Lady Gets Leave to Remain

I have some exciting news: I have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK! After five years of living and working in Britain, I am officially a permanent resident. Take that, Blighty, you’re stuck with me!

British flags at the London Olympics

I frequently get asked how I came to live and work in the UK, and how I’m allowed to stay here. I thought I would take this exciting occasion to detail my not-so-exciting immigration history.

When I first moved to London, I came on the now-extinct Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), a points-based visa system that allowed foreigners like myself to live and work in the UK for two years without being tied to a particular job or employer.

Two years later, I extended my stay in the UK for another three years by renewing my HSMP visa, which by then was called a Tier 1 visa (for those wondering, they sadly scrapped the Tier 1 program last year, so the only way for Americans to move to the UK to work now is to get sponsored by a company).

British flags and the Queen

Last year at this time I wrote about my four year anniversary in London and my hopes (and fears) about getting ILR, as Indefinite Leave to Remain is known by expats across the UK.

After that, I spent a year in anticipation of more changes in the UK’s immigration laws, hoping that by the time I was eligible, ILR hadn’t gone the way of the Tier 1.

In the meantime, I had to do thrilling things like fill out mountains of paperwork, pull together bank statements from the past 12 months, and have my accountant draw up letters for me.

I also had to take the bizarre Life in the UK Test, which had questions ranging from “On what date is Valentine’s Day celebrated?” (clearly this knowledge is pivotal to a solid understanding of UK culture) to “How many members are there in the Welsh Assembly?” (is there a Welsh Assembly?).

Journals

Thankfully, I passed the test and the rules didn’t change. And now, next year, I am eligible for full UK citizenship. While the goalposts could move in the meantime, I’m breathing much easier knowing that regardless of what happens, my Indefinite Leave to Remain grants me the right to live and work in Britain for as long as I want to.

So here’s to another five years…and another…and another…!

32 Comments on Lady Gets Leave to Remain

  1. Natalie
    October 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm (1 year ago)

    Congrats! I was not so lucky to make the switch from Tier 2 to Tier 1 before they scrapped it. Glad to know your UK (and international) adventures will continue. Big fan of your blog :)

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks Natalie. That’s too bad you weren’t able to make the switch in time, but I hope you can still get ILR when you reach your 5-year mark.

      Reply
  2. Lindsay
    October 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm (1 year ago)

    Congrats! My boyfriend is about to submit his application for permanent residency in Canada…it’s so much work! And it’ll take another two years to know whether he’s approved… I can totally relate to the sense of relief I’m sure you’re feeling. Celebration time!

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks Lindsay! I hope your boyfriend’s application goes well. It is such a stressful process, but feels so good when it’s all over!

      Reply
  3. Adam
    October 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm (1 year ago)

    I’ve been wondering what would happen with your visa situation. Very jealous but so happy for you!

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks Adam! It’s such a relief to know that I can stay!

      Reply
  4. Shelly
    October 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm (1 year ago)

    Congrats! *positively green with envy*

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 23, 2012 at 10:16 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Andi
    October 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Congrats!!!!!!

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 23, 2012 at 10:17 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks Andi!

      Reply
  6. A Gracious Life
    October 23, 2012 at 1:07 am (1 year ago)

    Wow, congratulations! I’m in awe how you have come to really love the UK. I think it’s a beautiful country.

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 23, 2012 at 10:17 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks! I agree.

      Reply
  7. Emily in Chile
    October 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm (1 year ago)

    Congrats! I’m so glad you made it before the rules changed – nice to know that next time we’re in London we’ll be able to meet up again. And very glad to know that you’re up on your Welsh Assembly trivia :)

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 24, 2012 at 7:31 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks Emily! I agree!

      Reply
  8. Emm
    October 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm (1 year ago)

    Woo hoo! Congratulations! I know my poor husband really swotted hard with his UK Life Test and he finally got his British passport last year. It has been great for him not to have had to get a visa every time we travel! Do you want citizenship? Are Americans allowed to have dual citizenship?

