The United Kingdom remains a desirable destination for many people from outside the EU in search of a better life for their families. Obtaining permanent residence UK (PR UK) status is usually a lengthy process, taking an average of 5 years, depending on which route you are applying under.
This article explains who is eligible for permanent residence in UK, the various routes to residency, how to apply and how long it all takes.
Permanent resident UK
Also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, UK permanent residence is an immigration status granted to a person without the Right of Abode – basically the UK green card or permanent residence card UK.
An individual with permanent resident status can live and work in the UK indefinitely. You will no longer have any immigration restrictions on working or business in the UK and no time limits on your stay. You will have the permanent residence card UK that allows you to stay in the country, with no time limitations.
However, the right can lapse if an individual spends more than 2 years continuously outside the country.
If you’re looking for a residence permit in Europe that does not require you to live continuously in the country, you may be interested in Portugal’s Golden Visa program. It has a stay requirement of just 7 days per year.
Who is eligible for resident status?
You can apply for permanent residence in the UK after having legally resided in the nation for a certain amount of years. Generally, you must have lived and worked in the UK for at least five years. If you have a Tier 1 Visa, this can be reduced to two or three years. If you have an Innovator or Global Talent visa, you can apply for permanent residency after three years. You may also need to meet the salary or other financial requirements – this depends on your visa.
Below is a list showing the length of time you must spend in the UK on various visas to be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):
- Marriage or unmarried partner to UK citizen: 2 years
- Lawful stay on any basis (long stay): 10 years
- Unlawful stay: 14 years
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 work permit: 3 years
- Investor, sportsperson, business owner, arts: 5 years
- Ancestry: 5 years
If your stay in the UK is within any of the categories above and you have completed the stated length of time, you may be eligible to apply for British residency and obtain a permanent UK residence permit.
Check out our article about UK Visa.
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How to get Permanent Residency in the UK for Non-EU Citizen
Permanent residence in the UK is more commonly referred to as Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR). With IRL status, you can live and work in the UK permanently. You may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship after 12 months. If you have lived legally in the UK for at least 5 years, chances are you qualify for residency and PR UK is on the cards. Here we will provide how to get PR in the UK.
When it comes to residency, completing the application is, indeed, one of the last things you will do. First, you need to check your eligibility and collect all the relevant paperwork. Then you need to ensure you have access to all details about your immigration history, especially if you have been on a variety of visas since your arrival in the country.
Finally, when you put all this together, you can complete the application form with a degree of confidence.
There are two types of application forms you can use, make sure you choose the correct form applicable to your personal situation:
You can use this application form if you are the partner of a UK citizen or the parent of a child settled in the UK.
Use this form if you have lived in the UK in any one of the immigration categories above.
You will need to provide documents as proof of your legal stay in the UK as part of the application process. These may include:
- Bank account statements
- Council tax letters
- Letter from employer on company headed paper
Registering your non-EU family members in the UK
If you’re a citizen of a non-EU country and would like to settle permanently in the UK, you may apply for permanent residence. This is a UK permit for non EU nationals who can apply for permanent residence in the UK.
The eligibility criteria above applies to all family members wishing to join you. Each member of the family has to submit an application form in their own capacity as an individual. For children under the age of 18, you will make the application on their behalf as they are considered as minors.
If you’re here on Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa, your family may join you in the UK, considering you meet the criteria under each particular permit for sponsoring a spouse or dependent children.
Read about the changes to Tier 1 Visas.
Settling as a family member of a UK Citizen
This is one of the most common pathways to UK residency and you can apply if your partner is a UK citizen or settled in the UK.
Eligibility for settlement
Many people thinking about the settlement because they are a partner of a British citizen are currently on a family visa as a partner or spouse. This type of visa has three routes:
- 2-year route
- 5-year route
- 10-year route
If you are on any of the above visas, you need to have lived the UK for 2 years, 5 years and 10 years, respectively. Once you meet the time spent in the country criteria, you are ready to submit an application, on the condition you meet the other criteria below:
Your current visa should be in the partner category, so you must either be married to your British partner or be in a civil partnership or in a subsisting relationship though not married.
You must provide proof that you’re living together and intend to continue doing so after you are granted residency. Evidence may take the form of joint bank accounts, a joint tenancy agreement and other official documents.
