How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain Spouse in UK

    How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain Spouse in UK

    Securing indefinite leave to remain (ILR) as a spouse in the UK allows you to live, work and study in the country without restrictions on your stay. However, it is an involved process that requires careful documentation and meeting several eligibility requirements.

    In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about applying for ILR as a spouse, from the eligibility criteria to preparing your application and what to expect.

    Are You Eligible to Apply for ILR?

    The first step is determining if you meet the basic eligibility criteria set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to apply for ILR. To be able to submit an ILR application as a spouse in the UK, you need to:

    • Be 18 years old or above
    • Be legally married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain [ILR]
    • Have completed a continuous period of 5 years in the UK with valid leave as a spouse (formerly called limited leave to remain [LLR])
    • Still be living with your spouse or civil partner in the UK
    • Not have breached any UK immigration laws during your time in the country
    • Have sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic

    You’ll also need to provide evidence that you satisfy these eligibility criteria along with your ILR application. So check you meet all the above requirements before starting the application process.

    Gathering your Supporting Documents

    If you meet the basic eligibility, it’s time to pull together all the necessary documents to include with your ILR application. UKVI will carefully review these to verify you qualify for indefinite leave to remain. Some key documents you’ll need include:

    Passport and Visas

    • A valid passport for at least 6 months after applying
    • Copies of all previous UK entry stamps and visas as evidence of your continuous leave

    Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate

    • The original certificate plus a certified translation if not in English
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    Evidence of Relationship

    • Bank statements, utility bills, council tax documents showing you’ve lived together for the past 5 years
    • Holiday photos together, letters/emails exchanged, birth/family event invitations

    English Language Evidence

    • Results slip for an approved English test at B1 level or above or evidence of exemption.

    Criminality Checks

    • Police registration certificates if required to register with local police station
    • Details of any cautions, convictions or ongoing criminal investigations.

    Take time to thoroughly collect each required document, get certified translations where needed, and make copies of everything for your records. Pay attention to detail, as even minor omissions could cause processing delays.

    Completing the ILR Application Form

    Once you have your documents ready, it’s time to fill out the ILR application form ILR(Spouse). Download the latest version from the UKVI website and follow the below tips to complete it correctly:

    • Use black ink and block capitals for legible handwriting
    • Enter all names, dates and passport/visa details exactly as shown in supporting documents
    • Answer all questions fully and honestly, including criminal history details
    • Sign and date the declaration stating all information provided is true and complete
    • Pay the applicable ILR application fee using an approved payment method
    • Print, bind and paginate supporting documents in the order listed in guidance notes

    Following the guidance closely ensures your application is clear and complete. Double check for errors before submitting to avoid unnecessary delays or rejections.

    Submitting your Application

    To submit your ILR application, you have two main options:

    Postal Submission

    • Package your application forms, payment slip and all supporting documents securely
    • Address it to the UKVI visa processing center handling spouse ILR applications
    • Send it via guaranteed tracked postal delivery for proof of receipt

    In-Person Submission

    • Book an appointment at a UKVI Visa Application Center near you
    • Take original documents, application packs and payment to submit in person

    In either case, keep records of submission including shipping receipts or appointment confirmation. UKVI aims to process applications within 12 weeks, but postal submission may take longer. You can check the status online using your application reference number.

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    Preparing for Biometrics Appointment

    A few weeks after submitting, you’ll receive instructions to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints and a digital photograph. Make sure to:

    • Check appointment details and location carefully
    • Allow plenty of time for transport on appointment day
    • Bring valid passport and appointment confirmation letter

    At the appointment, follow instructions to provide biometrics and cross check your personal details. Biometric data is securely matched to your application for identity verification purposes.

    Outcome of your ILR Application

    Once your biometrics are captured and all eligibility checks are complete, one of three outcomes is possible:

    Approval Granted

    If approved, you’ll receive an ILR document confirming your indefinite right to remain in the UK. Congratulations!

    Application Refused

    In the event of refusal, a detailed refusal notice explains the reasons. You can apply for an administrative review or submit a fresh application addressing issues raised.

    More Information Requested

    Occasionally more evidence or clarification is needed. Respond promptly with any requested documents or explanations to avoid delaying a decision.

    Monitor your application status diligently. Be prepared for either outcome by having contingency plans in place. The final decision generally arrives within 8-12 weeks of biometrics but can take longer during busy periods.

    Tips for a Smooth Application Process

    Applying for ILR can feel like a long and involved process. But focusing on a few things helps maximize your chances of success:

    • Meet all eligibility criteria and provide comprehensive evidence
    • Follow application guidelines precisely to avoid unnecessary rejections
    • Double check for errors or omissions before submitting
    • Respond quickly if contacted for additional documentation or clarification
    • Monitor application progress closely to catch any queries
    • Seek advice from a licensed immigration advisor if needed

    Most importantly, be patient throughout the process. With the right preparation and supporting documents, you’ve taken important steps towards securing your long-term right to remain in the UK with your spouse or partner.

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    What if my visa expires before a decision is made on my ILR application?

    If you have submitted a complete ILR application before your visa expires, you will be granted an automatic extension to your leave under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. This allows you to remain lawfully in the UK until a decision is made on your ILR application. Be sure to carry your ILR application receipt as evidence.

    Can I travel outside the UK while waiting for a decision?

    It is best to avoid unnecessary travel outside the UK until you have secured ILR approval. If you do need to travel for an essential reason like a family emergency, carry documents explaining your need to travel along with your ILR application receipt. Note prolonged absences may affect your ILR eligibility.

    What happens if my relationship breaks down during the process?

    Unfortunately, if your relationship ends before ILR is approved, your application will be refused. You can apply to switch to another route if eligible, e.g. parent of a British child. Relationship issues should be discussed sensitively with your immigration adviser to determine the best options.

    How long will it take to receive a decision?

    Standard processing time is around 12 weeks once biometrics are taken. It can be longer during busy periods. You can pay to use the Priority Visa Service to fast-track your application for a quicker decision within 8 weeks. Monitor your application closely online using the reference number.

    Can I appeal a refused ILR application?

    Yes, if refused you have a right to apply for an administrative review within 14 days to challenge factual or procedural errors. This is free. You can also submit a fresh application addressing the refusal reasons if eligible. Seek help from an accredited advisor on next steps.


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