If you hold permission to stay in the UK as a spouse or partner and have completed the relevant qualifying period of residence, you will be eligible to apply for ILR under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. A successful ILR application will result in the applicant being permitted to stay in the UK without immigration restrictions. Here we explain the main requirements and process.
Similar rules apply to those who have entered into a civil partnership or are a couple living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years. The marriage or civil partnership must be legally recognised in the UK.
There are a number of requirements that all applicants applying for ILR as a spouse need to meet. These are set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. Most of these requirements will be similar to those that were applicable to the initial and extension applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK.
The main requirements are:
- The applicant must still be living in the UK lawfully with leave to remain as the spouse of:
- a British citizen;
- a settled person (i.e. someone with ILR or permanent residence); or
- a person who is in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection.
- The applicant must continue to be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with their UK spouse and both intend to live together permanently in the UK. The Home Office will expect to see evidence that the applicant has been living with their spouse since the last grant of leave. Although absences are permitted, if these are excessive then the Home Office may question the intention of the couple to live together permanently in the UK.
- The applicant must continue to meet the financial requirement.
- The applicant and their spouse must continue to have access to adequate accommodation without recourse to public funds. There is no specified definition of the meaning of adequate accommodation, but accommodation will not be considered as adequate if it is, or will be overcrowded, or it contravenes public health regulations.
- The applicant must be able to demonstrate the required level of English language.
- The applicant must have passed the Life in the UK test. For more information about the test and how to book go to: https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test
An application for ILR can be made up to 28 days in advance of the expiry of the applicant’s current visa. The applicant needs to be satisfied that they will meet all the eligibility requirements and have documentary evidence to support the application covering the last 30 months.
The applicant will then need to make an application online using the prescribed form SET(M) and pay the appropriate Home Office Fee*. The Applicant will, as part of the process, need to book an appointment to provide their biometric information. The applicant will usually be notified of the decision within six months if the standard service is used. If successful, the applicant will be granted ILR. Once the applicant has been granted ILR, they are able to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen immediately if they wish to do so.
*You can pay additional fees for the application to be decided quicker.
How our immigration solicitors can help
The Home Office will carefully scrutinise an application for ILR. If it does not consider that the relationship is genuine or if it considers that any of the other requirements have not been met, the application may be refused. It is therefore essential that the application is prepared carefully to ensure that all the requirements are met and evidenced adequately.
We are highly experienced in dealing with ILR applications for spouses and civil partners, to ensure a successful outcome, and will provide expert guidance to you throughout the process.
If you need any further information, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.