In this first or two posts, we provide an overview of the quickest ways to obtain indefinite leave to remain (ILR) status in the UK. Other routes, such as the 5, 10, 20 year routes to settlement and how dependants on these routes can obtain ILR status will be looked at in posts to follow.
What Is Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite leave to remain status allows one to live and work in the UK without needing to apply for any further visas. It provides other benefits such as freedom of movement, in terms of leaving and entering the UK, and access to health care. It is, ultimately, a fundamental step in making the UK a permanent home, but how does one obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain status and how long does it take for one to be settled in the UK? These questions all depend on the route(s) taken to be in the UK in the first place.
It is important to note that this post only provides a quick overview of the routes to settlement and detailed information can be found within the links provided. If you would like to explore your options in obtaining ILR status further, please get in touch with one of our expert immigration barristers as detailed below.
What Are the Shortest Routes to Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain Status?
Global Talent Route
One of the routes which provides the quickest period to settlement and which is still open to initial main applications is the Global Talent route. This replaced the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category and is for those individuals wishing to work in the UK who can demonstrate that they are leaders (those classed as talented) or potential leaders (those classed as promising) in any of the following fields: medicine, science, engineering, humanities, arts and culture and digital technology. This route for many is reliant on obtaining an endorsement from prescribed endorsing bodies.
Indefinite leave to remain status can be obtained after having spent 3 or 5 continuous years in the UK via this route.The 3 year continuous ILR route is open to those:
- Endorsed by either the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society or UK Research and Innovation; or
- Endorsed by Arts Council England and Tech Nation as a recognised leader in their field, that is recognised as an individual demonstrating exceptional talent; or
- Able to demonstrate that they were granted their initial application based on having an eligible prize, listed in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes.
The 5 year continuous route to settlement is for those last endorsed by Arts Council England or Tech Nation within their exceptional promise criteria.
The Innovator route is for those creatives who would like to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable and scalable business idea. Individuals in this route must have either significantly contributed to the business idea or generated it themselves. To enter this category currently, innovators are generally expected to have at least £50,000 to invest in their business and are required to have a key day to day management and development role. They will also require an endorsement from an approved UK endorsing body. A key restriction is that those within this route are only allowed to work for their own business. There are potential immigration rule changes and those interested in this route should keep an eye on future posts which will detail any new implementation of rules.
Indefinite leave to remain status can be obtained after having spent 3 years in this category. Although a slightly less complicated route to make an initial application into, provided you have the investment funds and endorsement, settlement via this route needs to be carefully navigated with reliance on expert immigration advice to ensure that the detailed and stringent requirements are successfully met in a manner that best suits your circumstances. Requirements include, ensuring you still have an endorsement and demonstrating that you have achieved significant milestones measured against the business plan provided for your previous endorsement, such as showing you have created at least 10 or 5 full time jobs for those resident in the UK.
Tier 1 Investor Route
The Tier 1 Investor category is now closed to new initial applications and to those wishing to switch into the routes. Those currently on the routes, however, do have the option of obtaining indefinite leave to remain status although this is time limited (17 February 2028 for those on the Tier 1 Investor route and 05 April 2025 for those on the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route).
Settlement as a Tier 1 Investor can occur after 2, 3 or 5 continuous years. This ILR route is for high net worth individuals who make a substantial financial investment into the UK. The accelerated route to settlement is therefore, unsurprisingly, linked to how much money one has invested in the UK. With those investing and maintaining an investment of £10 million acquiring ILR after 2 years, with a £5 million investment and maintenance of such an amount leading to settlement at an accelerated period of 3 years. The 5 year ILR route generally requires £1 million or £2 million to have been invested (the amounts differ based on the rules that were in place when one obtained their Tier 1 Investor entry clearance status as detailed here).
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Route
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category is now also closed to new initial applications and to those wishing to switch into the route. If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur you are able to apply for settlement before 05 April 2025.
Indefinite leave to remain status as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur can be acquired at an accelerated rate after 3 years where one has either created at least 10 full-time new jobs or has a business with a turnover of at least £5 million. Those who are unable to meet these requirements can obtain indefinite leave to remain status after 5 continuous years in the UK by meeting requirements which demonstrate that they have, for example, invested £200,000 or £50,000 in business(es) in the UK, have created at least 2 full time jobs for those settled in the UK and these jobs have existed for at least 12 months and the individual is still registered as a business director. For full requirements pertaining to obtaining ILR status after 5 years, this post proves particularly useful.
This post has provided a brief overview of some of the quickest ways to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain status in the UK. The next post in this series will consider the 5 year routes to settlement, whether that is on a business, employment or family basis.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.