Exploring the Pathway to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK

The 10-Year Long Residence Route:

The 10-year-long residence route offers a pathway for migrants who have lawfully lived in the UK, irrespective of the types of visas held during that period. Achieving ILR through this route allows individuals to reside indefinitely, work, establish businesses, pursue studies, and access previously ineligible benefits. Many long-term migrants residing in the United Kingdom may be unaware of the opportunity to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after living in the country for 10 years. This option grants permanent settlement and opens doors to various benefits and opportunities.

Benefits for Different Visa Holders:

This route is particularly advantageous for individuals who have held visas that do not count towards settlement or those who have switched visa types. Changing visa types can reset the accumulated qualifying time for ILR. For instance, someone transitioning from a work visa to a spouse visa would start anew in terms of meeting the ILR requirements.

Qualifying Criteria for the 10-Year Long Residence Route to ILR:

To qualify for ILR under the long residence route, the following eligibility criteria must be met:

  1. Continuous and Lawful Residence: Reside continuously and lawfully in the UK for a minimum of 10 years.
  2. Public Good: Demonstrate that granting ILR is in the public interest.
  3. English Language Requirement: Meet the English language proficiency requirements.
  4. Life in the UK Test: Pass the Life in the UK test.
  5. No Grounds for Refusal: Ensure there are no grounds for refusal, such as criminal activities or violations of immigration rules.

Applying for your ILR?

It is advisable to use an immigration lawyer or solicitor for your application, legal professionals have in-depth knowledge of immigration laws and regulations, can provide personalised guidance, ensure accurate completion of application forms, assist with gathering required documents, and increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Professional experts at Mulgrave Law can assist with you application. Book a Free consultation by calling 020 7253 7248.

 Continuous Residence Requirement:

To meet the 10-year continuous residence requirement, it is essential to demonstrate uninterrupted residence in the UK. This means not exceeding 180 days outside the UK in a single absence or a total of 540 days over the 10-year period. Periods of imprisonment and time spent in Ireland, the Isle of Manor the Channel Islands will not count towards continuous residence.

 Lawful Residence Requirement:

Throughout the 10-year period, it is crucial to maintain valid immigration permission. This includes various forms of leave, such as leave to enter or remain or time spent exempt from immigration control which can include diplomats or members of armed forces.

Leave as a visitor, short-term student and seasonal worker is not considered lawful residence for the purposes of lawful residence and will break continuous residence.

Temporary admission, temporary release or immigration bail will also not be considered lawful residence and will break continuous residence.

Overstaying the visa during the 10-year period generally breaks continuous residence except in a few limited circumstances.

English Language and Life in the UK Test:

In addition to continuous and lawful residence, applicants must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language. This requirement can be met through approved English language tests or qualifications at level B1 or above. Furthermore, passing the Life in the UK test is mandatory (unless you fall under an exemption) before applying for ILR.

Application Process for the 10-Year Long Residence ILR:

The application for ILR under the long residence route can be made up to 28 days before meeting the 10-year continuous residence requirement. It is crucial to avoid applying too early to prevent potential refusal due to not meeting the requirement. Seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer is recommended to ensure accurate calculation of the residence period.

The application can be completed online via the UKVI website, accompanied by the required fee of £2,404. Applicants are exempted from paying the immigration health surcharge as they will have full access to the NHS as settled individuals. Biometrics, including fingerprint scanning and photo capture, are done at a local UKVCAS service point. The application also requires the submission of several documents as evidence.

The decision on the application is typically received within 6 months. For expedited processing, an additional fee of £800 can be paid for the super-priority service, ensuring a decision by the end of the next working day.

Court Ruling and Recent Changes:

It is essential to consider recent developments related to the calculation of lawful residence. For example, a recent statement of changes to immigration rules specified that time spent on Immigration Bail, as a Visitor, Seasonal Worker, or as a Short-Term Student, will no longer be considered towards the qualifying period for Long Residence ILR.


The 10-year long residence route to ILR provides a valuable opportunity for individuals who have resided in the UK on different visa types or other forms of immigration permission. Accurate calculation of continuous lawful residence and proper documentation is crucial for a successful application. Consulting an immigration solicitor can ensure that all requirements are met, increasing the chances of a positive decision from the Home Office.

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