Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) offers migrants stability in the right to permanently reside in the UK. There are multiple routes towards obtaining ILR although a popular option is the 5 years path, wherein migrants residing in the UK on certain visas can apply for permanent UK residence and potentially work towards British Citizenship (as it is a necessary prerequisite). 

The 5-year route to Indefinite Leave to Remain

ILR, also referred to as permanent residence or settlement allows migrants to reside in the UK without having to extend their visas. It presents opportunities such as a path to citizenship and provides security for foreign workers. 5-year routes are popular as they are open to a wider range of visa categories including Work Visas, Business Visas and can be applicable for dependants. 

Who can apply for a 5-year route to ILR


There are Work and Business Visas that allow migrants to pursue a 5-year path towards Indefinite Leave to Remain, professional business people such as investors and innovators who are bringing money into the UK’s economy can gain ILR on the 5-year route. An investor must invest £2 million into the UK economy and innovators must meet all of the requirements stipulated in their visa agreement which can depend from case to case.

Workers can also apply for a 5-year path towards ILR with application options available for Skilled Worker Visas and those at the top of their respective fields residing in the UK through a Global Talent Visa.

Additionally, there are 5-year ILR options for others who are residing in the UK on their respective visas for different kinds of work like sportspeople and ministers of religion.


Another visa category that is applicable for a 5-year path to ILR is the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, this allows representatives of businesses in the UK to work here and support their business in contributing to the UK economy through trade. 


The 5-year route is a popular route for migrant families and dependants with applications available for those who are the spouse, civil partner, fiancé, proposed civil partner and unmarried partner of a permanent UK resident.

There are also 5-year paths for both the parents and children of UK residents, including those who are of British ancestry (i.e. grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.).

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers who have resided in the UK for 5 years and are here as a result of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, and political opinion as well as 

anything else that puts them at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political situation in their country can also apply and work towards a 5-year route to ILR.

ILR 5-year route requirements

You must meet certain requirements for your 5-year route ILR application to be granted. The foremost requirement is 5 years of lawful residence in the UK on a qualifying visa. Once you have almost completed your five years and while planning to apply for your ILR consider the following additional requirements which must be met:

  • You must pass the Life in the UK Test
  • You must meet the English language test or qualification requirements
  • You must also be able to prove that you have fulfilled all the requirements stipulated in your visa, which can vary depending on the visa that you have applied for. 

5-year route ILR requirements

Without passing the Life in the UK test (LUK) which proves your Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK (KOLL) is of an acceptable standard, you will not be able to achieve ILR. 

Additionally, there are further language requirements that must be met, you must achieve an English test certificate or qualification above the CEFR Level B1.

Please note that there are some exceptions for which people would be exempt to meet these requirements.

Once passing these tests you will not have to retake them for an application towards British Citizenship. 

When should I apply for ILR under the 5-year route?

Once you are close to the end of your 5-year residence on your visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Typically applicants would put forth their 5-year ILR application before the expiry of their visa or 28 days before the completion of your residential period depending on their current residence plan.

As a team of knowledgeable professionals with ample experience in the immigration law field, we can help put forth a timely and well-presented application that will get you a higher chance of success in your pursuit of ILR. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your application.

How we can help with your application

To obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years of residence, it is key to have a strong application on top of the tests and visa stipulations that you must pass. The team at QC Immigration will provide you with assistance and guidance in creating a strong case that will help the Home Office make a decision. We offer friendly and thorough assistance that will ensure that your application is as strong as it can be with all of the relevant and important documentation submitted in a timely and professional manner. Please send us an email or book a consultation if you’d like to speak to a member of the team.

You may also want to read the following information:


The 5-year route towards ILR that I have chosen has been rejected, what next?

If your application has been rejected you may challenge the Home Office’s decision through the right of appeal or another feasible remedy. However, in order to change their mind, you will need a strong and persuasive case. For this reason, it’s extremely advisable to work alongside legal professionals such as QC Immigration to highlight why the Home Office should reconsider.

I have spent significant time outside the UK during my visa residence, does this affect my chances of a successful ILR application?

Unfortunately, yes. If you have spent more than 180 days outside the UK over a 12-month period, you must provide documentation that it was for compelling reasons, otherwise, you will be less likely to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. We have successfully achieved this for clients in the past and can advise if you have a strong case in this instance.

QC Immigration specialises in this 5 Years’ Long Residence Indefinite Leave to Remain application. We have maintained an exceptional success rate including complicated cases. Contact us to discuss your unique case.

Need more information?

Learn more about how we work and support you through the UK Immigration Application Process.

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What do our users say

Thank you very much for your contribution and good job you have done for me and my family. Today, I feel that thanking you is not enough. You will remain in our hearts and we will always have this deepest and sincere regard for you, as you have always shown your kindness and your work have been appreciated by the whole family.

Long Residence Settlement (10 years) client – Mauritian

Qiyin is an extremely diligent and thorough immigration lawyer. She took the time to fully understand my case and application for the highly skilled migrant program. She was very careful to consider both the short and longer term issues related to my application and provided very balanced and frank advice. My highly skilled migrant visa was successfully renewed thanks to her advice and help. I highly recommend her.

Tier 1 (General) visa client – Singaporean

I would like to thank you for all the hard work you’ve done for us in the past few years! I am now finished with the whole process and had my UK Citizenship ceremony. We couldn’t have gotten this far without you!

Entry Clearance Settlement (Spouse) visa client – Canadian

Thank you for all your help. I got the visa this morning and look forward to going on holiday. See you again in 30 months for the next visa.

PEO same-day service (Spouse leave to remain) client – Thai

We are so glad that our friend recommended you to help with our ILR application and we have no doubt it may have been a different story if we were applying without your support! We appreciate your professional approach and knowledge on immigration matters and wish your business well in the future (we are sure you will be very successful). Have no doubt we will be using your services for our application for Citizenship.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (Spouse) client – Russian

The QC Immigration team has proved an absolute star on the immigration front and my son’s fiancée is now happily settled, thank you again.

Partner (Fiancée) Settlement Visa – Brazilian

Many thanks for all your work on our application, especially since I contacted you on short notice! I contacted you on Sept 22nd and we signed up with you on/around Sept 27th! So we pulled this all together a little over 3 weeks.

Premium Service (Fiancée) Partner visa client – American

You have exceeded our expectations by saving us so much time and money when organising this! Thank you for also co-operating with our investment manager and accountant to ensure everything ran smoothly.

Tier 1 Investor (Super Premium Service) client – Chinese

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client - Dutch

EEA Permanent Residence client – Belgian

My family and I were very emotional receiving the good news today. Thank you for all your help and we will definitely recommend you to our European friends who are planning ahead after Brexit!

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client – Dutch

My family and I were very emotional receiving the good news today. Thank you for all your help and we will definitely recommend you to our European friends who are planning ahead after Brexit!

Naturalisation (British Citizenship) client – Dutch