The UK Border Agency laid a statement of changes before Parliament on 16 March 2011 outlining, among other details, changes to the ways in which people will qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The UK Border Agency will introduce these changes on 6th April 2011.

Changes affecting all applicants

Anyone applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain from 6th April 2011 onwards should be free of all unspent convictions at the time of application.

The period of time for a conviction to become spent varies, and certain convictions will never become spent. Further information on this can be found here.

Individuals with unspent convictions may wish to make an ILR application before the changes in April that will make unspent convictions a reason for automatic refusal. Under current rules, convictions present a risk to an application, but do not automatically mean it would be unsuccessful.

Changes affecting certain visa holders only:

Tier 1 (General) visa holders

Applications for ILR from Tier 1 (General) visa holders will now become points based. Points will be awarded in largely the same way as at the time of the last visa application. Applicants will need to score either 75 or 80 points depending on the date of their first Tier 1 (General) application.

To qualify for ILR after 6th April 2011, Tier 1 (General) visa holders should have:

  • Completed a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK;
  • Spent no more than 180 days outside the UK over the full 5 year period, of which no trip should exceed 90 days.
  • No unspent convictions;
  • Passed the Life in the UK Test;
  • Scored the same number of points in ILR attributes as in their last Tier 1 (General) visa application.

HSMP ILR Judicial review

The HSMP ILR Judicial review policy will remain in place. Individuals whose first HSMP application was submitted before 3 April 2006 will still qualify for ILR after 4 years in the UK, and will not need to pass the Life in the UK Test. Individuals whose first HSMP application was submitted between 3 April 2006 and 7 November 2006 will qualify for ILR after 5 years in the UK, and will not need to pass the Life in the UK Test. The assessment for ILR will not be points based.

To qualify for ILR after 6th April 2011, those covered by the HSMP ILR Judicial review should have:

  • Completed a continuous period of 4 or 5 years lawfully in the UK;
  • Spent no more than 180 days outside the UK over the full 4 or 5 year period, of which no trip should exceed 90 days;
  • Been economically active in the UK throughout the period.

Tier 2 (ICT) visa holders

In order for a Tier 2 (ICT) visa holder to qualify for ILR their first Tier 2 (ICT) visa should have been granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010.

Individuals whose first Tier 2 (ICT) visa was granted after 6 April 2010 cannot qualify for ILR after 5 years.

Tier 2 migrants will now also need to meet income criteria. This means they should be paid at least the salary stated in the appropriate Codes of Practice. This must be confirmed in a letter from the employer supporting the ILR application.

To qualify for ILR after 6th April 2011, Tier 2 (ICT) visa holders should have:

  • Completed a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK;
  • Spent no more than 180 days outside the UK over the full 5 year period, of which no trip should exceed 90 days;
  • No unspent convictions;
  • Been granted one Tier 2 ICT under the rules before 6 April 2010;
  • A letter from their sponsor stating that the migrant is still needed and is paid at the relevant rate as shown on the codes of practice;
  • Passed the Life in the UK Test.

Tier 2 (General) / (Minister of Religion) / (Sportsperson) / Work Permit visa holders

Tier 2 / Work Permit visa holders will now need to meet income criteria. This means they should be paid at least the salary stated in the appropriate Codes of Practice. This must be confirmed in a letter from the employer supporting the ILR application.

Tier 2 (General) / (Minister of Religion) / (Sportsperson) / Work Permit visa holders should have:

  • Completed a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK;
  • Spent no more than 180 days outside the UK over the full 5 year period, of which no trip should exceed 90 days;
  • No unspent convictions;
  • A letter from their sponsor stating that the migrant is still needed and is paid at the relevant rate as shown on the codes of practice;
  • Passed the Life in the UK Test.

N.B. The salaries shown in the Codes of Practice may have increased steeply since the original Tier 2 visa application was made. This means that the individual may need to be awarded a significant pay rise to meet the new salary requirements to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.