Call Now & Speak to an Expert
ILR AFTER 5 YEARS AS A SPOUSE VISA
After several years of living in the UK on a spouse visa with your UK based partner, it is likely that you will be looking forward to securing permanent settlement (also referred to as Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR). While the spouse visa is extremely advantageous in that it enables spouses and partners to join their loved ones in the UK, also allowing them to work and study, there is always the issue of knowing that at some point you will need to extend your visa or take further action before it expires. As such, this can lead to ongoing uncertainty and an inability to truly feel secure and settled in the UK. Gaining ILR changes this because it means you are no longer subject to immigration control, you no longer need to apply for more visas, you do not need to pay the costly immigration healthcare surcharge, and you can remain in the UK as long as you wish. Holding ILR also means you can apply for British citizenship after a further 12 months. Here we will take a closer look at how to gain ILR after 5 years as a spouse visa holder.
As a spouse visa holder, you will be able to apply for ILR after 5 years in the UK. It is worth mentioning, however, that you cannot apply too early. The Home Office guidance suggests that the earliest you can apply for a spouse visa is 28 days before the 5 year time-frame. Applying earlier will risk refusal of your spouse visa application. It is also imperative that you apply before the expiry of your current spouse visa. Waiting until after your spouse visa expires may mean that you are classed as an over-stayer and will almost certainly lead to a refusal of your ILR application.
It is important to note that you can also apply for ILR through what is referred to as the 10-year long residence route. While it may seem illogical to apply for ILR on the basis of a longer duration of residence, unlike other routes to ILR, you can combine all of the time you have spent on other visas in the UK. As such, it can make sense to use the long residence route if you have already spent over 5 years on various other visa types (e.g. working holiday and work visas). If you are unsure which route to ILR to use, we recommend speaking to an immigration solicitor who will be able to advise you. Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 00333 0124 253 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
No, unlike many other routes to ILR, if you are applying as a spouse or partner visa holder, you will not be expected to meet any absence residence requirements. You will, however, need to exercise caution when it comes to how long you spend outside of the UK on your spouse visa. This is because one of the conditions of the spouse visa is that holders must intend to live together in the UK. The Home Office guidance states, “In applications for further limited leave to remain or for indefinite leave to remain in the UK as a partner, where there have been limited periods of time spent outside the UK, this must be for good reasons, and the reasons must be consistent with the intention to live together permanently in the UK. Good reasons could include time spent overseas in connection with the applicant’s or their partner’s work, holidays, training or study” 1. This means that you can spend time outside of the UK, and there are no strict timeframes for how long you can do so, but you must have “good reasons” for leaving the country.
- Your partner must be settled in the UK – either as a British citizen or a person with indefinite leave to remain
When applying for ILR as a spouse/partner visa holder, you will need to show that factors that led to your visa being granted still apply. This means your partner must still be in the UK, they must be a British national or hold ILR, you must have lived with your partner since you last renewed your visa, and you must intend to continue living with your partner. The Home Office will want to be assured that your relationship is entirely genuine and it is not a “sham” for the purposes of gaining ILR in the UK.
You will need to pass the “Life in the UK” test, which is designed to ensure you have a broad understanding of British history and culture. This will need to be completed at an approved test centre. There is plenty of information available online, and there are several books available that explain how to pass the test. If you are under 18 or over 65, or you have a physical or mental condition, you may be exempt from taking the life in the UK test.
To gain ILR as a spouse visa holder, you will need to meet the English language requirements, either by:
Passing a CEFR English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level
Holding a degree taught or researched in English
If you are under 18 or over 65, or you have a physical or mental condition, you may be exempt from meeting the English language requirement. You will also not need to meet this requirement if you are from either one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or the USA.