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An individual who has lived legally in the UK for some time may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. This would give you the legal right to settle here permanently, free from immigration control. If you want to apply to live in UK permanently, speak to an immigration lawyer from Meyner and Landis LLP who is an expert in the law and procedures involved.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite leave to remain is the unconditional right to live in the UK permanently with no time limits attached and no restrictions on employment. Prerequisite to an application is the requirement that the applicant has lived in the UK for between two and five years. An important exemption to this rule is where the applicant has been legally married to a British citizen for two years and lived in the UK for two years.

If you previously had permission to settle in the UK, but decided to live abroad for a period, you may still be able to apply to return to the UK and remain permanently. Whether or not you can apply for indefinite leave to remain also depends on the nature of the visa you currently have.

To apply for indefinite leave to remain, you will need to show you have sufficient knowledge and understanding of UK language and culture. This does not apply if you are over 65 or have a long-term condition preventing you from learning English or from being tested on your knowledge of UK life.

There are, however, requirements that must be met to keep indefinite leave to remain status. This includes spending no more than two years outside the UK. If you do not speak English, you will have to pass a course in English and citizenship. If you speak English to a reasonable standard, you will be required to pass a Life in the UK test which examines your knowledge and understanding of life here.

British Citizenship

British citizens have the right to live and work in the UK. The law relating to British nationality is complicated, but the right to claim British nationality is determined by the British Nationality Act 1981 and related legislation. It is evidenced most commonly by a British passport.

If you wish to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen, you must take the Life in the UK test. In addition, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Intend to live continuously in the UK, or be in the service of an international organisation of which the UK is a member or which is established in the UK
  • Be able to speak and understand the English language (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic) to an acceptable standard
  • Be of sound mind and good character
  • Meet prescribed residential requirements for the particular ground on which your application for British Citizenship is based

These requirements depend, for example, on whether or not the applicant is married to a British citizen or whether he or she has been in the UK for at least five years, taking into account days absent from the UK.

Criminal checks will be made and an application will normally be turned down if an applicant has been convicted of a criminal offence and is not yet spent.


There are many factors relevant to your application for British citizenship, including whether you are a British overseas territories citizen or a British subject, the nature of your current citizenship and nationality, and what year you were born. You may also wish to give up British citizenship or have dual nationality. If you want to apply to live in UK permanently or have a related immigration issue, speak to an immigration lawyer from Meyner and Landis LLP who is an expert in immigration law.

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