VISA4UK Settled status in the UK

Settled status in the UK - ILR

Get indefinite leave to remain

ILR - indefinite leave to remain - settled status in the UK

Apply to settle in the UK

Find out if you can apply for settlement (also called ‘indefinite leave to remain’) in the UK.

The Benefits of Gaining Settlement Status in the UK:

  • It is important to note that should an individual with "ILR"(‘indefinite leave to remain’) remain absent from the UK for 2 consecutive years, the ILR status is likely to lapse.
  • You will enjoy unrestricted entry to the UK, that is freedom from immigration control
  • You may be eligible to apply for naturalization (British citizenship) within a further qualifying period, giving you the full benefits of a British Citizen
  • You will be free to work within the UK without restriction

Settling means you can stay in the UK without any time restrictions.

If you’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection, read the guide to settlement for you and your dependants.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

Apply for a Returning Resident visa

You need a Returning Resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled (given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and you have either:

  • lost your documentation
  • been away for more than 2 years
You don’t need a visa if you have your original documentation confirming your settled status and you’ve been away for less than 2 years.

You may still need to apply for a visa if you’ve been asked to confirm you can travel to the UK, for example by the airline you’re travelling with.


You must:

  • plan to return to live in the UK permanently
  • have been settled in the UK before you last left
  • not have been given public funds to help you leave the UK
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

If you’ve been away for more than 2 years

You won’t get a Returning Resident visa unless you’re also able to show what exceptional personal circumstances have led to you being out of the country for this long.

You must provide enough evidence to show:

  • your strong family ties to the UK
  • you lived in the UK most of your life
  • your current circumstances and why you’ve lived outside the UK

You won’t lose your indefinite leave to remain after 2 years outside the UK if your spouse or partner is a member of the UK armed forces and you’ve joined them on an overseas posting.

You also won’t lose it if your spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and one of the following:

  • a permanent member of the Diplomatic Service
  • a UK-based British Council employee who works outside the UK
  • a Department for International Development (DFID) employee
  • a Home Office employee

Family members (‘dependants’)

Your dependants (partner and children under 18) need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa if they’re eligible.


It costs £478 to apply.

How long it takes

Check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in your country.

How long you can stay

You can return to live permanently in the UK.


You’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • previous passports
  • a passport-sized colour photograph
  • documents that prove you have ties to the UK, for example proof you’ve earned income, or rented or owned property, in the UK
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Read the guide for a full list of documents you need to provide.


You must apply online for a Returning Resident visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

North Korea

You can’t apply online from North Korea.

To apply from North Korea you must:

Settled status and pre-settled status in the UK

Life in the UK test 2021 - free online practise