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A Guide to Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Via UK Ancestry)

After living in London for just under 5 years I finally qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). I have been preparing for this since I first arrived! Saving all my bills, contract, payslips and whatever other documentation I thought would be useful for the application. Yes, I am a little intense thinking about this before I had even lived here for a couple of years.

One of the most confusing things about applying for visas is the evidence. What on earth do they expect you to provide!? As it’s such a stressful process I have documented the information and steps I took to get my Indefinite Leave to Remain.

As the process does change regularly make sure you go to the gov.uk website before applying. This is all based on my sisters and I information and when we have applied. I have linked to all the official documents we used so you can reference these as well.

Disclaimer: Hi! this post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn a commission, see my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience (I’m not a lawyer or immigration advisor) and you should seek professional legal advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.

As things are changing (due 2020 events) with UKVCAS service please keep up to date with UKVI latest information and UKVAS.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa Criteria for Ancestry Route

The criteria for the IRL is:

  • you’ve been living and working in the UK for 5 years with a UK Ancestry visa
  • you’ve spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months of the last 5 years (known as ‘continuous residence’) – if you have then you will need to apply for an extension until you qualify.

If you’re 18 to 64 years old when you apply, you must also:

Before You Start Applying

There are two steps you should complete before starting the application, they are:

  • Pass your ‘Life in the UK Test’ also known as citizenship test. There is no expiry date on the test so do this as soon as possible. Also, don’t lose the number, you will need it for your citizenship application!
  • Prove your English language ability (countries like Australia and New Zealand are exempt from this)

When Can You Start Applying?

For a Set O or UK Ancestry route to ILR, the earliest you can apply is in your final 28 days before your visa ends. For example; my visa expired on the 10th of September 2018 so the start of the 28 days would be the 13th of August. Therefore the 13th of August is the first day I was allowed to apply.

You can see this stated at the start of the Set O application: Do not apply any sooner than 28 days before you complete your qualifying period.

When I say to apply this doesn’t mean you can’t start your application in advance. You are able to start your application 70 days which allows you to prepare the application and any information you need to gather to support it.

On the first day of your 28 days submit the application so when you get to the pay screen this where you cannot go back and change your application. Once paid you will be able to go to the next steps such as booking your biometric appointment.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa Financial Requirements

There is no listed financial requirements for the UK Ancestry route i.e. that you need savings in your account or give proof of income (just to clarify proof of incomes means that you need to prove you earn over a certain amount).

There is a statement that you need to show that you can support yourself which I did by showing my savings accounts and various other documents (more in the documents section below).

Visa Cost

The cost for ILR in 2018 is £2,389 to apply online and £3,189 with Super Priority (i.e. 24-hour decision) and this cost is per person. For the latest fees check GOV.UK settle in the UK page. The fees generally change April each year (the end of the tax year).

Additionally, there will be £19.20 for the biometrics. There are free appointments available at the core centres but if you don’t manage to get one of these there can be additional costs.

For my sisters application she went with standard decision as super priority is suspended. The cost for ILR in Dec 2020 is £2,389 for the visa, £19.20 for the biometrics and express appointment at £75 as she couldn’t find a free appointment.

You can pay the fees by debit or credit card. I paid the fee on my credit card, one to get the air miles and second it allows me to show more savings in my bank account.

Applying Yourself or Using a Company For Your ILR?

I applied by myself this time around instead of using a company. This time around I put a lot more research into what I needed to do to evidence the visa and information I would need. I was confident that I would be successful.

When I was at the Home Office there were a lot of applicants using companies so there will be plenty of places offering this service if you wish to choose this option. If you have a complicated application it’s a less risky option to go with.

Arrival Date or Visa Start Date (which to use when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain)

Before we start the application process less answer the question I see all the time on communities! Arrival Date or Visa Start Date?

Read page 8 Period between the issue of entry clearance and entering
the UK
of this document:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/834928/calculating-continuous-leave-v19.0ext.pdf

It basically says that as long as you arrive within 180 days after your visa starts and don’t go over the continuous period (i.e. 180 days in a rolling year) you can apply for ILR.

