Indefinite Leave to Remain for UK Spouse Visa

Indefinite Leave to Remain for UK Spouse Visa

If you’ve lived in the UK for five years with a spouse visa, your next step is to get the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The spouse visa lets you study and work, but it’s temporary. Moving to ILR means no more visa renewals or costs. It gives you stability and ends immigration control over your stay. After a year, you can apply for British citizenship.

This guide helps spouse visa holders get ILR. It explains the process, what you need, and how to make the move to a settled life in the UK easier.


When Can I Apply for ILR as a Spouse?

To be qualified to apply for an ILR from a spouse visa, you must have lived continuously in the UK for five years. This duration should be fulfilled through the initial 2.5 years of the spouse visa, followed by 2.5 years further through the spouse visa extension

There’s also the option of the 10-year-long residence route. This alternative is particularly relevant if you’ve accumulated over five years in the UK under various visa types, such as worker or partner visas. It allows for the combination of different periods spent in the UK on various visas, providing a flexible pathway to ILR.

However, selecting the most appropriate route can be complex. In such cases, consulting with an immigration lawyer is advisable to navigate the ILR application process effectively and ensure compliance with the requirements of the immigration rules.

Importantly, the timing of your application is crucial: you are eligible to apply 28 days before completing these five years. Applying earlier than this window may result in the refusal of your ILR application, as it’s seen as premature. Besides, delaying your application beyond the expiry of your current spouse visa can make you an overstayer, which may lead to application refusal and affect your immigration status.

Also Read: When to Apply for Spouse Visa Extension

Requirements for Applying for ILR from Spouse Visa

Transitioning from a spouse visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK involves meeting several key requirements:

Residence Requirement

It’s vital to prove that you have been in the UK for the specified duration, typically five years for spouse visa holders. This period must exclusively account for the time spent in the UK with your current partner under a spouse visa.

It’s essential to demonstrate a continuous intention to live with your partner in the UK. If you’ve had lengthy absences from the UK, you’ll need to justify them as compatible with your ongoing intention to reside with your partner.

Relationship Requirements

You must show that your circumstances, which qualified you for the spouse visa, persist: your partner is either a British national or an ILR holder, you’ve cohabited since your last visa renewal, and you intend to continue your life together in the UK. The Home Office assesses these factors to confirm that the relationship is genuine and not merely a means to obtain ILR.

Financial Requirements

The financial criteria for ILR mirror those of the family visa applications. 

The current financial requirement for UK Spouse Visas is £29,000 as of April 11th 2024. This is set to change to £34,500 later in the year, after which it will rise further to £38,700 by early 2025. This threshold is subject to regular modifications by the UK government. For the most recent information on how to fulfil these financial requirements through income, savings, pensions and investments, we encourage you to read our page on family visa financial requirements or get in touch with us.

Income sources include employment, self-employment, cash savings, pension, and non-work income like property rentals.

Also Read: How To Meet UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirements With Savings In 2024

Knowledge of Life in the UK

Applicants must pass the “Life in the UK” test, demonstrating a fundamental knowledge of British culture and civilisation. Exempts are available for those who are over 65, under the age of 18, or who have certain medical or mental health issues.

English Language Requirement

English proficiency is required and is often evidenced by an English-taught degree or a CEFR certificate at the B1, B2, C1, or C2 level. Exemptions are granted based on age, education level, health conditions, or nationality from certain English-speaking countries.

Read More: UK Spouse Visa English Test 2024:  Comprehensive Guide

Adequate Accommodation

Finally, you must prove that your family has appropriate accommodation in the UK. This means the accommodation should not be overcrowded, should meet health regulations, and should not require public funds.

Documents Required for ILR Application

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a spouse visa holder demands thorough documentation, both for yourself and any dependents included in the application. The following is a list of important documents required for a successful ILR application:

  1. Valid Passport or Travel Document: This serves as your primary identification and evidence of nationality.
  2. Proof of English Language Command: A certificate from an authorised test provider showing that you have passed a language test at the mandated level.
  3. Details of Absences from the UK: Documenting any periods spent outside the UK is crucial. This includes dates and reasons for each absence to prove your continuous habitation in the UK.
  4. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): If issued, your BRP must be included in your application to confirm your current immigration status.
  5. Accommodation Details: Proof of adequate living arrangements in the UK. This could include property ownership documents, rental agreements, or a letter from a host.
  6. Life in the UK Test Certificate: Evidence of passing the Life in the UK test, a mandatory prerequisite for ILR applicants.
  7. Completed ILR Application Form (Set M): This form specifically caters to spouses applying for ILR and must be filled out accurately and comprehensively.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Based on the individual case, you might need to show additional documents. All submitted documents must be original copies. Photocopies or uncertified copies are generally not accepted. If your documents are not in English or Welsh, they must include a certified translation. 

How Long Is the Processing Time for an ILR Spouse Visa?

Upon submitting your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a spouse visa holder, expect the processing time to potentially take up to six months. During this period, you’re permitted to remain in the UK, provided your application was timely submitted before the expiry of your current visa. 

For those seeking a quicker decision, the Home Office offers premium processing services. The ‘priority service’ is an option at an additional cost of £500 over the standard ILR application fee, promising a decision within five working days. An even faster alternative is the ‘super priority’ service, costing an extra £1000, with a determination by the end of the subsequent working day after your appointment, provided the appointment falls on a weekday.

It’s important to note that certain circumstances can extend the processing time. If the Home Office needs to verify your supporting documents or if an interview is required—especially in cases involving previous criminal or immigration issues—the processing of your ILR application may face significant delays.

This highlights the importance of submitting a comprehensive and accurate application, as any need for additional scrutiny can prolong your wait for a decision.

How Spouse Visa Lawyers Can Help?

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can be complicated. Our experienced immigration experts at Spouse Visa Lawyers are here to help. We specialize in spouse visa ILR applications and know how to make the process smooth and stress-free.

Every ILR application is different. We offer help that fits your needs. We’ll check if you can apply, help you get ready, and guide you. We’ll help you get the documents you need, meet the money and housing rules, and prepare for the Life in the UK and English tests.

Contact us today, and let us help you secure your future in the UK.

You Ask, We Answer


Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a permanent residence status granted to individuals living in the UK for a certain period. It allows a person to settle in the UK without any immigration restrictions, and after a certain period, ILR holders can apply for UK citizenship.

One must take the Life in the UK Test in order to apply for ILR. It assesses the applicant’s knowledge of British traditions, customs, and laws. You will need to pass this text for a successful ILR application.

No, hiring an immigration lawyer is not a requirement to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for a UK spouse visa. However, a lawyer can provide valuable expertise, ensuring your application is thorough and compliant with UK immigration rules. They can help navigate complex areas, potentially raising the possibility of a victorious application.

Yes, you can travel outside the UK. However, excessive time spent abroad might affect your ILR application, as you need to demonstrate your intention to live permanently with your partner in the UK.

As long as you submit your ILR application before your spouse visa expires, you are legally allowed to stay in the UK while your application is being processed.

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The information provided in our articles is intended solely for guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We do not assume responsibility for any liabilities arising from the information in written articles and recommend that all readers seek professional advice before taking any action. For those wishing to discuss their case with a professional, please feel free to contact us directly.

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