What is the difference between ILR and British Citizenship?


What is an ILR?

With an ILR in the UK, you can work and live there with no immigration controls. An ILR allows you to leave the country and enter whenever you want to. Note that there must not be more than 2 years of stay outside the UK. ILR is also known as settlement. You can apply for an ILR(Indefinite Leave to Remain) based on different circumstances.

How to check if you are a candidate for an ILR? Following are some of the circumstances;

1. You have a job in the UK

2. Your family lives in the UK

3. You have been residing in the UK for 5 years

4. You are a commonwealth citizen

5. If you are a refugee

6. If you are coming back to the UK (once had an ILR)

You can apply for ILR after residing in the UK for five years. Note that you can only apply if you have continuous residence in the UK. ILR provides an official status of a British Settled person. ILR however, comes with a set of restrictions. For instance;

- You cannot vote

- You can’t apply for a passport and a public office.

You also cannot stay outside of the UK for a span of 2 years or more. (In this case, you can lose your status as a settled person. In order to keep leaving in the UK you should apply for the Returning Resident Visa, requesting to reinstate the ILR status).

Benefits of holding an Indefinite Leave to remain (ILR):

If you want the UK as your permanent home, having an ILR is mandatory. The eligibility criteria for an ILR are mentioned above.

Following are the advantages of holding an ILR:

- The freedom of living, studying and working.

- There is no limited time to stay inside the UK (you don't need to apply to extend your visa over and over again).

- Access to British Benefit System and public funds.

- Do you wish to be a citizen? Your ILR is the first and the key step in doing so.

-  No immigration health surcharge.

- An ILR allows your family to apply for a UK visa as well.

What is British Citizenship?

British Citizenship however allows you what an ILR cannot.  You will have voting rights, hold a public office, have a British passport, and above all, you can leave the UK for as long as you have to. You can live outside the UK without losing your citizenship status. For applying for British Citizenship, you should have an ILR for at least 12 months (one year) and pass the Life in the UK test.

British Citizenship test is mandatory as it demonstrates:

- The candidate’s knowledge of the UK

- The applicant is well aware of the UK government and the law

-The candidate can adapt to the British lifestyle

- As well as has a grip on the English language.

Eligibility Criteria to Become a British Citizen:

The procedure of becoming or getting British Citizenship is called Naturalisation. There is a specific eligibility criterion for British Citizenship or Naturalisation.

1. The candidate must be above 18 years

2. Continuous resident in the UK for 5 years

3. Holds an ILR for a minimum of 12 months.

4. Has a grip on the English Language i.e., The candidate must meet the required English language level of B1CEFR.

5. Has passed Life in the UK Mock Test

6. Hasn’t breached any immigration rules and regulations of the UK.

7. The candidate must meet the “Good Character” requirement for British Citizenship.

Benefits of being a British Citizen:

Unlike an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) holder, a British citizen has way more access and freedom (to leave). Being a British Citizen allows you to have all the rights of a British national. Some of the benefits of British Citizenship include:

- Voting rights

- Right to hold a public office

-You will have the right to hold a Passport (British).

- Live, work, study without any limited time duration in the UK

- Right to get free medical healthcare

- Permanent residency in the UK.

-  You can stay outside the UK for an indefinite period of time (without risking your citizenship status in the UK)

How to become a British Citizen?

The eligibility criteria for becoming a British national are highlighted above. Meeting those requirements takes you one step closer to citizenship. If you’re a spouse or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you will be eligible to apply after you get instated as a settled person. A successful British Citizenship application requires passing the Life in UK test.

What is the Life in the UK test?

Life in the UK Test is the key step towards gaining citizenship and living in the UK. This test demonstrates your knowledge about the UK (law, traditions, lifestyle, etc.) and the English language. Life in the UK test comprises 24 multiple choice questions, in order to pass you will have to answer 18 questions correctly i.e., score 75 marks. You will have 45 minutes to complete your test.

Preparing for the Life in the UK Test:

An official study guide for preparing for the Life in the UK test is available online. The whole test is based on this handbook. It consists of five chapters, go through each and every chapter. Once you are done with the handbook, do the online available Life in the UK practice test questions. You can take the practice tests multiple times. On passing the official Life in the UK test you will be given a ‘unique reference number’.

How to book the Life in the UK test?

You can easily book your life in the UK test online from the official website. There are about 30 test centers across the UK. You can book your test in the center closest to you. Life in the UK test fee is £50. You will have to book the test at least 3 days before. For booking the life in the UK test, you will need the following:

- Email address

- Debit or credit card

- Document for identification; a valid

- Passport

- Travel document

- BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) or BRC (Biometric Residence Card)

In conclusion, an indefinite leave to remain is one step forward towards being a British citizen. And passing the life in the UK test is one of the requirements for getting the two. 

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