Application Process 

The best way to get to the right online form is to use the ‘find out if you can apply tool‘. This will direct you to the right application for your visa status.

With the new process, appointments will be available up to 28 days in advance. Gov.uk says on the initial Set(O) application page “Do not apply any sooner than 28 days before you complete your qualifying period.” A recommendation from UKVCAS is that you book your appointment within 5 days of submitting your applications. You will be reminded in 15 days if you have not done so.

As everyone needs to enrol their biometrics with their visa application you will need to book an appointment.

In this video, I run through all the questions and my answers in detailed. Please note the end form doesn’t display all the questions you are asked within the application.

Submitting Your Application

At the end of the application process you will be provided with three options to submit your application, only two are a viable option which is:

For this application, I decided to go with the premium service (this is now super-priority) instead of posting the application. When I was reading about the troubles others had with keeping jobs whilst waiting for their visa to be approved it sparked concerns. I didn’t want to go through the same troubles so I paid the extra for the ease.

Additionally not having my passport up to 6 months means that I won’t be able to travel so if something happened at home I wouldn’t be able to go. Plus not having an international holiday for 6 months!? That would be a struggle for me.

My sister has had to go with the standard process as this is all that is offered currently and won’t be allowed to leave the country until a decision is made on her application.

Booking Your Appointment

Once you complete your online form and pay you will be sent to a further actions page. On this page click the book biometric appointment and this will trigger an access code for the UKVCAS site. Once received you can set up your account with a password.

To read the full guide on biometrics appointment for UK Visas the UKVCAS process explained, here.

With the UKVCAS process you need to bring the following to the appointment:

  • Confirmation of your appointment, this can be just the document on your phone
  • Passport
  • I also brought all my documents to the appointment just in case

Evidence Required for Indefinite Leave to Remain Application

As my sister is applying in December 2020, I’ve updated the sections below to include what we both submitted and the updates for UK Ancestry. That way you can compare both our evidence provided and what we thought would meet the critera.

I find lots of threads asking whether the documents must be originals or copies can be supplied. As of the latest checklist in December 2020 it states:

  • You should use your supporting documents checklist as a guide to what documents you need to self-upload or take to your appointment.
  • You will be able to upload copies of your documents on our commercial partner’s website, or you can take your documents to your biometrics appointment to be scanned and uploaded by our commercial partner for a fee.
  • You do not need to send any physical documents to the Home Office or UK Visas & Immigration unless you are advised to do so.

The checklist also states:

If you do not provide any of these documents, we may not be able to make a decision on your application. Please note that we may occasionally ask you to provide other documents in addition to those listed.

Your application may be rejected if you do not provide all mandatory documents. If your application is rejected due to documents not being provided, it will not be considered and an administration fee for each person included in the application will be deducted from your refund.

All the titles and italics in this section of the article are the documents required by the Home Office for my application and what I have provided to meet these.

ILR documents
The stack of documents I provided to prove my ILR

The passport issued by Australia

Ok, pretty easy this one! I just included my current passport.

New-Australian-Passport

Evidence of UK Ancestry

Evidence that you have a grandparent who was born in the UK or Islands (including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Ireland (if they were born there before 31 March 1922) such as:

  • your full birth certificate
  • the full birth certificate of the parent through whom you are claiming UK ancestry
  • the birth certificate of your grandparent who was born in the UK or Islands
  • if you, your parent, or grandparent have changed name since birth, evidence of this, for example, marriage or civil partnership certificates

For my sisters application she included her birth certificate, our mum’s birth certificate (the parent we have UK Ancestry) and our granddad’s birth certificate (mum’s dad). As you can trace the hertitage via our birth certificates she didn’t include those.

There is another checkbox that says ‘Applicants’ birth certificate showing their parents’ names which is included in my sisters birth certificate.

This was not clear at the time of my application so I brought the documents just in case and then they said it was a must to include.

