On 6 April 2011, the UK Government changed the rules for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), otherwise known as permanent residence or settlement in the UK. The changes are part of an overall tightening of immigration laws in the UK.
The revised rules include more stringent requirements for ILR, including:
- A new threshold for assessing an applicant's past criminal record. An applicant must now be clear of "unspent convictions" when they apply for ILR.
- A new income requirement for skilled and highly skilled migrants. Tier 1 (General) migrants must now meet the same income criteria that existed when they last extended their Tier 1 visa. Applicants who are work permit holders or who have been in Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) must be being paid the "appropriate rate" as defined by the UK Border Agency.
- English language requirement changes. Applicants in Tier 1, Tier 2 and previous routes (such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP)) routes must now pass the Life in the UK test rather than an ESOL with citizenship course unless they fall under the transitional arrangement (see here for details).
- An "accelerated" route to settlement for Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants who meet enhanced criteria.
Indefinite Leave to Remain is one of the main requirements before you can become a naturalized British citizen. For most people in a skilled worker or business visa category, obtaining ILR requires living in the UK for at least five years.