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What Does It Mean To Hold Indefinite Leave In The UK?

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) or Indefinite Leave to Enter (“ILE”), also referred to as settlement or permanent residence, are types of immigration status in the UK which mean there is no longer a time limit on a person’s ability to stay in the UK.

Some examples of the benefits of holding ILR or ILE include:

  • being free to work in the UK in a business, employment (including self-employment) or profession;
  • being free to study in the UK;
  • generally being able to access healthcare under the National Health Service (although there may be some exceptions).


If you hold ILR or ILE, your Biometric Residence Permit (“BRP”) will state either ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘indefinite leave to enter’ or ‘no time limit’. It may also state ‘settlement’. It is important to note that your BRP will be valid for up to 10 years and you will need to apply for a replacement. Home Office guidance suggests this is done no later than 3 months before the expiry of the BRP to ensure your replacement document is obtained before the current BRP expires. When travelling outside the UK, you should always take your BRP card with you in order to re-enter at the border.

There are various routes to obtaining ILR, the most common being an application after having been resident in the UK for 5 years. However, this is not the only requirement and migrants must be mindful of their absences from the UK over the 5 year period should they wish to obtain ILR. There are strict rules regarding the time they need to spend in the UK before being eligible to apply. It is also vital to consider your absences from the UK should you intend to later apply for British nationality, because the rules governing absences for nationality applications are different and are more restrictive. Usually, a migrant must have been living in the UK for at least 12 months after obtaining indefinite leave before they can apply for citizenship. Migrants married to British citizens may be able to apply for citizenship immediately after obtaining ILR.

There are also other routes where ILR may be obtained in less than 5 years. Please contact us if you are hoping to make an application for ILR and/or citizenship and are concerned about your absences from the UK or want to know when you may be eligible to apply.

If you believe you hold ILR but do not have a document to evidence your leave, you may be able to make an application to obtain a BRP in order to evidence your status in the UK. These applications are known as ‘No Time Limit’ (NTL) applications.

Further, if your BRP card is lost or stolen you must report this to the police and the Home Office as soon as possible in order for the card to be cancelled. You can then make an application for a replacement BRP.

Unlike citizenship, ILR can be lost if you cease to reside in the UK (this will be dealt with in a later blog). However, the common ways in which ILR can be lost are ceasing to reside in the UK or if you remain outside the UK for a continuous period of 2 years or more (or 5 years for those who were granted settled status under the EU settlement scheme).

Gherson has extensive experience in making replacement BRP applications and providing advice generally on all aspects of settlement in the UK. Should you wish to discuss any type of application or if you require advice in relation to your status in the UK, please do not hesitate to contact us


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2019

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