Learn how to obtain settlement status in the UK if you have a family visa. Explore the process and requirements for settling in the UK

UK Family Visa Settlement

If you are looking to the UK to be your permanent home and you already are under the family visa, then you are on your way. This guide will help you learn about the necessary conditions and the procedures for getting Indefinite leave to the UK

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain

This allows you to live in the UK permanently. It is an achievement for those who have been residing in the country on an accredited partner visa or as a mother/father of a child staying in the UK.

Applying for ILR with a child visa

If you have a child visa, you can make an application for indefinite leave together with your application and this applies to parents who have been living in the UK for the shortest period. Every application via the scheme will be charged over £1,500.

Timing is Crucial

Apply before your current visa expires. Overstaying your visa could lead to losing your right to work in the UK, so it’s best to avoid this situation.

Eligibility Criteria

If you hold a partner visa and demonstrate that you still live with your partner in the UK. Even in the event of your partner’s passing, you can still apply for indefinite leave.

Parents of children in the UK must show that their child continues to reside in the country. Additionally, prove your responsibility for your child or establish regular visitation rights. If your child’s other parent is now your partner, consider applying for a partner visa instead of indefinite leave.

 If you switch from the 5-year route to indefinite leave to a partner visa, your 5-year countdown restarts. However, those on the 10-year route can combine time spent on both visa types.

Residency Duration: 

5-Year Route: You can typically apply for indefinite leave after living in the UK on a partner or parent visa for five consecutive years.

10-Year Route: If you obtained your visa based on exceptional circumstances or private and family life, you must reside in the UK for ten consecutive years before qualifying for indefinite leave. Refer to the letter received from the Home Office when you acquired your visa to confirm your route.


If you first came to the UK on a 6-month visa as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, this time doesn’t count towards the 5 or 10-year residency requirements for indefinite leave to remain.

Timing Your Application

Start your indefinite leave application about a month before reaching the required 5 or 10 years. Waiting until your visa expires can cause complications.

Time spent outside the UK 

The duration spent outside the UK impacts eligibility for indefinite leave, with certain conditions allowing exceptions.

On the 5-year route, legitimate reasons for extended absences, such as work, study, or training, may still qualify you for indefinite leave.

Half-Time Outside the UK: Spending more than half of your visa period outside the UK typically disqualifies you from indefinite leave, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Complex Visa Histories

Sometimes, time spent on other visas like skilled workers or UK ancestry visas can count towards your eligibility for indefinite leave. You must have entered the UK legally and usually wait at least a year on the 10-year route before applying for indefinite leave.

Extending Your Visa

If you haven’t lived in the UK long enough for indefinite leave, consider extending your visa until you meet the eligibility requirements. Look into extending your visa before it expires.

Financial Requirements

This can vary depending on your visa type and the route you’re taking towards indefinite leave.

Generally, there are no financial requirements for those following the 10-year route to indefinite leave.

 On the 5-year route, you must demonstrate a specified level of income or savings, referred to as the ‘financial requirement.’ The exact criteria vary based on your visa type:

Parent of a Child: Adequate maintenance test

Partner Visa: Full financial requirement (unless your partner receives certain disability benefits, in which case the adequate maintenance test applies)

Safe and Suitable Accommodation

There are no specific housing rules for individuals on the 10-year route to indefinite leave.

Those on the 5-year route must ensure their residence is safe, suitable, and spacious enough for themselves and their household. While owning a home is not mandatory, having a stable long-term residence, such as a tenancy agreement or a dedicated room in your parent’s house, is essential.

Language and Citizenship Tests for Indefinite Leave

To apply for indefinite leave, you’ll likely need to pass the English language and ‘Life in the UK’ tests.

English Language Test is required unless you:

Are you from a country where English is an official or majority language?

Hold a degree taught or researched in English.

Under 18 or over 65 years old?

Have a physical or mental condition preventing test completion (doctor’s confirmation required).

‘Life in the UK’ Test: Also required, evaluating your knowledge of UK laws and various aspects of life. Mandatory for individuals aged 18 to 65, with medical exemptions available for specific conditions.

Preparing for the Tests

Aim for at least level ‘B1’ on the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages’ (CEFR) scale for the English language test.

Use an approved test provider to ensure validity.

Determine the required test level based on your prior visa application.

Prepare for the ‘Life in the UK’ test by studying the official handbook or using the official app by TSO (The Stationery Office).

Consider enrolling in short courses designed to aid in test preparation.

Other Visa Extensions

If you don’t qualify for indefinite leave, you might be able to extend your visa instead. This is helpful if you haven’t passed the English language and ‘Life in the UK’ tests.

Rights with Indefinite Leave

Obtaining indefinite leave grants you several important privileges, such as:

Permission to work or study in the UK

Ability to rent or buy property, including applying for council housing

Eligibility for various benefits

Access to NHS healthcare services

Enrollment in educational institutions

Freedom to travel in and out of the UK without restrictions

Maintaining Your Indefinite Leave Status

Remember, you can lose your indefinite leave status if you spend more than two consecutive years outside the common travel area, which includes the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.

Getting indefinite leave to remain in the UK with a family visa is a major milestone, signifying your move to permanent residency. By knowing the eligibility criteria and requirements in this guide, you can confidently navigate the application process. Secure your future in the UK and enjoy the benefits of indefinite leave.

Scroll to Top