challenges with BRPs
Firstly, it is a legal requirement that your BRP should show accurate information so you must ensure that it is kept up to date, reporting any changes such as your address to the Home Office.
If your BRP is lost, stolen or damaged, you must again report this to the Home Office and apply for a replacement. If you do not apply for a replacement within 3 months, you may well face a fine of up to £1,000.
Do you have a question about a BRP and Indefinite Leave to Remain? DavidsonMorris can help!
If you have any questions about any aspect of ILR – eligibility, making an application, reapplying following a refusal – DavidsonMorris can help.
We are specialists in UK immigration, guiding individuals through the application process and helping applicants attain UK settlement. For advice or queries about UK citizenship, contact us.