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 wanted to make sure I could share the information and steps I took to get my Indefinite Leave to Remain.  

I hope this article gives you an idea of the ILR experience or evidence you are expected to produce. If you have any questions about the process or my evidence let me know in the comment section! Good Luck and I hope your application goes smoothly. 

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience and you should seek professional advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.

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

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.

The application itself can be started way more in advance. I think it’s 70 days in advance that the website allows you to prepare the application before you need to re-do the application.

Make sure you complete your Life in the UK test before your application as well. There are no expiry dates on this so you can complete it any time you are ready.

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).

For example, on Tier 2 ILR you will need to prove that you are on the jobs shortage list and you meant the minimum salary requirements.

Visa Cost

The cost for ILR in 2018 is £2,389 to apply by post and £2,999 to apply in person (premium service) 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).

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 I got to show that I had more savings.

Applying Yourself or Using a Company For Your ILR?

I applied by myself this time around instead of using of 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 riskier option to go with.

Application Process 

UK Visas has launched a new beta site for Settlement Visa, to apply use this link. You can start the application in advance and will allow you time to complete the form.

If you are applying for the premium appointment then the application should be completed 45 business days in advance to allow you to book an appointment in your 28 day window.

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:

  • Postal
  • Premium Service
  • Super Premium Service (not sure about you but I don’t have £10k to pay for this service so this was not an option).

For this application I decided to go with the premium service 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.

The online application process will give you five documents you will need to bring as well: 

  • Copy of the payment
  • Checklist (explained below)
  • Bio-metric enrolment
  • Verification checks (explained below)
  • And the application.

Evidence Required for Indefinite Leave to Remain Application

UK Visas new beta site now provides a handy checklist. In the below sections I have included what I provide and what the immigration asked for so you can see the comparison.

I find lots of threads asking whether the documents must be originals or copies can be supplied. As of the 5th of November, the Home Office now states “any evidence requested after this date can be originals or copies. However, if we require your passport it must be the original and not a copy.”

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

Mandatory Documents

All bold sections is what the Home Office states as evidence you need to provide and then I have included what I did provide to meet their bold requirements.

The passport issued by Australia for Miss Katherine…

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

Two passport photos for Miss Katherine …. On the back of your passport photograph, please provide your full name. There are rules about what your photograph should look like. To find out more about these rules, go to

Again another easy requirement, I included two passport photos of myself with my name written on the back.

The Home Office has announced, “If you submit your application on or after 5 November 2018 you will not be required to provide a passport photo as part of your application.”

Other Documents

Life in the UK Test pass notification.

Include your Life in the UK Test pass letter in the application.

Reasons for absences from the UK .        

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. 

If you are applying via Tier 2 IRL then you will need to include a letter from your workplace to support the absences.

Document(s) showing that you are able to work and intend to take or seek employment in the UK.

For this, I included all employment contracts, payslips, a letter from the HRMC, P60’s and a few P45’s.

Consent form for the Home Office to request verification checks on Miss Katherine for joint accounts or third party support.

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.

Declaration signed by Miss Katherine to confirm consent for the Home Office to request verification checks.

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

The Australia passport, identity card or official letter for Miss Katherine to prove the level of English language required.

Another easy one for me, I included my passport. Some nationalities will require to take an English test, the pass letter just needs to be included in the application. Find out more information by going to

Evidence of Miss Katherine immigration status in the UK.

For this I had my current visa and the documents I used to prove my Ancestry so my birth certificate, mums birth certificate and granddads. I didn’t expect them to needs this and I just added a precaution more than anything else. When I asked the officers at the premium service she said that I should include it so I suggest adding this evidence.

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.

I asked my work workplace to provide a letter stating that I worked there and I also provided my current workplace contract to support this requirement. I’ve not had any gaps in my work whilst in the UK a part from when I arrived in the UK and therefore didn’t include any other evidence.

