Guidance

Indefinite leave to remain in the UK

This guidance provides information about what it means to have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, also known as settlement.

If you have indefinite leave to remain or enter (ILR or ILE)

If you have ILR or ILE there is no longer any time limit on your ability to stay in the UK.

If you have ILR or ILE and your home is in the UK you are regarded as settled in the UK.

If you do not have a document to prove your ILR or ILE

If you believe that you have ILR or ILE but do not have a document to prove it, you can make a no time limit (NTL) application for confirmation of your status in the form of a biometric residence permit (BRP).

You can apply for NTL if:

  • your passport containing your status or previous NTL endorsement has been lost, stolen or has expired
  • you have ILR or ILE but you do not have any documentary evidence confirming this
  • you have legitimately changed your identity since being granted indefinite leave and want this confirmed on a BRP

You can apply for NTL using the BRP replacement service. More information is available in the NTL guidance.

Windrush Scheme

If you were settled in the UK on 1 January 1973, or arrived in the UK before 1988, you should check if you are eligible to apply for evidence of your status under the Windrush scheme.

If you have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you have ILR (settled status) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will not need to apply for a document confirming your status. The Home Office will have emailed you a link to an online service that you can use to view and prove your status.

EU Settlement Scheme guidance provides further information on what you’ll be able to do.

For more information, including where you might be given a physical document to prove your status, visit the ‘after you’ve applied’ chapter of the EU Settlement Scheme guidance.

Your biometric residence permit (BRP)

If you are settled in the UK your BRP will say either:

  • ‘Indefinite leave to remain’
  • ‘Indefinite leave to enter’
  • ‘No time limit’

Your BRP will last up to 10 years and will have an expiry date. We advise that you apply for a replacement around 3 months before expiry. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.

You must tell the Home Office if you want to change the personal details on your BRP, such as your name or gender, or if your facial appearance changes significantly. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.

If your BRP is lost or stolen in the UK you must report the loss or theft to the police as soon as possible and get a police report and crime reference number. You must also report this to the Home Office by using the service on GOV.UK. The BRP will be cancelled.

If your BRP is lost or stolen abroad, you must apply for a short-term single-entry visa to come back to the UK and then report it to the Home Office. You will then need to apply for a replacement BRP. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.

Working in the UK

You are free to work in the UK in any business, profession or employment, including self-employment. You must comply with the law and any statutory regulations for that business, profession or employment.

If you are thinking of going to live or work on the Isle of Man or Channel Islands, you should consult the immigration authorities of those islands first.

Studying in the UK

You are free to study in the UK.

Voting in the UK

Types of election, referendums, and who can vote provides information about whether you can vote in the UK.

Access to healthcare

The NHS entitlements: migrant health guide provides information about when and how you can access healthcare in the UK.

Generally, healthcare is available free to a person who is settled in the UK.

Access to benefits and services

To find out about individual benefits and who is entitled to access them visit the GOV.UK benefits section.

The new State Pension guide provides information on State Pensions for people who have lived and worked abroad.

You usually need 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions to be eligible for the new UK State Pension.

Children born in the UK while you are settled

If you have a child in the UK while you are settled here they will normally be a British citizen automatically at birth. If you have a child who was born in the UK after 1 January 1983 and who is not a British citizen, they may be entitled to be registered as a British citizen once you are settled in the UK. You can check if you can become a British citizen.

Family members who want to live with you in the UK

Family members who are not British citizens may be able to join you in the UK. Information on this is available in the section on family in the UK.

If you have status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can find more information about family members joining you in the UK in the guidance EU Settlement Scheme family permits.

Travelling outside the UK

You should take your BRP with you if you travel outside the UK otherwise you may be refused re-entry to the UK.

If you stay outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), for 2 or more years at a time your ILE or ILR will automatically end. If you have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, your leave will automatically end if you stay outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) for 5 or more years.

If this happens you will need to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident before coming back to live in the UK. Further information is available in the guidance on returning residents visas.

Can my indefinite leave to enter or remain be taken away?

If you are deported from the UK your indefinite leave will be invalidated.

Indefinite leave can also be taken away (revoked) if you:

  • are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons, such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • obtained leave by deception
  • were granted leave as a refugee and cease to be a refugee

Your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for 2 or more years (5 or more, if granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) at a time.

Becoming a British citizen

To apply for citizenship, you must usually have been living in the UK for at least 12 months after being granted indefinite leave. There are also other requirements. Visit Check if you can become a British citizenship for more information on eligibility and how to apply.

Published 24 June 2019