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5-year and 10-year routes to settlement

Dec 06, 2023

Settlement refers to the process of obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, which grants individuals the right to live and work in the country without any restrictions. It is a significant milestone for those who wish to establish their long-term residency in the UK.


There are two main routes to settlement: the 5-year route and the 10-year route. The 5-year settlement option requires applicants to have held qualifying visas, such as a spouse visa, for a continuous period of 5 years before they can apply for ILR. On the other hand, the 10-year route requires applicants to have lived in the UK legally and in compliance with immigration regulations for a minimum of 10 years.


The differences between the two routes extend beyond the time requirement. For example, the 5-year route is specifically designed for spouse visa holders who meet all the visa eligibility requirements within the 5-year settlement term. If they fulfil these requirements, they can explore the 5-year path to settlement. However, if they do not meet the eligibility criteria within the 5-year period, they may opt for the 10-year route.


It's important to note that the type of visa an individual holds determines whether they can settle after 5 years. For instance, if you hold a spouse/partner visa, you cannot include time spent as a fiancé, fiancée, or planned civil partner towards the 5-year requirement. However, for certain visas like the Skilled Worker visa, time spent in the UK under specific categories can count towards the 5-year settlement term.


To qualify for settlement, continuous residency is crucial. This means that applicants should not spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any consecutive year during the 5-year term.


Financial requirements also play a role in the 5-year settlement route. For example, spouse visa holders need to fulfil the financial criteria for the family visa, while Skilled Worker visa holders must continue to meet the minimum salary requirements set when applying for ILR.


In some cases, individuals may wish to switch from the 10-year route to the 5-year route. However, it's important to note that switching may reset their UK time, meaning that only the time spent within the limits of the 5-year settlement will count. If an individual has resided in the UK for 5 years as a spouse visa holder but did not meet the financial criterion, they may switch to the 5-year option, but they will need to stay for an additional 5 years to qualify for ILR. If they have less than 5 years remaining and hold a tourist or student visa, the 10-year settlement path may be more suitable.


Switching settlement options is possible if an individual can convince the Home Office that they meet all the spouse visa eligibility conditions. This includes earning a minimum income, maintaining a genuine relationship with their spouse, satisfying English language standards, passing the Life in the UK exam, and having a legal stay in the UK.


If you require assistance or advice regarding the 5-year or 10-year settlement routes, don't hesitate to contact us today at 01403 801 801 or visit our website www.ukvisas.co.uk

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