If you would like to find out how to apply for ILR please go to the application guidance to find out if you are eligible.
If you have indefinite leave to remain or enter (ILR or ILE)
If you have ILR or ILE there is no longer any time limit on your ability to stay in the UK.
If you have ILR or ILE and your home is in the UK you are regarded as settled in the UK.
If you do not have a document to prove your ILR or ILE
If you believe that you have ILR or ILE but do not have a document to prove it, you can make a no time limit (NTL) application for confirmation of your status in the form of a biometric residence permit (BRP).
You can apply for NTL if:
- your passport containing your status or previous NTL endorsement has been lost, stolen or has expired
- you have ILR or ILE but you do not have any documentary evidence confirming this
- you have legitimately changed your identity since being granted indefinite leave and want this confirmed on a BRP
You can apply for NTL using the BRP replacement service. More information is available in the NTL guidance.
If you were settled in the UK on 1 January 1973, or arrived in the UK before 1988, you should check if you are eligible to apply for evidence of your status under the Windrush scheme.
If you have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme
If you have ILR (settled status) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will not need to apply for a document confirming your status. The Home Office will have emailed you a link to an online service that you can use to view and prove your status.
EU Settlement Scheme guidance provides further information on what you’ll be able to do.
For more information, including where you might be given a physical document to prove your status, visit the ‘after you’ve applied’ chapter of the EU Settlement Scheme guidance.
Your biometric residence permit (BRP)
If you are settled in the UK your BRP will say either:
- ‘Indefinite leave to remain’
- ‘Indefinite leave to enter’
- ‘No time limit’
Your BRP will last up to 10 years and will have an expiry date. We advise that you apply for a replacement around 3 months before expiry. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.
You must tell the Home Office if you want to change the personal details on your BRP, such as your name or gender, or if your facial appearance changes significantly. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.
If your BRP is lost or stolen in the UK you must report the loss or theft to the police as soon as possible and get a police report and crime reference number. You must also report this to the Home Office by using the service on GOV.UK. The BRP will be cancelled.
If your BRP is lost or stolen abroad, you must apply for a short-term single-entry visa to come back to the UK and then report it to the Home Office. You will then need to apply for a replacement BRP. Use the BRP replacement service to do this.
Working in the UK
You are free to work in the UK in any business, profession or employment, including self-employment. You must comply with the law and any statutory regulations for that business, profession or employment.
If you are thinking of going to live or work on the Isle of Man or Channel Islands, you should consult the immigration authorities of those islands first.
Studying in the UK
You are free to study in the UK.
Voting in the UK
Types of election, referendums, and who can vote provides information about whether you can vote in the UK.
Access to healthcare
The NHS entitlements: migrant health guide provides information about when and how you can access healthcare in the UK.
Generally, healthcare is available free to a person who is settled in the UK.
Access to benefits and services
To find out about individual benefits and who is entitled to access them visit the GOV.UK benefits section.
The new State Pension guide provides information on State Pensions for people who have lived and worked abroad.
You usually need 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions to be eligible for the new UK State Pension.
Children born in the UK while you are settled
If you have a child in the UK while you are settled here they will normally be a British citizen automatically at birth. If you have a child who was born in the UK after 1 January 1983 and who is not a British citizen, they may be entitled to be registered as a British citizen once you are settled in the UK. You can check if you can become a British citizen.
Family members who want to live with you in the UK
Family members who are not British citizens may be able to join you in the UK. Information on this is available in the section on family in the UK.
If you have status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can find more information about family members joining you in the UK in the guidance EU Settlement Scheme family permits.
Travelling outside the UK
You should take your BRP with you if you travel outside the UK otherwise you may be refused re-entry to the UK.
If you stay outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), for 2 or more years at a time your ILE or ILR will automatically end.
If you have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, your leave will automatically end if you stay outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) for 5 or more years. If you’re a Swiss citizen with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you and your family members can spend up to 4 years in a row outside the UK, Ireland or the Crown Dependencies before your leave automatically ends. Your family members do not have to be Swiss citizens.
If this happens you will need to apply for entry clearance as a returning resident before coming back to live in the UK. Further information is available in the guidance on returning residents visas.
Can my indefinite leave to enter or remain be taken away?
If you are deported from the UK your indefinite leave will be invalidated.
Indefinite leave can also be taken away (revoked) if you:
- are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons, such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
- obtained leave by deception
- were granted leave as a refugee and cease to be a refugee
Your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for 2 or more years (5 or more, if granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) at a time. If you’re a Swiss citizen with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme your indefinite leave will lapse if you stay outside the UK for 4 years or more in a row.
