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This section explains how you can apply to settle permanently in the UK if you are a migrant from outside Europe. It also tells you whether you can return to the UK if you have gone to live abroad after being granted settlement here.

You should always seek legal advice to ensure you meet the published Immigration Rules, call us today on 0207 237 3388 to receive legal advice or simply e-mail us on

Applying for indefinite leave to remain based on residency

After you have lived legally in the UK for a certain length of time, you may be able to apply for permission to settle here. This is known as 'indefinite leave to remain'. If you are applying to enter the UK as the child of a British citizen or a person who is settled here, we may be able to give you immediate permission to settle here permanently. If you are considering applying for settlement in the future, please note that the Immigration Rules are subject to change. You must meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules at the time when you make your application. Most applicants for settlement must show that they have knowledge of language and life in the UK.

Applying for settlement in the working categories

On 13 December 2012, UK Border Agency updated the Immigration Rules to set out the absences that those who are working or who are in business here are allowed to be absent from the UK in the qualifying period for settlement. 

Returning to the UK if you are settled but have been living abroad


If you were given permission to settle here but you then decided to live abroad for some time, you may be able to return to the UK as a settled person. The Returning resident’s page contains more information.



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