People from outside the UK can settle after they have been living in the UK for a number of years. Settling means being able to stay in the UK without any time restrictions. The length of time needed to be eligible for settlement, and the requirements when applying, depend on nationality and visa route.
EU/EEA & Swiss nationals and their family members (whether European or non-European) who have lived in the UK for five years can apply for ‘Settled status’ through the EU Settlement Scheme. Information on applying for Settled status can be found on our Brexit page.
Non-Europeans wishing to settle in the UK apply for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR). There are several different application routes for ILR depending on the type of UK visa the applicant holds. SIT mainly advises those within the collegiate University who hold Tier 2 or Tier 1 Exceptional Talent/ Promise visas, but can also help those with other types of visas.
This page provides information about applying for ILR and the following page provides details the ILR requirements with links to Home Office guidance. Anyone within the collegiate University who is considering applying for ILR, however, can contact SIT directly for more information and support.
While UK VCAS, 'Life in the UK', and English language, centres have been going through a phased reopening since June, those intending to apply for ILR may still want to postpone submitting their application until later in the year. As there is a backlog of applications submitted while centres were closed it can take longer to obtain appointments. Also as the priority ILR application options were suspended by the Home Office and have not yet been reintroduced, a standard ILR application could take up to six months to process, during which time the applicant must not travel as if they do their application will automatically be cancelled.
Anyone intending to submit an ILR application, and particularly those who must submit their application soon before their current visa expires, should contact the Staff Immigration Team for advice.
Once a visa holder is granted ILR, they:
Home Office guidance provides more information on rights and status once ILR has been granted.
The table below lists visa routes which lead to ILR and the length of the qualifying period in each case. As this is based on the visa routes most often seen within the collegiate University, it is not an exhaustive list.
The Home Office ‘Find out whether you can apply to settle in the UK’ guide can help those who are unsure whether they are eligible to apply.
3 years – if endorsed in science or under the UKRI endorsed funder scheme
5 years – if endorsed in arts and culture or digital technology
in both cases this can include time spent under Tier 2
PBS Dependant - child
(of a UK national or Settled person)
Tier 4 (General) student,
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme
Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW)
Tier 1 (General)
With the exception of Tier 2 and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, it is not possible to combine time spent under different visas when applying under the standard 5 year ILR route. As a result, any switch from one visa route to another (such as Tier 2 to PBS Dependant, or vice versa) restarts the 5 year ‘clock’ to ILR.
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The following table provides a summary of the main costs for an ILR application. The same costs are payable for the main applicant and each dependent (main applicant's partner/ spouse and/ or dependent child). These Home Office fees tend to increase each year in April.
If dependants applying for ILR at the same time are included in the same online application the fees for all applicants will be charged as one very large combined fee, which cannot be split across more than one payment card. If payments are to be made using different cards dependant family members will have to complete and submit their own ILR application at the same time as the main applicant. Applicants may want to contact their bank before they pay large application fees on their card to avoid this possibly being stopped or delayed as an unusually large purchase.
The applicant will not be able to travel while their application is being processed, even though they will retain their documents.
Our reimbursement of visa costs & visa loan scheme pages provide details on the support the University can offer to applicants on the fees. The Visa Loan Scheme is not, unfortunately, available to those with ‘college only’ appointments.
ILR applications must be submitted online:
A standard (5yr) and ‘Long residence’ (10yr) ILR applications can take up to six months to process, and a further 1-2 weeks to receive the new BRP after a decision is made.
An application submitted through the Super Priority route should result in a decision within 1-2 working days but it will still take a further 1-2 weeks to then receive the new BRP.
An application submitted through the Priority route (a new option only available to Tier 2 visa holders who are applying for ILR) should result in a decision within around 5 working days but again it will take a further 1-2 weeks to then receive the new BRP.
Even though the applicant will retain their documents, they must not travel while their application is being processed. Any travel outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and the Channel Islands) automatically results in the application being withdrawn by the Home Office.
As long as an ILR application has been submitted before the current visa expires, the visa holder can continue to work under the conditions of their existing visa while the application is being processed.
If the application has not been decided at the point the current visa expires, the department/ college will need the application reference number to request verification of the applicant’s continuing right to work from the Home Office Employers Checking Service.
When ILR is granted, the new BRP must be presented to the department/ college so that they can carry out a new right to work check and update their records. If the applicant was a Tier 2 visa holder, the department/ college will also need to send copies of the new BRP and a Changes & Leavers form to the Staff Immigration Team (SIT).
When an ILR application is submitted online, the applicant is transferred to the Sopra Steria website to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UK VCAS) centre. Sopra Steria is the private company which runs the UK VCAS centres on behalf of the Home Office.
The main applicant and any dependants applying at the same time must submit their biometric information (fingerprints and facial image) at the UK VCAS appointment. Fingerprints are not taken for children under 5 years old.
Applying for ILR is expensive and can be complex. For this reason the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) provides support and advice on the requirements, application forms and process. Visa holders within the collegiate University can contact SIT at any point if they have queries or want to discuss applying for ILR. Where there is a choice between different types of application, SIT can discuss the requirements but cannot recommend one over another.
As SIT holds details for Tier 2 visa holders sponsored by the University, they run checks within six months of their visa expiring, to ascertain who may be ready to apply for ILR.
SIT is happy to assist applicants through the process of applying for ILR. They cannot, however, check ILR applications, supporting documents, or absence histories before submission.
If an applicant has complicated issues or queries, SIT can seek clarification from their immigration solicitor or the Home Office.
If, however, an applicant has very complicated issues or queries, or wishes to have their application, supporting documents and/or absence history checked before submission, they may want to seek their own advice from an immigration solicitor.
SIT has some experience of ‘Long residence’ ILR applications and can assist with queries on the requirements, application form and processes. SIT is not, however, in a position to provide as much support as they do for applications under the standard 5 year ILR route.
SIT can assist with queries on the requirements, application forms and processes for Naturalisation, and Registration (of children under 18), as a British citizen but are not in a position to provide as much support as they do for ILR applications.
The Staff Immigration Team (SIT) has made every effort to ensure the information provided on these pages is correct when published, but it is provided as an introduction only and does not constitute complete comprehensive guidance. Applicants should always check the requirements and can discuss any queries with SIT before applying.
The team runs regular training courses on Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5, Visitors and Right to Work
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