Evidence of immigration status in the UK

For this, we both provided this for our visa’s. Mine was a photocopy of my visa in my passport and my sisters was a copy of her UK Ancestry BRP card/ the initial vingette. Plus the above documents to prove our UK Ancestry connection.

Again like the requirement above it just requires a form to be signed.

The consent forms are included in the application documents. If you have joints accounts with your partner or anyone else then they will need to sign this. The sponsor will also be required to fill out a consent form. No joint accounts or sponsor then this isn’t required.

Employed Evidence

  • If you are employed at the date of application, please provide a letter from your current employer which confirms they will continue in their current job with that employer.
  • Documents to show you are employed, such as recent wage slips.
  • If you are self-employed, please provide one of the following: business and/or company accounts official letter from a registered accountant which confirms self-employment official tax documentation.

Unemployed Evidence (plus gaps in working history)

  •  If you are unemployed at the date of application, please provide alternate evidence to show your employment record throughout the five year period in this category of leave, and of any attempts to make and find work.
  • If you have been unemployed for long periods over the five years, you must provide reasons why you have failed to find work and evidence to show you have been looking for it.
  • You must also provide evidence of how you can support yourself without a regular income.

For my application I included every employment contract, 5 years worth of payslips and a letter stating I was employed.

For my sisters application she included current employment contract, a letter from her company stating that she was employed and 6 months worth of payslips.

Also to back this up, my sister and I provided P60’s and a letter from the HMRC which also show employment and that we have been paying taxes.

Here is an example of the letter I provided from my work place to support my application.

Example Employment Letter for ILR
Example Employment Letter for ILR

Psstt… to get an HMRC letter is really easy just 0300 200 3300, ask for 5 years’ worth of employment history to be sent to you in a letter.

HMRC letter
Example of the HMRC letter I provided for my ILR to help support my application.

Evidence of your finances. Bank statements, building society savings book(s), payslips or other formal documents

  • As evidence of your ability to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants without recourse to public funds. Note, we do not accept internet or cashpoint statements as evidence of finances.
  • If you claim that a relative or friend is providing you with financial support, in addition to evidence of your own finances, you must provide bank statements or other documents of the kind described above as evidence of their financial resources.
  • The documents showing the finances available to you and to any person supporting you should cover at least the last three months.

I asked my banks to provide one year of statements to support this evidence, HSBC provided this with ease and cover letter, however, Lloyds only provide 3 months (this is the minimum evidence) printed at the bank which they stamp to validate the statement.

I had four accounts I did this for plus I had a stack of old bank statements from 2013 until about 2015 which I included as additional evidence.

I actually forgot one of my bank statements, however, it was a small saving account so in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it would have added anything additional.

For my sisters application she just included 6 months worth of bank statements.

All previous passports, travel documents or national identity cards that you have used to travel to or remain in the UK

If you have received a new passport since your last leave to remain application, and your visa is in your old passport, you must include both passports.

I included my current passport and my old passport that was valid from 2008 until 2018, this had my initial visa in it to.

Old Australian Passport

Life in the UK Test pass notification (now electronic)

When I applied you were still issued a life in the UK test pass letter and this is what I added as evidence to both my ILR and citizenship application.

However, now you are issues with number that you include in your application. This will be issued after you pass the test.

Please, please, please don’t leave this to the last minute! Also, make sure your details are 100% correct. I have known people to get refused to take the test because their ID cut off their middle name or their country of birth was wrong. There is no expiry date so do this as soon as possible!

Life-in-the-UK-Pass-Notification
Make sure you keep your life in the UK test safe as you will also need it for Citizenship (if you plan on applying).

Reasons for absences from the UK (additional information I provided)

I included a full list of absences, tally of days outside of the UK and both passports to prove my absences. I have created a Google Docs spreadsheet as an example but you can also use the template to calculate your reason for absences. 

Here is the example of my reason for absences in the application. I also provided the spreadsheet as I had over 30 lines worth of trips to enter.

Prove the level of English language required

Not stated as a requirement for my sisters application so I assume that they are no longer stating this for exempt countries, as we are Australian. However when I applied it was simply providing my passport to prove this.