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 24, 2012 at 7:32 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks Emm! I’m glad it worked out for your husband. I would love to get citizenship, so we’ll see!

      Reply
      • Emm
        November 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm (1 year ago)

        Hopefully it will just be a matter of money! It’s certainly not a cheap process, is it?

        Reply
        • aladyinlondon
          November 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm (1 year ago)

          Yeah, it’s pretty expensive!

          Reply
  9. Stephen Clarke
    October 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm (1 year ago)

    Despite the fact I married an American Woman,
    It still took over a year to obtain the
    “Permanent Resident” status which still
    has to be renewed every 5 years. I am loath however to relinquish my British Citezenship and replace it with an American one. Did you relinquish your American one?

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 29, 2012 at 11:53 am (1 year ago)

      I have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is different from citizenship, so I only have American citizenship.

      Reply
  10. Lauren
    October 27, 2012 at 10:05 am (1 year ago)

    Congratulations. I am very happy for you.

    Do you have to take the Life in the UK Test again when you apply for citizenship? Or is British citizenship a mere formality now. Any major hoops to jump through?

    Reply
    • aladyinlondon
      October 29, 2012 at 11:51 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks Lauren! You don’t have to take the Life in the UK Test again for citizenship, thankfully!

      Reply
  11. samsam
    February 20, 2013 at 6:24 am (1 year ago)

    Congratulations.Am so happy for you.

    Please, how long does it take for the home office to deside. Thank you

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      February 20, 2013 at 9:15 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks! I went in person, so it only took a couple of hours. I have heard that if you mail your application in it can take up to six months.

      Reply
  12. Edrex
    March 28, 2013 at 12:46 am (1 year ago)

    congrats! I was on tier 2 but my employer got nasty and fired me, thinking I had no other option. Fortunately, my appl for ILR has just been allowed by the Tribunal! …after 13 months of waiting. It’s s a relief ‘cos I’ve got my family here and my former employer would be very happy for me now…NOT!!!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      March 28, 2013 at 8:17 am (1 year ago)

      Wow, what a story! I’m glad you got your ILR in the end!

      Reply
  13. Narelle
    June 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm (10 months ago)

    Congratulations glad you got it in time , I’m currently waiting for my ILR was just wondering how long you had to wait before you received yours x

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 20, 2013 at 7:50 am (10 months ago)

      I did the same-day service, so I only waited a few hours.

      Reply
  14. M
    July 22, 2013 at 11:37 am (9 months ago)

    Hello! I realise this is an old post, but just wondering if you could provide an overview of the documents you had to show for ILR? I have been in the UK on a Tier 1 since May 2009 and just trying to anticipate what I should have for my ILR application next year. Thanks!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      July 22, 2013 at 11:44 am (9 months ago)

      The form I used is called Set O, but things change so frequently that you’ll need to check to see if that’s still the case (or if that’s the correct form for you).

      Reply
    • Lauren
      April 13, 2014 at 10:55 pm (4 days ago)

      Hi,

      I have just got my ILR and am ecstatic just as all of you.
      Your main application form is SET(0). You will need a letter from your employer to confirm your Standard Occupational Code (SOC) code for Tier 1, the gross annual salary for the SOC code and the appropriate rate or higher salary for the code.
      Then you’ll need the most recent last 3 months original bank statements, most recent original payslips. For the bank statements and payslip, you cannot use online copies, they need to be original from bank and your employer.
      If you have been out of the country on holiday or business you need to provide confirmation from your employer for the dates you were out of the country regardless of how short. For holidays you need to provide proof that you had paid annual leave.
      The dates must include the exit and entry to the UK as stamped in your passport.
      Once you have all these supporting documents, your application should be fine.

      All the best !

      Reply
      • A Lady in London
        April 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm (4 days ago)

        Congratulations Lauren! It sounds like the process is still similar to what it was when I went through it. Mine was a bit different since I’m self-employed, though. I think it’s important for each person to research exactly what she or he needs to do in order to complete the (rather complicated!) process, as everyone’s situation is slightly different and the rules and procedures change over time.

        Reply

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