There have been frequent changes in Immigration Rules from the past few years and the big shake-up of these rules have been implemented from 9 July 2012 which have significantly affected the family route applications. You can make various applications to apply for leave to remain either on a temporary or permanent basis but you need to check how the new changes have affected you or your family applications for temporary permission or indefinite leave to remain so that you follow the relevant law and rules for the successful outcome of your case.
If you are a foreign national who is subject to immigration control but have lawfully lived in the UK for a certain length of time, you may be able to apply for permission to settle here permanently. This is known as Settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Given that a successful application will grant you permanent residency in the UK, there are strict criteria set out under the Immigration Rules that you must satisfy. Your right to apply for settlement will depend on your current immigration category and whether you continue to meet the criteria for that category.
You can qualify for ILR through various routes, most commonly where you are in the UK with permission as a partner, family member, certain workers, continuous and long-term lawful residence and those with ancestry ties. The dependent child of a British citizen or a person who is settled in the UK may be given immediate permission to remain indefinitely, and refugees who are resettled in the UK through the Gateway Protection Programme will automatically be granted immediate permission (click here for Claiming Asylum).
To make an application you must already be in the UK and in many cases will need to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life, although certain applicants are exempt from this requirement including children (under 18), parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives of people present and settled in the UK, or those resident in the UK as a refugee. You can demonstrate your knowledge of language and life by passing the Life in the UK test, and either having a recognised qualification in English, having a degree that was taught or researched in English or being a national of an English-speaking country.
As part of your application for ILR you will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as biometric information) and obtain a biometric residence permit. This will confirm your immigration status and entitlements.
FURTHER LEAVE TO REMAIN
If you do not yet qualify for ILR you may be able to extend your existing visa temporarily. This is known as Further Leave to Remain. If you came here as a visitor, in most cases you cannot extend your permission to stay beyond 6 months although in limited circumstances you may be able to switch to a different immigration category. You must also apply to extend your stay before your existing permission expires as an over stayer will risk an order for enforced removal.
RETURNING RESIDENTS – Your settled status may be lost if you have lived abroad for a continuous period of 2 years or more.