Leave to Remain

Leave to Remain is how people without UK citizenship are able to stay legally in the UK for an assigned period of time. There are a few different types of Leave to Remain and different routes available depending on a person's individual circumstances.

Read more to learn about the different types of Leave to Remain and how to apply.

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What is Leave to Remain?

Leave to Remain is what non-UK citizens have to get in order to gain permission to stay in the UK for a limited period of time. There are a number of different types of visas that grant Leave to Remain depending on your circumstances ranging from family visas, work visas to study visas.

Once you have received Leave to Remain you have until your visa expiry date to stay in the UK. If you would like to stay beyond your expiry date you can apply for Further Leave to Remain and extend your visa.

Alternatively, once you have stayed in the UK for your allowed amount of time you may be eligible to settle in the UK permanently, which you can do by applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Indefinite Leave to Remain will allow you to live in the UK without any restrictions and is the first step towards naturalisation and full citizenship. 

What are the different types of Leave to Remain?

The type of Leave to Remain you need will depend on whether you already have a visa and how long you want to stay in the UK for. The different types of Leave to Remain are outlined below.

Limited Leave to Remain

Limited Leave to Remain refers to the status of those who have an approved UK visa. This means you’re approved to enter the UK and remain here until your visa expires, as long as you meet the conditions of your visa during this time (these conditions vary depending on the type of visa). For information about the specific conditions required for your visa, it’s always best to check the official guidance on the UK Government website.

Further Leave to Remain

Further Leave to Remain refers to someone who has applied to extend their stay in the UK, for example by extending their visa or switching to a different visa category. This must be done before the expiry date of your current permission to stay.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement)

Indefinite Leave to Remain, also called ‘settlement*’, refers to those who have permanent lawful status to settle in the UK.

If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain you’ll generally have the same rights as a UK citizen and no longer be subject to immigration control. You’ll have the right to live, work, and study in the UK as well as leave and enter the UK as you please. Indefinite Leave to Remain will not expire unless you live outside of the UK for more than two consecutive years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain is often used as a route to British Citizenship. If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain for a defined period of time it can be used to apply for British Citizenship by naturalisation, as long as you meet the other requirements.

*If you receive a settlement status through Indefinite Leave to Remain, it’s different to the EU settlement scheme for EEA nationals in the UK.

How can I get Indefinite Leave to Remain?

The specific requirements can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each applicant, including the type of visa they already hold. In order to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain you: 

  • Must have lived in the UK for a qualifying period of time (typically five years) 
  • Must have demonstrated your knowledge of the English language with B1 (GESE Grade 5) SELT qualification as set out by the Common European Framework of Languages (CEFR) 
  • Must have passed a Life in the UK test, which tests your understanding of British culture, history and traditions
  • Must not have breached any immigration laws during your stay in the UK
  • Must not have a criminal record
  • Must not have left the UK for a period of time exceeding 180 days in a 12 month period

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Leave to Remain and Indefinite Leave to Remain frequently asked questions

Leave to Remain means you have permission to stay in the UK for a period of time, the way to get this is through obtaining a type of visa that best fits your circumstances (such as spouse visa, work visa or study visa).

Your Leave to Remain status will last as long as the defined time period of your visa.

A Home Office status letter (also known as a 'statement of nationality entitlement') is an official document issued by the United Kingdom Visas & Immigration (UKVI) that shows a customer's British nationality status.

Typically someone with Leave to Remain is limited by their visa restrictions, which can include not being able to apply for welfare benefits.

Generally, to vote in the UK you must be registered to vote in the constituency, be of voting age (18 years old) and be either a British, qualifying Commonwealth citizen* or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

* To be a Commonwealth citizen one of your parents must have been born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when you were born or adopted. A qualifying Commonwealth citizen is someone who is resident in the UK and who has Leave to Remain in the UK or does not require Leave to Remain.

Leave to Remain is dependent on you following the restrictions defined by your visa, any breach of these can result in losing your Leave to Remain status.

For the current visa pricing please visit the UK Government website.

Permanent residence is the unconditional right of residence acquired by EU nationals and their family members under the EU Citizenship Directive 2004. This is not recognised in the UK after 1 January 2021 so those who want to keep their permanent residence right after Brexit have to apply for settled status.

  • Settled status is an immigration category granted to EU nationals and their family members under the EU settlement scheme. Settled status is granted free of charge and there is no requirement to show knowledge of English or to pass the Life in the UK test.
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain is subject to more requirements, including English language tests, life in the UK test and proof of good character.

Both, however, have no restrictions on the time you can spend in the UK. They give you the right to work, receive public funds and study in the UK without paying the overseas students' fees.

Your Indefinite Leave to Remain (IRL) status will not expire, but it can be lost in certain circumstances.

For example with ILR you’re unable to leave the country for more than two years. It is also important to know the difference between your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and your ILR. Even though your ILR will not expire, the BRP card which proves you have ILR status does have an expiry date. An expired BRP card does not mean that you lose your ILR status, just that the card itself has simply expired and can be renewed.

No, Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settled status which is available to those who have spent a certain period of time living in the UK, but it is a key step towards British Citizenship by naturalisation.

For the current visa pricing please visit the UK Government website.

Discretionary Leave to Remain is when people apply to stay in the UK due to circumstances that are compelling on compassionate grounds. This means you have to prove to the Home Office that you should be granted leave outside the immigration rules.

For more information about discretionary Leave to Remain visit the UK Government website.

Leave to Enter is granted to a person who is outside of the UK. Leave to Remain is granted to a person who is present in the UK.

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