Indefinite leave to remain (refugee, humanitarian protection or Discretionary Leave)

Skip to contents of guide


You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if you have:

  • refugee status or humanitarian protection (sometimes called ‘settlement protection’)
  • Discretionary Leave

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.

Check if you’re eligible for indefinite leave to remain.

Family members

Your family members may also be able to apply.

Partners and children in the UK

If they’re already in the UK as your dependant, you may be able to include your partner or child in your application. This includes children born in the UK.

Check if your family member is eligible.

If your application is successful, your family members will usually have permission to stay in the UK for the same length of time as you.

Partners and children outside the UK

Your family members may be able to apply to be reunited with you in the UK if your family was formed before you left your country.

If you formed your family after you left, they must first apply for a visa to join you in the UK. This also applies if they’re not eligible to apply as your partner or child.

If you care for an adult relative

Your adult dependent relative can apply if all the following are true:

They must apply separately - you cannot include them on your application.

Make your applications at the same time. Your adult dependent relative’s visa will expire if you’re granted ILR.


There’s no fee if you’re a refugee, a person with humanitarian protection or their partner or child.

If you have Discretionary Leave it costs £2,404 for you and each other person you include in your application. You’ll each need to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken - there’s no fee for this.

Getting a decision

You’ll usually get a decision within 6 months.

If you have Discretionary Leave and you paid to use the ‘super priority service’, you’ll get a decision within 2 working days. Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

If you have refugee status or humanitarian protection you cannot use the ‘super priority service’.

You must not travel outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction

If your application is approved

You can do the following:

  • work
  • run a business
  • study
  • use public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • apply for public funds (benefits) and pensions
  • apply for British citizenship, usually after a minimum of 12 months

Travelling outside the UK

You can travel outside the UK using a Home Office travel document.

You can lose your indefinite leave to remain if you:

If your application for indefinite leave to remain is refused

If your application is refused and you still need humanitarian protection, Discretionary Leave or are a refugee, you might still be able to stay in the UK. Your decision letter will explain what you’ve been offered instead of indefinite leave to remain.