Settling in the UK on a Dependant Visa

Settling in the UK on a Dependant Visa: Explained

A Dependant Visa in the UK enables family members of certain visa holders, including those with work, study, or settled status, to join their relatives in the UK. If you currently reside in the UK on a Dependant Visa, you will be glad to know that you may be eligible to apply for permanent settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by fulfilling the eligibility criteria.

This article is designed to guide you through the essential information on transitioning from a dependant visa to ILR or permanent settlement. We will cover the eligibility criteria, the application process, and how partnering with skilled immigration solicitors can facilitate this significant step in your life in the UK.

Can I Apply for ILR from a Dependant Visa in the UK?

If you’re in the UK on a Dependant Visa, you might be wondering if you can apply for ILR. Here’s a straightforward explanation of who can apply and the criteria they need to meet.

For Dependant Partners

If your partner in the UK has permanent status or is applying for it, you might be eligible for ILR. This applies to those who are married, in civil partnerships, or living together as partners for at least two years. It’s important that you have been living together consistently in the UK during this time.

For Dependant Children

Children on a Dependant Visa can also apply for ILR. The main points to consider are:

  • The child should be under 18 when applying, or
  • If they are over 18, they should have been recognized as a dependant in their last visa application.

For both partners and children applying, it’s essential to show that the family lives together and supports each other in the UK. This helps demonstrate that the dependant’s life and home are genuinely in the UK.

Children who turn 18 during their stay and haven’t been dependants in a previous application generally need to look at other visa options suitable for their situation.

Read about: How to Apply for a Dependant Visa UK


Eligibility Criteria for Partner Dependants to Settle in the UK on a Dependant Visa

If you’re in the UK on a Dependant Visa and looking to secure Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you must meet some specific requirements. These are designed to ensure that those seeking to settle permanently are well-integrated into British society and have stable, genuine relationships in the UK.

Relationship Requirement

Firstly, you should have been previously granted permission as the dependant partner of someone on a Skilled Worker visa or another qualifying route or someone who has already settled or become a British citizen. Your relationship must be authentic and ongoing. You must have been living with your partner throughout your stay in the UK, showing a stable and committed partnership.

Qualifying Period and Continuous Residence Requirement

To qualify for ILR, you need to have been a dependant partner living continuously in the United Kingdom for five years. During this time, you shouldn’t spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month time frame.

English Language Requirement

Proficiency in English is a must unless you qualify for an exemption (such as being over a certain age or having specific physical or mental conditions). You should be able to speak and listen at a B1 level according to the CEFR framework for Languages. 

This can be demonstrated through certain academic qualifications taught in English or by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider.

Knowledge of Life in the UK Requirement

Unless you’re exempt, you must also show your understanding of British life. This is typically done by passing the “Life in the UK” test, which covers important aspects of British culture, history, and societal norms. This test is necessary for most applicants and ensures that you understand what it means to live in the UK.

ILR Criteria for Dependant Children

When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, dependant children must meet specific criteria that reflect the immigration status of their parent or guardian. Here’s a clear overview of what is required:

Relationship Requirement

The relationship of the child with the principal applicant is pivotal. The child should have been previously granted permission to stay in the UK as the dependant of a parent on the Skilled Worker route, has already settled in the UK, or is a British citizen. There are a few conditions to consider:

  • The child’s other parent should either be applying for ILR at the same time, have settled status, or be a British citizen.
  • If the child’s principal applicant parent is the only living parent or has sole responsibility for the child, these conditions may be relaxed. ILR might be granted under serious and compelling family circumstances in such cases.

Care Requirement

For children under 18, it’s crucial to show that they have appropriate care and accommodation arrangements in place that comply with UK laws. This ensures the child’s welfare is adequately protected while they reside in the UK.

Age Requirement

Dependant children who are 18 or older when applying must have been recognized as a dependant in their previous permission to stay under the Skilled Worker route and should not be leading an independent life. This means they should not be married, in a civil partnership, or living separately in a way that suggests they are no longer dependent on their parents.

English Language Requirement

While children under 18 are not required to meet an English language requirement, those over 18 must demonstrate their proficiency in English unless they have specific exemptions, such as certain disabilities or exceptional circumstances. This typically involves achieving a specified level on an approved English language test.

Knowledge of Life in the UK Requirement

Children under 18 are also exempt from the Knowledge of Life in the UK test. However, those over 18 must pass this test unless they are exempt. The test is designed to ensure that applicants have a basic understanding of British customs, traditions, the legal and political system, essentially confirming their readiness to integrate into British society.

Also Read: What Are ILR Dependant Visa Requirements?

How to Apply for ILR as a Dependant

When applying for settlement or ILR as dependants, the process starts with an online application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the UK’s Home Office division tasked with overseeing visa applications.

Applicants must complete the online application form on the official UKVI platform with accurate and current information. As part of this process, you may need to re-enroll your biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photograph, to verify your identity.

The application also requires submitting various supporting documents that verify your eligibility and status as dependants under UK immigration rules. You will be instructed on which specific documents are required when you fill out your application.

These documents typically include your current passport or travel document, proof of your association with the primary visa holder, proof of continuous residence in the UK, and compliance with the language prerequisite and life in the UK requirements.

You must also disburse the appropriate application fee, which is a required part of the application process. 

Get to know about: What Are the New UK Dependant Visa Rules for Care Workers in 2024?

Let Our Immigration Solicitors Make the Journey Easier

The process of obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a dependant can be complex and demanding. 

Our experienced immigration solicitors are ready to help you with your application. We are well aware of the specifics of UK immigration regulations and will make sure that your application is complete, compliant, and submitted on time.

Whether you are applying as a dependant partner or on behalf of a child, our solicitors can help you navigate the complexities of the application process, ensuring that all legal criteria are met and your chances of success are maximized.

Contact us today to find out how we can assist you and your family secure your future in the UK. Let us help you make the transition to permanent residency as smooth and stress-free as possible.

You Ask, We Answer


The processing period for ILR applications can differ, but typically it takes about 6 months. However, you can opt for a priority service for an extra fee, which may reduce the processing time.

Yes, children over 18 can apply for indefinite leave provided they were previously granted permission as dependants and are not leading an independent life. This includes not being married, in a civil partnership, or forming an independent family unit.

The requirements include proof of relationship to the main visa holder, financial stability, and meeting English language proficiency, among others.

Yes, individuals holding a UK Dependant Visa are normally permitted to work in the UK without restrictions.

A Dependant Visa is for family members of certain visa holders in the UK, while a Skilled Work Visa is for individuals who have been granted permission to come to the UK to work based on their skills or employment offer.

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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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