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Indefinite Leave to Remain Requirements for South Africans

Get in touch with IAS’ UK immigration lawyers to find out more about your options to get Indefinite Leave to Remain and settle in the UK.

Call us on 0333 305 3612 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

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    ILR Requirements for South Africans

    Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settlement status available for non-British citizens who have spent a certain number of years as UK lawful residents.

    By getting this status, you will be able to live, work and study in the UK free from any immigration restrictions. However, you must first meet specific requirements and prepare an extensive portfolio of documents to demonstrate your eligibility.

    At IAS, our immigration lawyers have extensive knowledge of the ILR for South Africans application process. One of our advisers will be happy to help you through each step of your application, to ensure that your case is successful.

    Call us today to find out more.

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    ILR eligibility for South African citizens

    You will not automatically qualify for ILR on completion of 5 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK.

    When submitting your application form, the UKVI will consider your case against several eligibility criteria, such as:

    • No criminal convictions or breach of UK immigration law
    • Absences from the UK not exceeding 180 days within any 12 months of your qualifying period
    • Evidence of your English proficiency to the required standard
    • Evidence you have passed the Life in the UK Test

    Qualifying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

    Before you apply for ILR for South African citizens, you must have spent a certain number of years in the UK on a visa category which specifically leads to settlement. This includes:

    Immigration Category Qualifying ILR period
    Spouse or Civil Partner Visa 2 years
    Unmarried Partner 5 years
    UK Ancestry Visa 5 years
    EEA Family Permit 5 years
    Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa 3 or 5 years depending on your business activity
    Tier 1 Investor Visa 2, 3 or 5 years depending on the level of investment
    Tier 2 Visa 5 years

    How to calculate your continuous period in the UK

    The ILR continuous period requirement is the minimum amount of time that you must have spent in the UK, being active in the economy of the country (i.e., being in employment). Any day of absence will be calculated, for a maximum of 180 days within any 12-month time frame.

    It must be noted that only the time spent lawfully in the UK counts towards your ILR eligibility. Besides, time spent in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands will not count.

    As a general rule, your qualifying period is counted backwards from one of the following:

    • The date of your application
    • The date your ILR status was issued
    • Any date which is up to 28 days after your application.

    ILR for South Africans required documents

    It is important to prepare an extensive portfolio of documents when applying for ILR. You will need to provide the Home Office with all the necessary paperwork to demonstrate your eligibility and support your application.

    All ILR documents must be in their original form and, when not written in English, they must be accompanied by a certified translation.

    The following are some of the documents that you need to include in your ILR application bundle:

    • Your passport or any other valid travel document
    • Pass certificates of both the English language exam (if not exempt) and the Life in the UK Test
    • Any documents detailing the time you spent outside the UK during your qualifying period.
    • Your complete immigration history
    • Relevant financial information (i.e., your bank statements).

    Indefinite Leave to Remain for South Africans application fees

    As of February 2023, it costs £2,404 to apply for ILR from South Africa. Besides, you will need to pay an additional charge of £50 for any dependant included in your application.

    However, there are extra costs linked to your application. For example, you must take into account the Life in the UK test fee (£50), the English language test cost, and the charges for professional translation of any of your documents which are not written in English.

    Call us today and book your first advice session with one of our lawyers, to receive a detailed breakdown of the costs of your application.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain application process

    Once you have submitted your ILR application from South Africa, the Home Office will take up to six months to provide you with a response.

    If your application is successful, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) for South Africans before your enter the UK., and withing seven days after the decision on your case has been made.

    If you are seeking a quicked decision, or if your application is time-sensitive, you can either apply for one of the following:

    • The Home Office Priority Service, which will guarantee your response within five working days for an additional cost of £500.
    • The Home Office Super Priority Service, which will get your decision within one working days (additional charge: £800).

    None of these special services will affect the Home Office ultimate decision on your case.

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to settle in the UK on ILR. Contact us

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                Yes, you will be required to provide reasons and evidence for all your absences from the UK.

                However, the following are not considered as breaching your qualifying period, and they will not affect your status:

                • The period between the issue of your ILR and the date you entered the UK
                • Part-day absences, as only whole days out of the UK, are counted.

                The Life in the UK is a 45-minute exam consisting of 24 multiple-choice questions. These are based on British culture, history and customs. There are over 30 centres in the UK where you can sit the test, although you can only go to one of the five centres nearest to you.

                The test is a mandatory requirement to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain for South Africans. The exam costs £50 and, if you fail, you can retake it seven days after the previous date.

                The best way to prepare for this examination is to study the official Home Office handbook.

                To seek professional advice on how to successfully pass your test, you can get in touch with our UK immigration solicitors.

                You will need to demonstrate that you can speak and understand English to qualify for ILR. You can meet this requirement by sitting an English language test, which must be approved.

                You may be exempt from this requirement if you are a citizen of an English-speaking country, or if you hold a degree which was taught or researched in English.

                To apply for ILR for South African citizens, you must fill in one of the following forms:

                • SET (M) Form, if you are applying as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a British citizen or settled person.
                • SET (O) Form, for the majority of ILR applications.

                Get in touch with our UK immigration specialists in South Africa to receive advice on which form is more relevant for your case.

                At IAS, our UK immigration lawyers have already helped many South African citizens enter the UK and live in this country. If you are seeking professional advice while making an ILR application, our team will be happy to help you.

                To talk to our customer care team and book your first advice session with one of our professional immigration lawyers, you can call us on xx or use our contact form or live chat. We will get in touch with you as soon as possible to discuss your case in details.

                You can also directly book our application package to hire your dedicated UK immigration solicitors, which will guide you through each step of your Indefinite Leave to Remain application for South African citizens.