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What's the difference between 5 year & 10 year route to settlement

The 5 year and 10 year routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain, both refer to the different pathways to settlement in the UK, and when you can apply.

If you would like professional immigration advice on making an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, our lawyers are here for you. Get in touch on 0161 826 9783.


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    What is the difference between the 5 and 10 year route to ILR?

    Having Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK means you no longer need to extend or switch your visa – the holder is allowed to stay “indefinitely” and immigration status is regarded as “settled”.

    The key difference between the 5 and 10 year routes to settlement is the time spent in the UK abiding by the terms of your visa and living lawfully, extending expired visa or switching your visa each time before your leave has run out.

    Skilled worker visa

    What is the 5 year route to settlement?

    On certain visas, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of lawful residence in the UK. Some examples are:

    • As the partner or spouse of a settled person or British citizen on a Spouse visa
    • Working in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa
    • As a child, partner or dependent of a British citizen or settled person
    • On a UK Ancestry visa
    • As a Representative of an Overseas Business

    This will also include visa switches and extensions. It is crucial that you meet all of the eligibility requirements and have not broken the terms of your leave.

    Calculating your qualifying time period

    It is important to note that only time spent lawfully in the UK counts towards the five year requirement. This can be counted backwards either from the date of your ILR status, the date of your application or up to 28 days afterwards.

    What are the eligibility requirements?

    To apply for ILR after five years, you must be able to prove your continuous residency period in the UK. This means you have lived in the UK without any absences longer than 180 days within any 12 month period, totalling 450 days across the five years. The Home Office wants to ensure that the UK is your main place of residence, rather than splitting your time between here and another country.

    Absences are counted on a rolling annual basis and only include full days spent outside the UK.

    Other eligibility criteria the requirements you must meet include but may not be limited to:

    • You must be over 18 years old
    • Pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at B1 level or above
    • Pass the Life in the UK test on British customs and culture
    • Have no severe or recent criminal convictions and have not broken any immigration rules

    Do you need help applying for a Indefinite Leave to Remain? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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      What is different about the 10 year route?

      As with the 5 year route, the 10 year route to settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain depends upon proving continuous lawful residence in the UK. Applying after 10 years is called “long residence”. Applicants could be on the 10 year route because:

      • They are a partner of a British citizen or settled person living in the UK
      • As a parent with sole parental responsibility for a child that has British citizenship or has lived in the UK for at least 7 continuous years

      Applicants could also meet the requirements for the 10 year private, family life route, leading to settlement if they:

      • Have resided continuously in the UK for 20 years; or
      • Are under 18 but have lived in the UK for at least 7 years; or
      • Are 18-25 and have spent at least half their life in the UK; or
      • Are at least 18 and have lived in the UK for less than 20 years but have no ties to their country of birth


      apply for british citizenship by marriage

      What is the application process?

      As with the 5 year route, it is vital you meet the eligibility requirements as mentioned above. However with all the suitability requirements for 10 year route, you must be able to prove 10 years of continuous residence. Events that could break your continuous period permanent residence would be:

      • Being absent from the UK for more than 6 months at a time
      • Spent more than 18 months total outside of the UK within the 10 year period
      • Left before November 2016 without valid leave to remain on departure and failed to apply for leave to enter within 28 days of your leave’s expiry

      All applications must be made online and can only be made up to 28 days in advance of you completing the 10 year qualifying period. You must have prepared all of your evidence documents to support your application.

      Once you have completed your visa application, you must attend an appointment at a visa centre to provide your biometric information, meaning your fingerprints and photograph, for your residence permit.

      Your application will cost £2,885, additionally for your biometric information.

      What are the Requirements for ILR?

      There are requirements that must be met in order to be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. All of these requirements must be met in order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain via the five-year procedure.

      The following criteria apply to ILR:

      • Must have spent five years in the UK with a valid visa or immigration authorization.
      • Must not have travelled beyond the UK for more than 180 days in a calendar year.
      • Must be able to prove that their level of proficiency in the English language is at least B1, as determined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (unless they are exempt).
      • Must successfully pass the Life in the UK exam. This test is focused on the nation’s history, customs, and culture.

      Does ILR expire?

      Once granted, indefinite leave to remain remains the owner’s property for as long as it is needed. Although your ILR can be held indefinitely, there are some circumstances in which it can be withdrawn or lost from a person.

      Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK visa holders risk having their status revoked if they don’t follow the requirements. Before applying for a legitimate immigration status, applicants would have received a detailed description of the precise agreements and conditions relating to ILR. If you are ever unclear about the terms or are worried about a breach, you can contact an immigration lawyer for more advice.

      A person in the UK with indefinite leave to remain may also lose their refugee status, in any of the following circumstances:

      • You tricked people to get your ILR.
      • Although you were granted leave while a refugee, your status has since changed.
      • Although you could be deported, you are legally prohibited from leaving the UK.

      Contact the Manchester Immigration Lawyers

      For expert and professional immigration lawyers and guidance comprehensive advice on making an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years or the 10 year route to settlement, or for any other immigration query, Manchester Immigration Lawyers are here to help.

      Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you whether you want to file for ILR via the 5-year or 10-year method.

      Given that the 10-year application process is extremely complicated from a legal standpoint, it is crucial for applicants to get guidance from an established dedicated immigration lawyer or law company.

      With the help of lawyers legal knowledge of our specialised ILR application package, we can assist you in requesting settled status in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain. One of our knowledgeable immigration attorneys will assist you throughout the full application procedure if you choose this service.

      First, regardless of whether you are applying via the 5-year or 10-year option, they will determine your eligibility for ILR.

      For an advice session tailored to your individual needs, contact our friendly client care team on 0161 826 9783 or fill in our contact form at the top of the page.

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      We can help you if you need help with your ILR application. Call us now

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                It is now necessary to renew your status after the Home Office has given you Indefinite Leave to Remain because it never expires. Therefore, a person who has been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom is not subject to any renewal fees. ILR application fees must be paid at that time.

                From October 2023, the cost of Indefinite Leave to Remain increased by £481 per person. Applicants for ILR previously had to pay a fee of £2,404; the fee for doing so currently is £2,885.

                There may be extra costs to take into account, including those for the Life in the UK Test, the English Language Test, and any fees for immigration legal advice or assistance from an immigration expert. However, obtaining legal counsel regarding prior immigration status is not a requirement for applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

                The distinctions between Settlement and Indefinite Leave to Remain are numerous. The fundamental distinction is that ILR is for non-EEA citizens to apply for residence in the United Kingdom, whereas settled status is only available to EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals. Another distinction is that people with established status have a far longer time restriction to leave the UK—up to five years—compared to people with indefinite leave to remain status. There are no expenses associated with submitting a settlement application, either. Furthermore, unlike the long testing and preparation required for Indefinite Leave to Remain, the application process for settlement is incredibly quick and easy.

                Before requesting a guest visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, a spouse must possess a spouse visa for at least five years in a row. Once the residency requirement for a partner visa has been met, an application for an ILR Spouse Visa may be made. The application may be made up to 28 days before the qualifying 60-month term is set to expire. In order to avoid the possibility of being deported from the United Kingdom and to avoid being barred from applying for another visa or indefinite leave to remain, the application must be submitted before the original visa is set to expire. Learn more here.