Contrary to misconceptions, there is actually a legal way for a person to stay in the UK indefinitely. By this, we mean saying goodbye to 2-year, 3-year waiting periods, and actually having an unspecified time until you want to go back or you want to apply as an official resident. This is through a certain type of visa called Indefinite Leave to Remain or indefinite leave for expats.
Of course, the said permit is only applicable if you have a valid reason. There are also certain conditions to take note of. Since it can get a little complicated, we’ll discuss this topic more in the next sections.
Can You Stay in the UK Indefinitely?
For a short answer: Yes, you can stay in the UK indefinitely. If you process your visa with the right information and status, you will be able to legally stay in the UK for as long as you like (with occasional renewals, of course). Not only that, but you can also say goodbye to the many restrictions that a regular UK visa comes with. You should consider this option if you want to fully move to the UK in the future.
What Do You Need to Stay in the UK Indefinitely?
There is a way to stay in the UK indefinitely. To be specific, you need a permit for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is a status reserved mainly for immigrants who don’t want to have a time limit for their stay.
With the said status, you can freely work, study, and enjoy the benefits of National Healthcare Services (NHS) in the UK. Basically, this will feel like preparation for full immigration. This is also not tied to a specific purpose, so expect that you won’t run into legal issues even if you start your own business or continue your studies in the country.
This is often tied with Permanent Residence. However, even though some classify the two as the same concept, there are still minor differences between the two. Mainly, this is because the Indefinite Leave to Remain serves as a path to apply as a UK resident rather than being the same thing.
Qualifications to be Eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain
To be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must be in the following categories:
- You have worked in the UK for at least 2 years (Can be extended to 5 years depending on your visa)
- You have a family member living in the UK
- You have lived in the UK for 10 years or more (The purpose doesn’t matter)
- You have a UK Ancestry Visa, and you have lived in the country for 5 years
- You are a refugee
- You are a returning immigrant with a previous permit for Indefinite Leave to Remain
- You provided services to the Armed Forces
If you want to know more about whether you can apply for the said permit or not, then you should consider consulting immigration professional. Doing so will help you clear things out and prevent failed applications.
How to Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
It’s important to note that you first need to have an existing visa for the UK before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. If you’re eligible based on the said qualifications above, then here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Go to the UK’s immigration agency.
- Submit documents.
- Pay required fees for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- Wait for approval of the application.
Here is an overview of the requirements that you need to prepare beforehand:
- Valid Passport/Travel IDs
- Biometric Residence Permit (If applicable)
- Past existing passports throughout your stay in the UK
You can submit these physically through the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS). Alternatively, you can just visit their site and attach digital copies of the required documents.
How Much Does Indefinite Leave to Remain Costs?
Note that applying for an Indefinite Leave to Remain will not be cheap. You will need to invest your financial resources, so make sure to prepare for this before application.
For a guide, here are the fees that you need to pay:
- Initial Fee: £2,389
- Biometric Information: £19.20
- Priority Service (Optional): £800
For those who already have the said permit and you just aim to extend your stay, then you will need to pay £1,033 instead of the usual £2,389.
In regular circumstances, the application will be updated within 6 months. If you opt for the Priority Service, then you should expect it within 1 to 2 days from application.
The bottom line is if you want to stay indefinitely in the UK, either for work, travel, or plain preparation for migration, the best way to do so is through a permit for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Under the right conditions, your application for this will be approved, and you can stay for two years max doing any (legal) thing you want in the UK. After two years, you need to renew the visa to enjoy continuous benefits.
Note that the said papers are expensive, so it’s best to avail of professional assistance to make sure that you won’t be wasting money in the long run.