To make an application for UK indefinite leave to remain, you will need to use the correct Home Office form. The SET (O) form is for individuals eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) who are currently in the UK under one of a number of specified immigration routes.
With ILR, an individual gains the right to live, work and study in the UK free from immigration restrictions for an unlimited period of time. Importantly, ILR is a mandatory prerequisite to naturalising as a British citizen.
ILR is not automatically granted. Strict eligibility criteria must be met and evidenced as part of the Home Office application, which includes completing the relevant form and submitting supporting documentation.
The SET O form is long. It requires you to answer questions about yourself, your immigration status as well as related information about your eligibility. Any errors in your application can cause issues such as a delayed or refused application. In this guide, we explain what the SET O form is and how best to prepare your ILR application.
Applying for ILR using SET O
SET O is to be used by ILR applicants who currently have leave in the UK as follows:
- Work permit holders
- Dependant of work permit holders
- PBS dependants
- Employment not requiring a work permits
- Self-employed lawyers
- Writers, composers or artists
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants- accelerated route
- Tier 1 (Investor) migrants
- Tier 1 (Investor) migrants – accelerated route
- Tier 2 migrants
- UK ancestry holders
- Bereaved partners
- Other purposes not covered by other application forms
Tier 2 & Skilled Worker visa holders
A person that has been living and working in the UK for a minimum of 5 years under a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa.
PBS dependants should also use SET O. Dependent children under the age of 18 may apply using the same Set O form as their parent. The dependent child/children that are applying on the form will also need to be present in the UK at the time of application in order to qualify.
Children over the age of 18 must apply individually and pay a separate fee with their application.
Tier 1 visa holders
Entrepreneurs and ‘accelerated’ entrepreneurs under the Tier 1 route
An entrepreneur being a person who has created a valid business and jobs for UK citizens. You may be eligible for accelerated entrepreneur and may apply after 3 years if you have either a high turnover of £5 million or more or have created 10 or more full-time jobs for the settled population
Investors and ‘accelerated’ investors under the Tier 1 route
An investor being an individual who has invested a substantial amount in a UK based business. This may be accelerated to apply after 3 years if the investment is considered large enough.
Employment not requiring a work permit
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss National legally working in the UK without a visa, and do not require a work permit to work in the UK, you may use the set O form to apply for ILR.
A person that has at least one grandparent that was born in the UK and in is in the UK under the ancestry route.
Your partner must either have been a British Citizen or had indefinite leave to remain and you intend to remain in the UK after their passing.
In addition to the above, individuals under the following routes should also use SET O:
- Work permit holder
- Dependant of work permit holder
- Self-employed lawyer
- Writer, composer or artist
- Other purposes not covered by other application forms
ILR eligibility requirements
When making your application, your immigration status must be valid and you will need to have completed the relevant qualifying period as required under your immigration status.
This is five years for most routes, such as Tiers 1 and 2, employment not requiring a work permit, as an overseas business representative, through UK ancestry and retired person with independent means. 3 years in the Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Exceptional Talent accelerated route, or 2-3 years in the Tier 1 investor accelerated route if the level of investment is acceptable.
For bereaved partners, there is no qualifying period to adhere to.
Your visa qualifying period is valid from the moment you enter the UK.
You should apply no more than 28 days before completing your qualifying period.
To qualify for indefinite leave to remain, if aged between 18 and 64, you will need to meet both parts of the knowledge requirements: you will be required to pass the Life in the UK test and either have a recognised English speaking and listening qualification, a degree that was taught or researched in English or be a national of an English speaking country.
Making an ILR Application using Form Set (O)
ILR applications are time sensitive. You must apply before your current leave expires and while you are still in the UK. You should not apply more than 28 days before the end of your current leave or your application may be rejected. In this instance, the fee is non-refundable. You would need to make a new application and pay the fee again at the correct time.
If there are delays due to filing at the wrong time, there is a risk of running out of time to apply and having to leave the UK. Any delays caused by filing at the wrong time will also lead to you losing the right to appeal.
There may be extenuating circumstances that will be considered for an appeal, or you may be able to extend your current leave, but this will be subject to circumstances and again is time sensitive.
Applications are made online.
Tier 1 entrepreneur and investor applicants are not eligible to apply using the premium service.
Section 1 is for all your personal details, name, date of birth, address, passport number , etc.Along with this you will need to provide your current and valid passport or travel documents and 2 colour passport sized photographs of each applicant with names clearly written on the back, amongst other evidence.
