Settling in the UK

People from outside the UK can settle after they have been living in the UK for a number of years. Settling means being able to stay in the UK without any time restrictions. The length of time needed to be eligible for settlement, and the requirements when applying, depend on nationality and visa route.


European nationals

EU/EEA & Swiss nationals and their family members (whether European or non-European) who have lived in the UK for five years can apply for ‘Settled status’ through the EU Settlement Scheme. Information provided by SIT for European staff, and Home Office guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme, can be found at the following links:


Non-European nationals

Non-Europeans wishing to settle in the UK apply for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR). There are several different application routes for ILR depending on the type of UK visa the applicant holds. SIT mainly advises those within the collegiate University who hold Tier 2 or Tier 1 Exceptional Talent/ Promise visas, but can also help those with other types of visas.

This page provides information about applying for ILR and the following page provides details the ILR requirements with links to Home Office guidance. Anyone within the collegiate University who is considering applying for ILR, however, can contact SIT directly for more information and support.

Benefits of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Once a visa holder is granted ILR they:

  • will no longer be restricted in the type of employment they can undertake;
  • will no longer need to register with the police (if they had to under their visa);
  • will be able to work outside the UK for up to 2 years without losing ILR;
  • may be eligible to apply for British citizenship after 12 months (or as soon as they are granted ILR if married to, or the civil partner of a, UK national).

Visa routes eligible for ILR

The table below lists visa routes which lead to ILR and the length of the qualifying period in each case. As this is based on the visa routes most often seen within the collegiate University it is not an exhaustive list.

The Home Office ‘Find out whether you can apply to settle in the UK’ guide, found at, can help those who are unsure whether they are eligible to apply.

Visa routeEligible for ILR?Qualifying period
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Yes 3 years – which can include time spent under Tier 2
Tier 1 Exceptional Promise Yes 5 years – which can include time spent under Tier 2
Tier 2 (General) Yes 5 years – which can include time spent under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent or Promise
PBS Dependant - partner Yes 5 years – living in the UK with the main applicant
PBS Dependant - child Yes No set length of qualifying period but can only be granted ILR if applying when both parents have, or are applying for, ILR
UK Ancestry Yes 5 years


(of a UK national or settled person)

Yes 5 years – as a Spouse/ Partner visa is issued for 2 ½ years the extension application for a second 2 ½ year period must be timed close to the end of the first visa to ensure another extension is not required to reach 5 years

Tier 4 (General) student,

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW)

Tier 1 (General)

Tier 5

Only under 'Long residence' ILR route

Time spent under these and other routes does not lead to eligibility under the standard 5 year ILR route but can count towards ‘Long residence’ ILR based on 10 years under a series of different visas including those above.

Switching visa route re-starts the ILR ‘clock’

With the exception of Tier 2 and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, it is not possible to combine time spent under different visas when applying under the standard 5 year ILR route. As a result, any switch from one visa route to another (such as Tier 2 to PBS Dependant, or vice versa) restarts the 5 year ‘clock’ to ILR.

Summary of main costs

The following table provides a summary of the main costs for an ILR application. The same costs are payable for the main applicant and each dependent (main applicant's partner/ spouse and/ or dependent child). These Home Office fees tend to increase each year in April.

Preparing an ILR application (for applicants over 18 years old)  
Approved English language test at an approved centre (if required) – additional or higher fees may apply    £150
UK NARIC certification of qualification taken outside the UK (if required) – additional or higher fees apply for priority services    £150
Life in the UK test      £50
Submitting ILR application online  
Standard (5yr) or ‘Long-residence’ (10yr) ILR application £2,389
Additional fee for the Super Priority Service (for a decision in 1-2 days instead of six months*)    £800
Biometric enrolment      £19.20
Additional services when booking UK VCAS appointment  
Scanning of documents (only payable at ‘Core’ centres – such as Birmingham, Croydon or Cardiff)      £30
Attending Enhanced Service Centre (such as Reading or Warwick)      £60
Out of hours appointment (early/ late or Saturday)    £100

* Travel plans: The applicant will not be able to travel while their application is being processed, even though they will retain their documents.

Visa Loan Scheme

The reimbursement of visa costs & visa loan scheme webpage, provides details on the support the University can offer to applicants on the fees. The Visa Loan Scheme is not, unfortunately, available to those with ‘college only’ appointments.

