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Naturalisation and Indefinite Leave to Remain: Differences you need to be aware of.


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Naturalisation and Indefinite Leave to Remain

Naturalisation is the process by which an individual can become a British Citizen. However, what many people might not be aware of is that in some cases, in order to obtain your citizenship, you will first need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, or what is commonly referred to as settlement. This is also referred to as ‘Settled Status’, for those who have successfully applied under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

If Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) establishes settlement, you might then be wondering why it’s necessary to obtain citizenship. Read on to find out about the differences below.

Indefinite Leave to Remain  

ILR effectively equates to settlement in the UK. It provides you with the right to live, work and study indefinitely. There are different ways you can be eligible to apply for ILR in the UK, and you can do so if you have lived and worked here for 5 years or 10 years. The application will also depend on what basis you have been living in the UK, including: 

  • Applying for ILR after 5 years as a spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner. 
  • Applying for ILR on the basis of long residence (10 years).  
  • Applying for ILR as a child whose parents are settled. 
  • Applying for ILR as a refugee or someone who has been granted humanitarian protection.  
  • Applying for ILR as a victim of domestic violence. 
  • Applying for ILR as someone who is approaching 5 years of continuous (limited) leave to remain in the UK in one of the following visa categories: Skilled worker, Scale-Up worker, Global Talent, Innovator Founder, Representative of an Overseas Business, Turkish Worker or Businessperson visa or a Private Servant in a Diplomatic Household (or Domestic Worker).  

You may also be eligible to apply for ILR if you have a partner, parent, or child or other relative settled in the UK.  

In order to meet the requirements for ILR, you will additionally need to prove that you have maintained a continuous period of lawful residence in the UK. This is the minimum amount of time a migrant must spend in employment or being active in the UK economy. No more than 180 days of absence from the UK are therefore allowed in a consecutive 12-months period.  

Unfortunately, for many UK settlers who have gone through the above requirements and application processes, ILR does not grant the same rights and entitlements as British Citizenship. Although you are permitted to live and work in the UK freely, ILR status can be revoked and so an individual is still subject to immigration control. ILR can be revoked for many reasons including:  

  • Criminal or Immigration offences  
  • A break in consecutive residence; an individual with ILR cannot spend more than 2 consecutive years outside the UK.  

British Citizenship 

As ILR holders are still subject to immigration control, British Citizenship is the next appropriate step in your journey to complete settlement in the UK. In order to apply for citizenship, you will need to have held ILR status for 12 months, unless you are married to a British Citizen, in which case you can apply immediately. There are of course other ways you can apply for British citizenship, including, but not limited to: 

  • Being born in the UK   
  • Having parents who hold British citizenship.  
  • Being born outside the UK to British parents. 

What are therefore the benefits of British citizenship, and why should individuals with ILR aim to apply for this? 

  • You will be able to apply for your first British passport as soon as you receive your citizenship certificate. This will also give you the benefits of travelling visa-free to over 160 countries.  
  • You will be eligible to vote in all UK local and general elections and even campaign for office as a British national.  
  • You will have the support of UK government within the UK and abroad.  
  • You will be able to hold dual citizenship with other countries.  


In conclusion, it is evident that you will gain more benefits from obtaining your citizenship or naturalisation as a British citizen as opposed to just holding ILR status. Whilst ILR can lapse, British Citizenship cannot. What is important to note is that ILR is the main pathway to obtaining citizenship, so if you hold ILR, you can rest assured knowing you hold a very important ticket to your final step in becoming a citizen of the United Kingdom.  


If you wish to talk to us about your Indefinite Leave to Remain or citizenship application, please contact our friendly team of London immigration lawyers at Barar & Associates at or call us on 020 7487 8370. You can access more information about us at 

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