Settle in the UK

Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK: Settlement as a worker, partner, family member or after 10 years residence. 

eVisa and what happens when all BRPs expire on 31.12.2024

From 2025 all UK visas will be as an eVisa. An electric status in the Government system, without a physical card or stamp. All current BRPs “expire” on 31.12.2024, but it does not represent the expiry date of your status. The visa eligibility rules, and requirements towards the evidence, remain the same. 

Waiting times for ILR

The standard processing time by the Home Office is within 6 months. There is a fast-track service in most categories, with decision made by the next working day after the biometrics. 

What is my status while waiting, can I work and rent?

If you submitted ILR application before your previous visa expired (even on its last day), your status automatically extends in the same category as before, all the way until decision. This is known as a Section 3C leave. For as long as it takes, doesn’t matter if it runs beyond the old visa expiry date.

Example: you had a Skilled Worker visa, before it expired you applied for Indefinite Leave. It can take up to 6 months, so your status would continue as Skilled Worker during that time. Meaning you can only work for your Sponsor until the approval of ILR.

Can I travel while waiting?

You cannot travel abroad after applying and until the decision. If you do, your applications gets cancelled. 

Most common routes

Partners & Parents

Spouses, partners and parents of UK citizens need 5 years on a Partner or Parent visa respectively, in the standard 5-year route. Cannot count the Fiancee visa and cannot combine with other categories, including with the same visa in the 10-year route.


Most workers need 5 years in a category that leads to Settlement, such as 5 years on a Skilled Worker or 5 years on Ancestral visa. Some categories can be combined, some cannot be, as below.

10 Years Residence

The most common category is 10 years Long Residence where almost all categories can be combined, including the following. Partner and Parent 10-year route, Private Life after 10 years.

Can I combine visa categories to get 5 years?

It depends on the categories in question. Examples of permitted combinations: Skilled Worker and Global Talent or other way around; Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Skilled Worker but not other way around. 

Categories that cannot be combined to get 5 years

Student and Skilled Worker, Graduate and Skilled Worker. Ancestral visa cannot be combined with others. Spouse or Partner visa needs 5 years in the 5-year route route and cannot be combined with another category or with the same category in 10-year route. Main and dependant visas cannot be combined, such as Skilled Worker cannot be combined with a SW Dependant. Main is main, dependant is dependant, these are different visa categories.      

Hong Kong BNO visa and combinations

This visa needs 5 years in the UK, with the latest being a BNO visa. It can be combined with any previous category that leads to Settlement. For example, Skilled Worker + Hong Kong BNO. Or a Partner visa + Hong Kong BNO. But Student + BNO won’t work because Student visa is not a category that leads to Settlement.

10 years Long Residence

Has to be 10 years of continuous legal residence in the UK. Most visa categories can be counted except Visitor, Parent of a Child at School and some others. If you had some “permitted” overstaying, it does not count towards 10 years but does not break the continuity either. Unauthorised overstaying or time in prison break the continuity and “restart the clock”. During 10 years your absences must not have been more than 180 days in any 12 months. Also, for ILR your last visa must have been held for at least 12 months, otherwise you could apply for a Long Residence extension and then for ILR.  

Indefinite Leave is not "indefinite"

Despite the word “indefinite”, you could lose ILR if you leave the UK and stay abroad for too long. For those with a settled status under EU Settlement Scheme it is 5 years. For Swiss citizens it is 4 years. For everyone else it is just 2 years.  

Will I lose ILR if I apply for Naturalisation?

Yes, your ILR will be cancelled and your status in the system will be a British citizen. You would need to use your UK passport to enter the UK. If you are concerned about revealing your dual nationality, you need to check with the other countries in question (not the UK) whether they allow it. 

#1 for Settlement advice

We advise on the UK Immigration Rules, we train other lawyers and we do it well! We are accredited by The OISC at the highest level 3, ref F200800152, in which 2008 stands for the year of accreditation. We serve customers of all nationalities to settle in the UK after 5 years or after 10 years here, depending on your category.


Normally, dependants can only qualify for ILR when the main applicant does. For example, a Skilled Worker needs 5 years to qualify for ILR, so all dependants would have to wait until then. Exception: if a dependant has spent 10 years in the UK, they can apply for ILR in their own right. Dependant partner or spouse needs to spend 5 years in the UK on Dependent visas.

Dependant child can only apply for ILR with both parents. There is no minimum time that children have to spend here, but if a child came with you from abroad, in practice it means at least 5 years. However, a child born in the UK can be registered as British as soon as one parent secures ILR, without the need to apply for the child’s ILR. A child born in the UK can also apply for ILR after 7 years of living in the UK, legally or illegally, regardless of the parents’ status.

What if I qualify for ILR but my dependants don't?

This can happen if your family joined you later in the UK, so your partner will achieve 5 years later than you do. In this case, your partner still needs 5 years in the UK, so he/she would need an extension. Such extensions are for 3 years at a time, even if you need less time to make up 5 years. Your children will have to wait, get extension if needed, and apply with your partner, unless a scenario from above applies. 

Can my children apply with me, without my partner?

We are often asked this question and answer is usually No. Children can only qualify for ILR when both parents do. Or one parent has ILR and the other is applying later, so the children would have to also apply “later”. Otherwise, it is only possible for a single parent, a sole surviving parent or a parent who has sole responsibility for the child.

Dependants in a 3-year accelerated route

Global Talent and Innovator visas have an accelerated route, where ILR can be secured after just 3 years in the UK. However, a Dependant partner still needs 5 years. In this scenario, children will have to wait and apply with the 2nd parent, unless one of scenarios above applies, such as a child born in the UK.