Timing of ILR applications

When to submit an ILR application

ILR applications must be submitted online:

  • Before the applicant’s current visa expires. The appointment to submit biometrics, however, does not have to be before the expiry date of the current visa.
  • No more than 28 calendar days before the end of the relevant 3, 5 or 10 year qualifying period. If an application is submitted earlier than ‘28 days before’ it will automatically be refused.

A standard (5yr) and ‘Long residence’ (10yr) ILR applications can take up to six months to process, and a further 1-2 weeks to receive the new BRP after a decision is made.

An application submitted through the Super Priority route should result in a decision within 1-2 days but it will still take a further 1-2 weeks to then receive the new BRP.

No travel while an application is pending

Even though the applicant will retain their documents they must not travel while their application is being processed. Any travel outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) automatically results in the application being withdrawn by the Home Office.

Working while an application is pending

As long as an ILR application has been submitted before the current visa expires, the visa holder can continue to work under the conditions of their existing visa while the application is being processed.

If the application has not been decided at the point the current visa expires the department/ college will need the application reference number to request verification of the applicant’s continuing right to work from the Home Office Employers Checking Service.

When ILR is granted the new BRP must be presented to the department/ college so that they can carry out a new right to work check and update their records. If the applicant was a Tier 2 visa holder, the department/ college will also need to send copies of the new BRP and a Changes & Leavers form to SIT. The Changes & Leavers form is found on SIT’s ‘Forms & guidance notes' page at:

Application process

  • Find the correct guidance and application link based on the current visa using the Home Office ‘Find out whether you can apply to settle in the UK’ guide, found at
  • Draft online ILR application. Applicants can save and later return to a draft application through a link emailed to them by the Home Office.
  • Submit ILR online application paying ILR, biometrics, and optional Super Priority, fees.
  • When transferred to ‘Sopra Steria’ website book UK VCAS appointment to submit biometric information.
  • Applicants have the option to upload scanned copies of supporting documents or have these scanned at their UK VCAS appointment.

When an ILR application is submitted online, the applicant is transferred to the Sopra Steria website to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UK VCAS) centre. Sopra Steria is the private company which runs the UK VCAS centres on behalf of the Home Office.

The main applicant and any dependants applying at the same time must submit their biometric information (fingerprints and facial image) at the UK VCAS appointment. Fingerprints are not taken for children under 5 years old.

  • There are seven ‘Core’ UK VCAS centres, which do not charge additional fees, the closest of which to Oxford are Birmingham, Croydon, and Cardiff.
  • There are around sixty ‘Enhanced Service Centres’ which charge additional fees, the closest of which to Oxford are Reading and Warwick.

Support provided by SIT

Applying for ILR is expensive and can be complex. For this reason SIT provides support and advice on the requirements, application forms and process. Visa holders within the collegiate University can contact SIT at any point if they have queries or want to discuss applying for ILR. Where there is a choice between different types of application, SIT can discuss the requirements but cannot recommend one over another.

Standard 5 year ILR

As SIT holds details for Tier 2 visa holders sponsored by the University, they check for those within six months of their visa expiring who may be ready to apply for ILR.

SIT is happy to assist applicants through the process of applying for ILR. They cannot, however, check ILR applications, supporting documents, or absence histories before submission.

If an applicant has complicated issues or queries, SIT can seek clarification from their immigration solicitor or the Home Office.

If, however, an applicant has very complicated issues or queries, or wishes to have their application, supporting documents and/or absence history checked before submission, they may want to seek their own advice from an immigration solicitor.

‘Long residence’ 10 year ILR

SIT has some experience of ‘Long residence’ ILR applications and can assist with queries on the requirements, application form and processes. SIT is not, however, in a position to provide as much support as they do for applications under the standard 5 year ILR route.

British citizenship

SIT can assist with queries on the requirements, application forms and processes for Naturalisation, and Registration (of children under 18), as a British citizen but are not in a position to provide as much support as they do for ILR applications.

The Staff Immigration Team (SIT) has made every effort to ensure the information provided on these pages is correct when published, but it is provided as an introduction only and does not constitute complete comprehensive guidance. Applicants should always check the requirements and can discuss any queries with SIT before applying.