Update: As of 1 December 2020, the Tier 2 (General) ILR route no longer exists and has been superseded by the Skilled Worker ILR route. 

Individuals on Tier 2 General visa can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to settle in the UK.

Tier 2 General visa holders need to have lived in the UK for a qualifying period of 5 years and fulfil several requirements such as minimum annual salary threshold and at the appropriate rate among others.

We advise and help with Tier 2 ILR visa applications on a daily basis. Contact us today so that we can assess your situation, advise you on the requirements and help you make a successful ILR application.

Learn more about how you can apply for settlement – ILR under Tier 2 General category, application requirements, documents and fees you need to submit for the application.

Important: Tier 2 (General) route will be replaced by the Skilled Migrant Worker Visa route post Brexit.

Tier 2 ILR Requirements

Tier 2 General visa holders will need to fulfil all the requirements for Points Based System settlement applications including some specific Tier 2 requirements.

Please note that this article only refers to the requirements of Tier 2 General visa migrants and there might be different rules and requirements for other Tier 2 visa categories including Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson). The Home Office will not take into account leave spent under Post Study Work Visa – UK Graduate Immigration Route.

Generally, the main settlement requirements following the Tier 2 General visa category includes;

  • Meeting minimum income threshold under current Tier 2 sponsorship
  • Fulfilling conditions of a qualifying period of residence in the UK for settlement
  • Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK – You will need to submit proof of passing the life in the UK test and possessing an English qualification at a minimum level of level B1.

All of the major requirements are further discussed in details in the sections below.

Qualifying Period for ILR from Tier 2 General

You can qualify for ILR after you have continuously lived in the UK for five years under Tier 2 General visa route.

While your grant of leave at the time of application needs to be under Tier 2 Visa category, the continuous 5 years requirement can be fulfilled under the combination of different visa routes including;

The qualifying period for your ILR application can start from your initial approval of your leave to remain or entry clearance. Only the recent 5 years will be considered if you have lived more than 5 years in the UK. (Also see options for ILR on 10 years basis.)

You cannot apply more than 28 days before the completion of your five-year qualifying period and doing so will lead to refusal without refund of any fees at all.

There are also strict requirements for an applicant to have completed the qualifying period fully in the UK. Applicants who entered the UK several weeks after their visa valid date might need to apply for an extension to complete the qualifying period before they can apply for the ILR.

Absences under Tier 2 General

Applicants applying for ILR under Tier 2 General visa category shouldn’t have more than 180 days’ absence from the UK during any consecutive 12 month period within the 5 year period.

Please note that the rules have been updated recently to include absences in any consecutive 12 month period. Previously, the 180 days of absence was considered for the entire 5 years consecutive period from the date of application.

All applications made after 11 January 2018 will be subject to the new rule which considers absences on a rolling basis, rather than in separate consecutive 12-month periods.

While making your application, you will now have to list all the absences during your qualifying period including the reasons for those absences. Again, this is something that our immigration lawyers can fully help you with while preparing your application.

Not complying with the absences is also one of the major reasons for ILR applications refusal and so it’s highly advised that you refer to an experienced immigration advisor.

There are some situations in which discretion can be exercised for qualifying periods. If the recent absences rule, for example, causes exceptionally harsh consequences, it’s recommended to fully explain the reasons in the covering letter.

Minimum Earnings Threshold for ILR

Tier 2 (General) migrants are required to earn either the appropriate rate for the job or a gross annual salary the minimum earnings threshold (whichever is the higher) as listed below.

The minimum earning threshold for Tier 2 ILR applicants keeps on increasing every year as stated below from the period of 2018 – 2022.

  • £35,500, if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2018
  •  £35,800, if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2019
  • £36,200, if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2020
  •  £36,900, if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2021
  •  £37,900, if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2022

Although Tier 2 General visa holders are allowed to have a secondary employment, you are not allowed to combine the earnings with your primary employment to meet the minimum earning threshold.

You can, however, claim the earnings for either of your sponsored jobs separately to meet the threshold for ILR.

There are also additional restrictions on meeting on the minimum earnings threshold in situations where you work hourly, and type of allowances that you can include to meet this figure.

English Language Requirement for Tier 2 ILR

ILR applications based on the Tier 2 visa must fulfil the requirements of English language at the time of application.

The UKVI guidance recommends submitting a proof of one of the following to meet the requirements of English language qualification.

  • Speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • English based degree qualification
  • National of an English-speaking country

Life in the UK Requirement for Tier 2 ILR

In addition to the knowledge of English, UKVI requires applicants to submit a proof of knowledge of “life in the UK”.

Applicants will need to take and pass the Life in the UK test to fulfil this criterion. The test consists of 24 questions based on the official Life in the United Kingdom handbook and you will need to score 75% or more to pass the test.

Tier 2 Visa Holders Before 6 April 2011

Applicants who were granted Tier 2 Visa before 6th April 2011 are exempt from the current rule changes imposing six-year residency limit and are indefinitely allowed to apply for Tier 2 visa extensions.

Documents Required for Tier 2 ILR

There are several documents you will need to submit as part of your ILR application to meet the requirements that we discussed in the above sections.

Some of the important documents that will need to be part of your settlement application includes;

  • Confirmation letter from your current sponsor stating your job details and that your job is secure for the foreseeable future
  • Documents to verify absences along with reasons within the qualifying period
  • Confirmation of your Gross annual salary from your current sponsor
  • Documents supporting your earnings to meet the minimum threshold
  • Payslips and personal bank statements

You will receive a full list of documents and complete guidance on how to prepare such complaint documents if you instruct us for your ILR application.

Validity of ILR Status via Tier 2 General Route

As with ILR status with any other route, you will lose your validity to live indefinitely in the UK if you remain outside of the country for a continuous period of more than 2 years.

If you secure ILR and then decide to leave the UK for a period of 2+ years you will lose your entitlement for the status and you will need to apply for entry clearance (normally further to a Tier 2 General Visa) all over again.

FAQs – Tier 2 to ILR

To summarise, here’re some of the frequently asked questions about applying for ILR from Tier 2 visa.

Am I eligible to apply for ILR? 

As a Tier 2 General Visa holder, you must have lived in the UK for five years (see allowed absences above) and fulfil the following criteria in general.

  • Have an annual salary of £35,500 per year or more at your current Tier 2 job
  • Still employed with the registered Tier 2 Sponsor

See the article above for more requirements in details.

How long should I have lived on the Tier 2 Visa? 

You should have lived and worked in the UK for at least five years on the same visa. You can also choose to apply using the 10-year route if you have been the UK for 10 years under different visa categories.

Applying for ILR from Tier 2 General Category?

You will need to make an application for settlement using the form called SET(O) – Application for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom under the Tier 2 Category listed on the form.

We try to keep this guide updated with the latest changes but Immigration rules are subject to frequent changes and it’s advisable that you check the latest guidance or contact us directly before you make an application.

We can advise you on the merits of your application and help you make a successful ILR application. Our services for Tier 2 ILR includes helping you collect all the required documents, filling in the application form SET (O), and writing a cover letter to fully support your application.

Start with your application today by booking a consultation to discuss your Tier 2 settlement options.

Our Tier 2 ILR Services Review
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Our experienced team of Immigration Lawyers in London deal with Tier 2 ILR applications on a daily basis and would be glad to help you with your application.

Start by booking a consultation with one of our specialist lawyers for Tier 2 applications so that we can assess your case and guide you to make a successful application.