When Can I Apply for an ILR

When Can I Apply for an ILR After Spouse Visa?

Transitioning from a spouse visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a big step. It means you can potentially stay in the UK permanently. Knowing when and how to apply for ILR is particularly important for those living in the UK with a spouse visa.

In this guide, we discuss when and how to apply for ILR after holding a spouse visa and other details of the transition.

When Can I Apply for an ILR After Spouse Visa?

After living in the UK for 5 years on a spouse visa, you become qualified to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is a crucial milestone for those who are planning to settle permanently in the UK with their partner. 

You can begin your ILR application up to 28 days before finishing the 5-year duration. It’s essential to apply within this timeframe, as waiting until your current spouse visa expiry date could lead to complications, including the risk of overstaying and potential deportation.

In cases where your visa has expired, you may still apply for ILR within 14 days following the expiration, provided you have a valid reason for the delay.

Thus, applying for ILR in the 28-day window before your five-year mark on a spouse visa is the safest approach. This timely application demonstrates your commitment to UK immigration laws and helps ensure a seamless transition to ILR.

Also Read: How Long Is a Spouse Visa Valid in the UK?

Requirements to Apply for ILR After Spouse Visa

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK involves meeting several specific requirements. These criteria are designed to ensure that applicants are well-integrated into UK society and have the means to support themselves and their families.

Here’s a breakdown of the key requirements:

Genuine and Subsisting Relationship

One of the foremost requirements for an indefinite leave to remain application as a spouse is to prove that your relationship is genuine and ongoing. This means providing evidence that you and your spouse are living jointly and intend to continue your life together in the UK. 

This could include shared financial responsibilities, a joint lease or mortgage, or other documents that demonstrate your commitment to each other.

Financial Requirement

For the financial requirement, you must show that you and your partner have adequate financial means to support yourselves and any dependent children in the UK. This is typically established by fulfilling a minimum income threshold. It is also possible to meet the spouse visa requirement with savings or other non-employment incomes. 

The financial requirement for all family visas in the UK is £29,000 as of April 11th 2024. This will once again rise to £34,500 later in 2024, after which it will rise once again to £38,700 by early 2025. The UK government often revises these financial thresholds. To stay informed about the latest criteria and how to meet them through income, savings, investments or pensions, read our page on family visa financial requirements, or please get in touch with us directly.

Accommodation Requirements

Similar to the initial spouse visa application, you must establish satisfactory accommodation for your family without breaching public health regulations. The accommodation should be suitable for all family members, ensuring enough space and meeting living standards set by UK immigration guidelines.

The (KoLL) Requirement

To apply for ILR, you must also satisfy the KoLL requirement. This involves taking the Life in the UK test, which evaluates your familiarity with British life, culture, and history. You have to pay  £50 to sit for this test.

Additionally, you must meet the English language requirement, proving your ability to communicate effectively in English, which is vital for integrating into life in the UK.

Meeting these conditions as a spouse is essential for a successful ILR application. Each standard not only fulfils immigration regulations but also demonstrates your readiness to settle and integrate into the UK, contributing to society as a potential permanent resident.

Also Read: Fiancé Visa UK Priority Service

The ILR Application Process

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a spouse under the five-year route is a comprehensive process that involves careful preparation and submission of various documents. 

The primary form you will need to fill out and submit for this application is the online Form SET (M). Alongside this form, you’ll need to pay the application fee, which is currently £2,885 for a single applicant.

If dependents are included in your application, such as children who have authorisation to be in the UK as your dependents and are staying with you and your partner, additional fees will apply. 

Upon submission of your application, you’ll be prompted to give your fingerprints and a digital image of your face, collectively known as biometric information. There is an extra fee of £19.20 for this. This step is crucial for issuing your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). 

Required Documents

You will be required to provide several documents with your application. These include:

  • Any previous passports or travel documents used during your stay in the UK, along with your existing biometric residence permit.
  • Your partner’s passport or travel document establishing their settled status in the UK.
  • Proof of cohabitation with your spouse.
  • Financial evidence, such as wage slips and bank statements.
  • Appropriate English language credentials and your ‘Life in the UK’ test pass certificate.
  • Supporting documents for any absences from the UK, like employer letters or travel documents.

Additional documents such as passports or travel documents, birth or adoption certificates, and evidence of residence and your role in their upbringing are necessary for dependents.

How Long Does the ILR Application Take?

The duration required for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application processing generally varies around six months. This timeframe may feel a bit extensive, but it’s required to thoroughly analyse applications by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

It’s worth noting that the 6-month period is a rough estimate. In many cases, the process can conclude quicker, especially if the application is accurate and there are no errors or issues.

In some situations, the UKVI may request additional evidence or documentation. In such cases, responding promptly with the requested information is vital. Delays can prolong the process and potentially lead to a rejection of your ILR application.

The priority service may be beneficial for those desiring a quicker judgement, as it accelerates the processing time. This service arrives at an extra cost of £500 per application. 

Also Read: Is There an Immigration Health Surcharge for UK Fiancé Visa UK Applicants?

Let Spouse Visa Lawyers Help You With Your ILR Application

Immigration laws change often, and getting ILR can be tricky. Having a skilled immigration lawyer helps a lot.

Our team at Spouse Visa Lawyers specializes in helping people switch from a spouse visa to an ILR. We can make the process easier by checking if you qualify and ensuring your application is complete and correct with all the documents you need.

Ready to stay in the UK permanently with your family? Contact us today! We can help make your dream of living in the UK a reality.

You Ask, We Answer


Switching from a UK spouse visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) typically occurs after living in the UK for 5 years under the spouse visa. This process involves meeting specific requirements, including financial stability, accommodation, and a genuine relationship, and passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test.

The 5-year route refers to the period you must legally reside in the UK with a spouse visa before being eligible to apply for ILR. During these 5 years, you must adhere to the terms of your spouse visa and compile evidence of your life and relationship in the UK.

Yes, you may apply for British citizenship after obtaining ILR for at least a year. However, some other conditions include living consistently in the UK, accomplishing the “Life in the UK” exam, and fulfilling the English language proficiency requirements.

You can apply for ILR up to 28 days before completing your 5-year residency on a spouse visa. Applying within this timeframe is essential to ensure your legal stay in the UK isn’t interrupted.

Yes, you are allowed to work in the UK while on a spouse visa and while your ILR application is being processed. Your right to work continues as long as you adhere to the conditions of your current spouse visa.

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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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