Becoming a British citizen
To apply for citizenship, you must usually have been living in the UK for at least 12 months after being granted indefinite leave. There are also other requirements. Visit Check if you can become a British citizenship for more information on eligibility and how to apply.
Published 24 June 2019
Last updated 4 November 2021 +show all updates
Sections "travelling outside the UK" and "can my indefinite leave to enter or remain be taken away" updated to reflect Swiss citizens and their family members with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The title of this guidance has been changed to "Indefinite leave to remain in the UK: your rights and status".
Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It's also called 'settlement'. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you're eligible.How long can I stay out of UK if I have Indefinite Leave to Remain? ›
You lose your indefinite leave to remain if you've been outside the UK for 2 or more continuous years. You may be able to re-enter the UK and get indefinite leave to remain by applying for a Returning Resident visa.What are the rules for Indefinite Leave to Remain? ›
Usually, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period to be eligible for ILR status. However, there are exceptions to this rule, for example, if you have been outside of the UK on business, or your time outside of the UK was due to exceptional circumstances.What is the difference between right to remain and Indefinite Leave to Remain? ›
Leave to remain means you have permission to stay in the UK for a specific period of time and your activities are limited to the restrictions of your visa. Indefinite leave to remain is where you have permanent lawful status in the UK as a settled person, and you are no longer subject to immigration control.Can I live in the UK as a US citizen? ›
As an American citizen, moving from the US to the UK to travel, study, and live is permitted for up to six months at a time. However, you cannot work during this period. If you want to hold down a job, you'll have to have a suitable visa. There are UK work visas for just about every possible profession.How long can a US citizen stay in the UK? ›
You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities. You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.Why does indefinite leave to remain expire? ›
The UK immigration rules state that Indefinite Leave to Remain can expire if an individual has had a consecutive absence from the UK of 2 years or more. This means that if you have resided outside the UK for more than two years, you will automatically no longer be considered as a person who is settled in the UK.What are the conditions for indefinite leave to remain in the UK? ›
The ILR Requirements are as follows:
A pass in the Life in the UK test. Ability to prove a B1 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (unless exempt) The applicant must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during their UK residency.
Indefinite leave to remain applications
After you have been in the UK legally for ten continuous years, you will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, which is sometimes called settlement. Indefinite leave to remain means that you will be legally resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions.
As well as allowing you to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration control, Indefinite Leave to Remain also comes with many other benefits, such as allowing you to access public funds and free healthcare, acting as a route to British citizenship and giving you the opportunity to bring family ...
If you get British citizenship, you can leave the UK for as long as you want without losing your right to return.Is indefinite leave to remain the same as green card? ›
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is the term for British settlement or permanent residency. ILR status allows you to live and work in the UK without restrictions on the length of stay. It is the equivalent of the United States permanent residency/ green card.Can an American move to England permanently? ›
You may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you are an American citizen living in the United Kingdom and wish to make Britain your permanent home. This means that US residents with Indefinite Leave to Remain can live, study, and work in the United Kingdom without restrictions or time limits.Can an American become a citizen in England? ›
In most cases, US citizens who wish to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation must have held a visa that qualifies for ILR after living in the UK for the required continuous period (typically 5 years). Having acquired ILR, applicants must wait 12 months before they can apply for British citizenship.Can an American retire to England? ›
The U.K. recently closed its retirement visa program, meaning retirees don't have a straightforward way to get into the country. Fortunately, the U.K.'s other visa avenues are still open. So, retired couples can apply for work, ancestry or family visas.How long can a UK permanent resident stay outside of UK? ›
You are allowed to spend time outside of the UK so long as these periods of absence do not exceed 6 months at any one time. It does not matter how much time you spend outside of the UK in total during the required 5-year continuous residence period provided you return each time after a maximum of 6 months.Can I stay in the UK for 6 months leave and come back? ›
It is possible to stay in the UK for up to 6 months under a long-term visitor visa, and then depart and return shortly after, provided the visa is not being used to live in the UK for extended periods.How long can a British citizen live in another country without coming back to the UK? ›
If you get British citizenship, you can leave the UK for as long as you want without losing your right to return.Can I return to live in UK after living abroad? ›
If you come back to the UK after living abroad, you'll usually be classed a UK resident again. This means you pay UK tax on: your UK income and gains. any foreign income and gains - although you may not have to if your permanent home ('domicile') remains outside the UK.