To demonstrate your knowledge of British life, you must pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
Also, if English is not your first language, you must prove you can speak and understand the language by meeting the English Language requirements to get PR in the UK. An English qualification or holding an educational qualification from a recognised UK institution will often be enough to satisfy this requirement.
Proof of finances
You will need to provide proof of funds to support your family if you’re on the 5-year route visa. The funding expectations are currently as follows:
- At least £18,600 a year if you no dependent children
- At least £22,400 a year if you have one child
- Extra £2,400 a year for each child
Count all the children under the ages of 18 even if you’re not including them as part of the application. Children who are British or European Economic Area citizens should not be included when you’re calculating your annual earnings. Note, the earnings are joint and take into account both partners earnings.
There is no minimum earnings requirement on the 2-year route. However, you will need to provide evidence that you have enough money to support your family without public funds. If you’re on the 10-year route, there’s also no requirement to meet the minimum earnings but you will need to provide proof of income.
Permanent residence as a family member of someone settled in the UK
If your partner is settled in the UK after coming here on a work visa (Tier 1, 2 or 5 visa), you could be eligible for settlement.
You must be married or in a civil partnership or be in a relationship for at least two years.
Eligibility for partners
You must currently be on a visa as your partner’s dependent. If you received your visa after your partner was already settled, you will need to apply as a partner of a settled person.
If your current visa was issued before 9 July 2012, you must have lived with your partner for at least 2 years. This will go up to 5 years if your visa was granted on or after 9 July 2012.
When you apply, you must still be living together with your partner and intend to continue doing so. You should not be claiming benefits (accessing public funds) when you apply.
English Language and knowledge of life in the UK requirements also apply so you should make sure you satisfy these requirements before making your application for residency in the UK.
How to apply
For the UK PR process, you can make your application online. You will receive a response to your application within 6 months.
If you prefer to use the premium processing service, you can. You will receive an appointment where your application will be considered in person and you can get a decision on the day.
Residency application fees and processing times
You should expect up to 6 months of processing time for permanent residency applications made in the UK. Some applications may exceed the time limits, but most applications are decided within 6 months.
A processing fee is applicable, and as of the time of writing, the cost is £2389 for an individual application by post. You will pay more if you decide to make an application in person. The benefit of an in-person application is that you will receive a decision on the day and will not have to wait up to 6 months for your request to be processed.
Things to keep in mind about permanent residency
Although it is called permanent residency, there are a few conditions that apply, otherwise, it may not be permanent.
Although the status removes any time limits to your stay in the UK, if you spend more than 2 years outside the country, you will lose the status. If this happens, you will need to reapply for it.
Secondly, if you commit any criminal offenses which could lead to deportation, you may lose your right to stay in the UK as a permanent resident.
Global Citizen Solutions provides expert advice on residency and property investment in Portugal.
Frequently Asked Questions about permanent residence in the UK
What is permanent residence in the UK?
A permanent resident card in the UK – also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) – entitles the holder to live, work and study in the UK indefinitely without immigration restrictions and while still holding a foreign citizenship status and passport.
Who is eligible for permanent resident status in the UK?
In most cases, you can apply for permanent residence and get a UK PR visa if you have been living in the UK with a visa for at least 5 years. If you are married to a UK citizen, this period is usually shorter.
How do you get permanent residence in the UK?
Applications for permanent residence in the UK can be made online and usually require a copy of the correct completed form, your passport, biometric information, and the required supporting documents. You will need to show that you have the right of live in the UK.
Does permanent residence in the UK expire?
The right to permanent residence can lapse if an individual spends more than 2 years continuously outside the country.
How to get a green card in the UK?
You may apply for your green card in the UK after having resided there for at least five years. You can expect to receive your permanent residency six months after filing your application.
Can UK citizens get a green card?
Uk citizens are not required to get a green card since they already hold British citizenship.
How can I get a green card in the UK?
If you have lived legally in the UK for at least 5 years, you may qualify for permanent residency. In that case, you may file your application online through the government site.
How much it cost to get PR in UK?
The cost for an individual application by post is about £2389.
How many years to get pr in uk?
Obtaining permanent residence in the UK is usually a lengthy process. If you have lived in the UK for five years (or more) you should be able to apply for permanent residency in the UK.
Is it easy to get PR in the UK?
Although the process of obtaining permanent residency in the UK is straightforward, it requires a lot of time commitment on your end. If you have studied in a UK university and got good grades or talent in your field, then you should be able to apply for permanent residency.