Applying for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain)
After you have lived in the UK for a certain length of time, you may be eligible to apply for permission to settle in the UK. This is known as indefinite leave to remain. Acquiring this status will enable you to live and work in the UK without any restrictions. This status will also allow you to apply for British citizenship in the future.
The length of time that you will need to complete in the UK before being granted indefinite leave to remain depends on the immigration category you are currently under. In certain circumstances you will be granted indefinite leave to remain without completing any period of time in the UK. For example, if you are applying to settle in the UK as a child or elderly dependant relative.
Most people would have heard the Long Residence Rules, which permit any individual to apply for settlement who has at least 10 years’ continuous lawful residence in the UK or at least 14 years’ continuous residence in the UK. You will need to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ or ESOL test to qualify for settlement, although there are some exceptions to this requirement.
As of 6th April 2011, the rules relating to settlement have tightened. There is now a new criminality requirement, which means people wishing to apply for settlement must first be clear of any unspent convictions.