Section 2 is for any dependents that you are including on the application. Make sure you fill out all the details fully. You will need original copies of birth/adoption certificates.
You will then need to check the box that applies to your specific reason for application, such as work permit holder or long residence in the UK. It is important that you check the correct box for you and complete all sections that relate to your category. If you are unsure which category you are applying under, your legal advisor will be able to assist you. Any existing visas will need to be sent with the form and letters from employers etc.
In section 4 you will be asked about your knowledge and life in the UK. For this section your qualifications, such as your pass certificate for the life in the UK test and any relevant English Language qualifications will be required as supporting evidence.
The next part of the application will ask you about your home and finances, whether you own or rent, where you get your income from, if you are in receipt of any benefitsetc.Relevant supporting documents would include recent personal bank statements, mortgage payments, wage slips, HMRC documents, letters from family members who are supporting you financially and benefit statements.
Section 6 will ask you about your absences from the UK. In this section you also need to state the date you first entered the UK for the qualifying period that you are claiming for. You must provide all details of any absences, no matter how short. Dates and reasons for absence are required. Reasons may include work related reasons, which you will be required to show evidence, such as a letter from your employer, travel documents for annual leave and letters for compassionate reasons such as a sick/dying relative.
The personal history section is for any declarations of convictions, cautions and arrests. It is important to be completely honest in this section and declare even spent convictions. The reason for this section is to check that you are of good character. You may need to include police registration certificates if you have them.
You will also need supporting documentation to prove your status relevant to the category you are applying under. So for example a long residence applicant (14 years or more) would need all passports held during this time, Doctor’s letters, council tax, utility bills, National Insurance and Tax contributions made, Employer letters, Department for work and pensions letters, full birth certificate, mortgage or rent agreements and any other relevant documents to support your application.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but your legal advisor will be able to help you ensure you have all the relevant and required documents to support your application.
Common pitfalls when completing Form Set O
Given the extensive documents that must be collated, it can be easy to overlook the basics when completing form Set O. But getting these wrong can result in delays or even refusal of your application.
Here are some common yet basic areas to check before you submit form Set O:
Wrong ink and no signature
The form must be completed in black ink and must be signed by you and your representative.
Your representative not completing their section
Your representative needs to complete the section with their details. Failure to do this will result in your application being rejected.
Use the most up to date version of the form
Always make sure that you have the current form that is in use, if you have had your form for a while, check that it is still the current version, and print off a new one if it isn’t.
Not paying the correct fees
All fees must be paid at the correct times. For example, biometric testing fees are payable at the post office when you apply, not with your application. You need to also ensure that the correct fees are paid, otherwise your application will be returned to you minus a £25 admin charge and this could lead to unnecessary delays.
Not including all required supporting documents in their original format will lead to your application being rejected. If you are unable to supply a document in its original form, you will need to get a signed copy and send a letter of explanation with it. For example, a printed off bank statement would need to be officially signed and dated by the bank.
Having accurate information
Incorrect information on an application form will lead to an immediate rejection and could affect your chance of appeal. Likewise any missing information would do the same. One of the common errors people make is not filling in all the sections that are relevant to them. Check that you have filled in ALL relevant sections, ask your solicitor to double check it before sending.
Leaving it too long before applying
Another common mistake is leaving it too long before applying. You must not overstay your leave and still be residing in the UK at the time of application. However, you cannot apply more than 28 days before your current leave is up.
How long is ILR processing?
ILR applications can take around six months to be processed. Fast-tracked processing may be available for an additional fee. You will be advised if you are eligible for the priority processing when you make your application.
There are strict requirements you must meet to qualify to apply for UK settlement using the Set O form.
DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration solicitors. We help individuals with all aspects of the UK ILR application, from guidance on eligibility to supporting with compiling a comprehensive submission. For advice on making an application for ILR, contact us.
SET O Form FAQs
What is set o form?
SET (O) is the application form used to apply for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are in the UK under certain immigration categories, including the Tier 2, Tier 1 and UK ancestry routes.
What documents do I need to apply for indefinite leave?
Your ILR application will require extensive supporting documentation, including your passport, BRP, proof of residence and that you meet the English language and life in the UK test.
How much does it cost for indefinite leave to remain in the UK?
The ILR application fee is £2,885 per applicant.
Last updated: 7 September 2023