Evidence of your finances. Bank statements, building society savings book(s), pay slips 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.

As payslips are key thing mentioned I included two jobs worth of history which equated to 4 years’ worth of payslips.

My support evidence wasn’t perfect as I only found my first jobs payslips at the last minutes so didn’t include these. Ideally these should have been included, however, I did have an HRMC letter that supports that I worked between this time and the company that it was with. My new job hadn’t issued a payslip yet so the supporting letter and contract was the only thing I had the support that job.

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

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. 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.

I didn’t have all my previous passports so I just included one which was my passport valid from 2008 until 2018.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa Processing Time

The postal service can take up to 6 months for your application to be reviewed and a decision to be made. During this time you won’t have access to your passport or the original documents.

Premium service aims to make a decision on the day, plus all your documents and passport is returned on the same day which is a bonus.

Decision Time

Once a decision has been made on your application you will be given a letter stating whether you were approved or not approved. The caseworker is meant to tell you the reasons why you are unsuccessful but I’ve read a couple of forums stating that you don’t receive too much information into the reasons why.  Fingers crossed that it is a positive answer!!!

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.

My Application Explained

Hope that helps with your application! Good luck!!!

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Loved your detailed explanation. Thanks. super useful.

  2. Hello Katherine,
    Do you know how to explain this meaning?
    Where Appendix FM-SE requires the applicant to provide specified evidence relating to
    a period which ends with the date of application, that evidence must be dated no earlier
    than 28 days before the date of application.
    So if I am going to apply on 3 of December and I need to get the letter from my employer when should it be dated, can you help please?

    1. Hi Valeria, if I have understood the requirement correctly then as long as the letter is dated between the 6th of November and the 3rd of December the letter will be in the period (as that’s 28 days).
      Cheers, Kat

  3. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Hello Kat,

    Did you have your NI number on the back of the BRP card? My Tier 2 one did but the ILR one I got recently doesn’t, so I was wondering if that was a mistake.

    Best Regards,


    1. Hi Arka, when I get a chance I will check ?. Kat

    2. Hi Arka, I checked and mine only has my date and birthplace, sex and nationality. Cheers Kat

  5. Hello! Clear and helpful. Thanks
    I have been in and out of the country and I’m struggling to reconcile my passport. You spoke of
    Google Docs spreadsheet
    to document your absences.
    Any chance you could email the template for me to see?
    I’d appreciate that.

  6. Hi Kath – can I please ask you regarding the ’45 business days’ you mention (ie. 9 weeks). My visa expires 13 February 2019, if you were me, what date would you submit my ILR application? The confusion for me lies in the 28 day rule, which means I can apply from 16th January. I will be paying for the premium service. To summarise, my key date us 13 February 2019…. but I am unsure when to send in my online application, which is complete and ready to go. Thanks, Mick

    1. Hi Michael,
      Basically fill out your form which can be drafted up to 70 days in advance. Once completed and you enter the 45 days in advance of your first eligible date so the 16th Jan you can choose one of three options for submission of the application, premium service and super premium. Once you choose premium service it’ll then go to an appointments page. By starting from your first eligible date it means you can keep trying each day until you get an appointment. Choose an appointment in the 28 days so from the 16th Jan to the 13th Feb. Pay the fees and then it’ll give you about 7 documents you’ll need for your appointment. After that it’s just waiting for the day 😊
      Hope that makes sense.

  7. Hi;

    Thanks for this very useful info. I am about to apply for an ILR but I am chasing my employer to cover this cost. Have you tried asking your employer to cover this cost. My employer has been sponsoring me for the last 5 years on tier 2 visa. So, if they not cover the cost, they may lose me. I wonder whether it is common for employers to pay the fee for ILR?

    1. Hi Jackie, no I didn’t ask my
      employer as I wanted to be here independently and I moved here on ancestry instead of tier 2. My view of asking is the worst that can happen is they say no so it’s really up too you. Cheers, Kat

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