Some nationalities will require to take an English test, the pass letter just needs to be included in the application. Find out more information here.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa Processing Time

The processing time has changed with the new UKVAS service, you should expect a decision within the following timelines:

  • Standard service – get a decision within 6 months
  • Super priority – currently suspended. Check the website for the latest information on this.

Depending on the service you choose you should get an email from Home Office on that your application was approved or denied. If approved then you will receive by post your BRP and approval letter.

Decision Time

Once a decision has been made on your application you will be sent a letter stating whether you were approved or not approved.

As it is now emailed/posted to you I am not sure whether the caseworker is meant to tell you the reasons why you are unsuccessful. You could call the UKVI Support Centre to find out more information.

Approval Letter
Example of the ILR approval letter the Home Offices gives you

Receiving Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

The letter advising you that your application is approved will state that a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) has been ordered and sent to your address. If you completed the application yourself then it will be sent to your home, otherwise, it will be sent to the agency you used.

The BRP card should arrive in 10 working days, there are details in the letter of what to do if your BRP doesn’t arrive. The letter will also include handy information about your BRP, what happens if it gets lost etc.

The Home Office has a courier company that they assign to deliver the BRP  from Monday to Friday between 9 am to 5 pm. I am not sure you if you can track when your BRP card arrives via the visa website I got locked out!

If the courier company fails to deliver it to you the first time, they will send a letter with an ID you can use to re-book the delivery. It’s then a simple case of showing them some ID and signing for the package.

Biometric Residency Permit

Here’s what the Biometric Residence Permit looks like. The photo is so much better than my passport photo!

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Has an Expiry Dates

I had no idea that BRP had expiry dates until my card arrived! Turns out every 5ish years you will need to renew your BRP. I have read that others got 10 years on theirs my mine is weird 5 years 5 months until I need to renew it. You won’t need to reapply if you decide to progress down the citizenship path.

Next Step, UK Citizenship

Want to know how to apply for your UK citizenship? Here is a step by step on the UK citizenship application requirements and process. Finding helpful information can be a hassle so this article is here to help!

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience (I’m not a lawyer or immigration advisor) and you should seek professional legal advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.

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Ruth

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Hello Kat, thank you for your wonderful guide! I have applied for ILR on my Ancestry visa and am awaiting a decision. My employer will be announcing redundancies end of this month. If I lose my job do I need to inform UK Visas and Immigration / Home Office of the change? Thank you, Ruth

Penny

Sunday 14th of February 2021

Hi Kat - thank you for the extremely useful guidance! I am about to apply for ILR after the 5 yr ancestry visa. I note that from your list of docs and evidence required you haven’t included a letter from your landlord. I’ve seen it reference on other lists, but the actual list I’ve been given online for my form doesn’t include that it’s a requirement. Did your sister not need to provide this? Perhaps the list has changed? Many thanks again! Penny

Sayeeeda

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Kat Hope u are doin well:)..ur blog is so helpful but still i need to get some points to be cleared..i am goin fr my ukvcas appointment on 11th feb for ilr (long resindence)..so is this procedure straightforward like they will get my pic..biometrics and signature and dts all or will they inquire abt further on the day of my appointment..kindly let me knw wat will happen onthe day of my appointment:).. Waiting fr ur kind reply..Thank You Stay Blessed

Regards, Sayeeedaaa

Rashmi

Sunday 7th of February 2021

Hi Kat, My husband's spouse visa is expiring on Nov 11, 2021. When can he apply for his visa extension? Considering that priority service is not available currently, we are just worried whether the decision will arrive on time before current visa expires if the 28 day rule is applied.

Many thanks, Rashmi

Hayley

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Dear Kat, apologies if this has already been asked/answered. When I submit my application within in the 28 day window, but then need to wait up to 6 months for a response, do I receive a 'temporary visa' to cover this 5 month gap? Or does your submission for ILR validate this? I need to be able to answer this question for my employer. Many thanks Hayley

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