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UK settlement visas and settling in the UK

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A UK settlement visa allows a person to live, work and study in the UK without almost any restrictions. Another way of saying settlement status is ‘indefinite leave to remain’, which is what the UK Home Office refers to it as. It is the most long-term visa status a person can have in the UK before applying for British citizenship.

Who can settle in the UK

If you have been living in the UK for five years or more and are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will probably be able to apply for a settlement visa. You must have been in the UK on a different type of visa to begin with, such as a work, study or business visa. If you are from the EEA or Switzerland and have been living in the UK exercising Treaty Rights for the same amount of time you also may be eligible to apply for settlement, known as ‘settled status’.

It is possible to apply for UK settlement on the basis on long continuous residence. This means you have been legally living in the UK for at least ten years. If you have been living in the UK for over twenty years but some of it was illegal, you still may be eligible to apply for settlement. Your best bet is to get in touch with an immigration solicitor, who will be able to explain the rules and your chances of settlement to you.

Settling as a family member

It is possible to get settlement on the basis of your relationship with a family member, such as a child or partner.

Partner settlement visa

If you’re applying as a partner – either married or unmarried – you and your partner will have to meet certain requirements, including:

  • Your partner must be a British citizen or be settled in the UK
  • You must be married, in a civil partnership, or in a cohabiting relationship for at least two years
  • You both must intend to continue the relationship after you submit your application
  • You personally will have to pass an English language test and the Life in the UK test

Depending on when you applied and on what visa your partner was granted entry into the UK, you will have to have been in the UK for two, five or ten years continuously before you can apply for settlement. Before applying for your settlement it is a good idea to contact an immigration solicitor for advice. By doing this, you can avoid making simple mistakes which could end up costing you money and time, and maybe even end in your settlement application being denied.

You could also be refused for settlement as a family member if you have a criminal record in the UK or another country, have broken immigration law in the UK or given the Home Office false or information.

Child settlement visa

You might be able to apply for settlement for your child if they are under 18, as long as your partner is their parent. They must also be in the UK on a valid visa, living with you and your partner, be able to prove that they have adequate accommodation and support, and not be married or in a civil partnership.

If your partner is not your child’s parent, you can still apply for settlement on your child’s behalf if:

  • You have sole responsibility for their upbringing
  • You are their sole surviving parent
  • There are certain circumstances which give reason why they should be allowed to settle in the UK

How to apply for UK settlement

Whether you are applying for a UK settlement visa as an individual, a partner or a child, you must ensure you meet all of the requirements before you apply. You need to submit all the correct documentation to the Home Office alongside your application, and if you don’t, your application will likely be refused.

It is possible to apply for settlement by yourself online, however many people choose to get the help of a trained immigration specialist before submitting their application so as to avoid risking rejection.