The qualifying period for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for spouse visa holders is two years. Applications can be made up to 28 days before the two year period in the UK is completed.

The two year qualifying period can be completed entirely on a spouse visa, or can include time previously spent on a PBS dependant visa.

The provision for time spent on a PBS dependant visa to contribute to the qualifying period is outlined in the Immigration Rules. However, this section has been mis-drafted, and currently contains a significant error. We have brought this mistake to the UK Border Agency’s attention and they are now in the process of correcting the wording.

The UK Border Agency Policy Team has categorically confirmed that the two year qualifying period for spouse visa holders can include time spent on a PBS dependant visa, despite the outstanding mistake in the Rules.

We have been assured that all caseworkers will be informed of the correct interpretation of the Immigration Rules, as outlined above, and that applications will be decided accordingly while the Rules are being amended.

Who does this apply to?

PBS dependant partners need to have spent two years in the UK with the main applicant in order to be included on their ILR application. If the dependant partner has not been in the UK for two years when the main applicant applies for ILR, they cannot be included on the application. When the main applicant is granted ILR, the dependant partner would need to apply for a spouse visa.

If you have switched from a PBS dependant visa to a spouse visa, and in total have completed two years in the UK, you may be able to apply for ILR now. To clarify, you do not need to have spent two years on the spouse visa itself, as long as your time in the UK with the previous PBS dependant visa and the current spouse visa totals two years.

What should I do?

If you currently have a spouse visa, and have almost completed two years in the UK with either the spouse visa alone, or in combination with time spent on a PBS dependant visa, you may be eligible to apply for ILR now.

We would be happy to carry out a free initial assessment of your case, to offer you personalised advice. Please contact us for up to date information and guidance.