For those individuals in possession of a UK further leave to remain (FLR) as the spouse or partner of a British citizen or lawful permanent resident, it may be possible to apply for an indefinite leave to remain (ILR), otherwise known as permanent residency, which grants the holder the privilege of residing and working in the UK on a permanent basis.
The first key qualifying criteria for further leave to remain holders in order to be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain is that the applicant must have lived in the UK in accordance with the terms of their legal permission for at least five years. This requirement applies to those applicants who initially arrived in the UK on a settlement-class fiancee visa and subsequently switched their initial fiancée visa to a spouse visa by applying for further leave to remain from the UK, and those who originally came to the UK on a provisional two and a half year spouse visa issued by a British Consulate abroad and subsequently switched into the further leave to remain category from inside the UK to complete their five year probationary period to qualify for settlement.
Those applying for residency or settlement in the UK are required to pass the Knowledge of Life (KOL) in the UK test and show understanding of the UK and its culture, and ability to speak English. In general, the ILR applicants can satisfy the KOL requirement in one of the following two ways:
- by taking the ‘Life in the UK’ test (if the applicant already has the required standard of English language), or
- by taking an approved English for Speakers of Other Languages course (ESOL) including specific citizenship content.
Please note that effective 28 October 2013 applicants are required to pass both the Life in the UK test and B1 level English test before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
You must be physically present in the UK when you apply. The application for indefinite leave to remain must not be submitted sooner than 28 days before the end of the current permission to stay in the UK. Incorrectly filed applications will be returned, with no refund of the fee. You must also allow adequate time for your application to be processed. Therefore, it is not advised that you make any urgent travel plans prior to filing your application as there is no guarantee when your passport and visa documents will be returned. While there may be very particular circumstances that can speed up your application, it is highly unlikely that you will have your paperwork returned in a certain time frame.