Once you’ve been in the UK for 5-years on the family visa route, you will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This means permanent settlement. This assumes that you have been on the 5-year route to ILR. The 5-year route to ILR is the default route, so unless UKVI notified you otherwise, you would normally assume that you are on the 5-year route. If you're not sure, you can contact us. We can advise on any aspect of your ILR application.
For those who first applied from outside the UK, you should count your time in the UK from the date of first entry marked on your family visa. This date is usually ink stamped on the visa vignette in your passport.
For those who applied from inside the UK, having switched from a different visa type, you would count your time in the UK from the first day of validity of your family visa. This would normally be noted on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
When you apply for your first family visa from outside the UK, you are granted 2 years and 9 months of leave to enter. When you apply for your family visa extension, you are granted 2 years and 6 months.
Therefore, if your first family visa was applied for from outside the UK, you may find that you reach the 5-year mark several months before your leave to remain actually expires. It is important to note, you do not need to wait until the last day of your leave to remain, before applying for ILR. Nor do you need to wait to within 28-days of that expiry date. You can apply for ILR anytime after you have reached 5-years minus 28-days on the family visa route, and before your leave expiry date.
But what are the differences between the Indefinite Leave to Remain application, and the previous two applications you already made by this point? The ILR application is basically the same as the FLR-M extension application you made previously, except for the following key differences.
For your Indefinite Leave to Remain application, you need to show that you have reached a minimum level B1 of the Common European Framework Reference (CEFR).
For the family visa route, you only need to take a 2-facet test, which means you will be tested on speaking and listening. You will not be tested on reading and writing.
You must take a test which is approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), and you can find details of which tests to take, here: UKVI approved English language tests. Your B1 certificate must not be older than 2-years at the date of application. Unless, you used this same certificate to obtain your current grant of leave, and your leave on the family visa route has been continuous since you took this test.
So for example, if you took the B1 test for your first family visa, instead of the A1 test, or, if you took the B1 test for your second family visa, instead of the A2 test, then you can use this same B1 test certificate to prove your English language all the way through to ILR, provided that you have been continuously on the family visa route since taking that test. Even though the certificate may be older than 2-years at the date of your ILR application. The grounding for this often overlooked clause is in Appendix KOLL, paragraph 2.2(b).
Other exceptions to the English language requirement are the same exceptions that were in place when you applied for your FLR-M extension application, i.e. you are a national of a country which UKVI designates as a majority English speaking country, or, if you have a UK degree, masters or PhD, or, if you have a non-UK degree, masters or PhD which was taught in English medium, and you have the relevant equivalency verification documents from ECCTIS (formerly UK NARIC).
Further exceptions to the English language requirement will apply if you are aged over 65 years, have a disability (physical or mental condition) which prevents you from meeting the requirement, or, if there are exceptional circumstances which prevent you from meeting the requirement.
You will need to have passed a Life in the UK test prior to submitting your Indefinite Leave to Remain application. Unlike English language tests, which have a validity of 2-years, there is no expiry date on a successful Life in the UK test pass. Therefore, you can begin preparing for this test well in advance of your ILR application date. You can find the details on how to book the test, and a link to the relevant textbook, here: Life in the UK test.
If you are making an Indefinite Leave to Remain application via the savings route, Category D, then the amount you require for a couple is £34,600.
This is lower than the £62,500 you would have needed for either the initial family visa application, or the subsequent FLR-M extension application.
To explain this, it’s easier to first explain how the £62,500 figure is reached, for initial and FLR-M applications:
So, for example:
So, when you make your ILR application, you are required to show sufficient savings in that instant only. You are not required to show sufficient savings for the coming 2.5 years. And for that reason, you only need to show £16,000 plus £18,600 on top of that. Which equals £34,600.
You can read more about using the Category D savings route in this article: UK Family visa – How to use savings in spouse, civil-partner, unmarried partner, fiancé or fiancée visa applications.
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