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5 year or 10 year route to indefinite leave to remain: what's the difference?

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 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 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 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 Skilled Worker Visa? 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 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


      What is the application process?

      As with the 5 year route, it is vital you meet the eligibility requirements as mentioned above. However with the 10 year route, you must be able to prove 10 years of continuous residence. Events that could break your continuous period 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 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 £2389, plus £19.20 for your biometric information.

      Contact the Manchester Immigration Lawyers

      For expert professional guidance 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.

      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 Skilled Worker Visa application. Call us now

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