All you need to know about Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Image Credit: AdobeStock

All you need to know about Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

Many persons are unsure what the term “Indefinite Leave to Remain” means when they take their first step to relocating to the UK.

All you need to know about Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Image Credit: AdobeStock

Breytenbachs have subsequently compiled short guidance on this very important immigration status. 

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is an immigration status confirming there is no time limit on the time that a person can stay in the UK. ILR is granted to a person on the basis that he/she is settled in the UK. 

As soon as a person obtains ILR, they have the right to live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions imposed on them. They may also leave and enter the UK without restriction. 

It is also a stepping stone to obtaining British citizenship. 

How to qualify for ILR 

It is important to note that one does not automatically receive ILR. You have to apply for ILR. 

There are a number of ways that a person can meet the time requirement to qualify to apply for ILR. Below are some circumstances leading to ILR; 

  • Completing five years on the UK Ancestral route; 
  • Completing five years as the holder of a UK Settlement/Spouse visa; 
  • Applicants may also qualify to apply for ILR after completing five years on some Points Based Immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker Visa. 
  • Long residence stays, that is in where you have been in the UK legally for ten continuous years.

Knowledge of Language and Life

To qualify, most persons applying for ILR applicants must pass a Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test (KoLL).  

To fulfil this requirement, you have two fulfil two tests, unless exempt:

  • To pass the Life in the UK test; and
  • To have an English speaking and listening qualification at the B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

ILR applicants under 18 years or older than 65 years do not need to fulfil the KOLL requirement. The Home Office also has the discretion to exempt applicants from this requirement, dependent on special circumstances.

Can one lose your ILR?

It is possible to lose your status of ILR if you have been absent from the UK for longer than two years. A person would normally be considered no longer settled in the UK, and the Home Office can revoke your ILR status. 

You can also lose your ILR status if you commit a serious offence in the UK and get deported. 

Stepping Stone to British Citizenship 

After holding the status of ILR for twelve months, a person can apply for British citizenship. You will, of course, have to fulfil certain criteria. 

In some circumstances persons do not need to meet the twelve-month qualifying period to apply. Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant for more advice in this regard. 

How Breytenbachs can help you 

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have offices in London, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. If you want to apply for a UK visa, please contact us to assess your circumstances and advise accordingly. You can email us at or visit Our consultants can assist with all UK immigration matters, visas, permits, including appeals and reviews. 

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes without any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.