An individual who is granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can legally settle in the UK without any time restrictions on their stay.
Individuals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) who are under a Tier 2 (General) visa, must meet the eligibility criteria in order to obtain ILR.
Individuals granted a Tier 2 visa on or after 6 April 2011
A person who was granted a Tier 2 (General) visa on or after 6 April 2011, is limited to a maximum stay in the UK of six years (inclusive of any visa extensions). After this time, they will need to either apply and qualify for settlement or leave the UK, the full criteria states that the individual must:
- be paid an annual salary of at least £35,000 (please note further income threshold increases from April 2018, as detailed below)
- hold a Tier 2 (General) visa
- not have unspent convictions
- have been living and working in the UK for five years and spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period (continuous residence)
- still be in their position of employment and required by their employer (sponsor).
A person working in a job role which has appeared on the shortage occupation list at any time while they were being sponsored to do that job will be exempt from the annual salary threshold. They will still need to meet all the other settlement criteria. We have provide the archived shortage occupation lists to assist employers in identifying current staff who might be exempt from the salary threshold.
Individuals granted a Tier 2 visa before 6 April 2011
A person who entered the UK before 6 April 2011, will not be subject to the six-year residency limit and can continue to apply for extensions to their visa indefinitely. Individuals in this situation will only be able to apply for settlement in the UK if they:
- meet the income threshold for ILR (details below), or
- have been in the UK legally for ten continuous years (known as long residence).
The £35,000 income threshold took effect from 6 April 2016. A Tier 2 (General) visa can extend up to six years, and although individuals may choose to apply for ILR after five years, individuals who entered the UK on or after 6 April 2011 (for whom these new rules apply) will not be compelled to apply for ILR until April 2017 at the earliest. The full details of planned income thresholds state the individual must be paid an annual salary of at least:
- £35,000 if applying on or after 6 April 2016
- £35,500 if applying on or after 6 April 2018
- £35,800 if applying on or after 6 April 2019
- £36,200 if applying on or after 6 April 2020.
The salary thresholds are based on guaranteed pay. Employers should consider the implications of the ILR rules and salary thresholds as part of their workforce planning. You may have existing staff who will be required to leave the UK after 6 years if they do not meet the salary threshold.
Please see our Tier 2 (General) section for further details on this route of the immigration system.