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What are 5- and 10-Year Settlement Routes?

Foreigners who have resided in the UK for 5 or 10 years may apply for permanent residency. Most people obtain it by living in the nation for 5 years. This option is for family, employment, and business visa holders. Long residency, or the 10-year road to settlement, permits a foreign person to achieve ILR even without a qualifying settlement visa provided they have resided legally in the UK for at least 10 years.

What distinguishes 5-year and 10-year routes?

Your permanent residency permit (ILR) application has two options. Those with a spouse visa who have resided there for 5 years may pick the 5-year option. If you resided lawfully in the UK and obeyed immigration regulations for 10 years, you may pick the 10-year track.

With a spouse visa, you have two options: 5 or 10 years. During the 5-year qualifying period for settlement, a spouse visa holder who has maintained full visa eligibility standards might consider the 5-year path. Spouse visa holders who do not quite fulfill the requirements for a visa may nonetheless apply for settlement via the 10-year option. The 5-year method has financial restrictions that they may not fulfill, but they may still apply for ILR 10 years.

5-year route to settlement conditions

Hold a valid UK visa that has enabled you to live there lawfully for five years. One example of a visa is:

  • Skilled worker visas and other long-term employment visas
  • Fulfill any particular criteria dictated by their visa. For example, spouse visa holders must live together. 
  • Keep up with the necessary financial obligations for the whole five-year term.
  • Fulfill the English language requirement with a degree taught in English or a CEFR English language certificate of level B1 or above.
  • Take and pass the UK Life Skills exam
  • Reach the standard for moral excellence

Is it possible to change the UK route from 10 years to 5 years?

You may change your spouse visa from the 10-year to the ILR 5 year route option, however your time in the UK can be reset. This is because the five-year settlement can only be earned by acting lawfully. If you have been in the UK for 5 years on a spouse visa but were unable to fulfill the financial criteria during that time, but now you are able to, you may change to the 5-year option; however, you will still be required to remain in the UK for another 5 years in order to qualify for permanent resident status. Keeping to the 10-year road to settlement could be the better option in some situations, such as when you only have 5 years left on your current visa and can use the time on another kind of visa, such a student or guest visa.

Switching from 10-year to 5-year route requirements

ILR visa holders (e.g., work and business visa holders) can usually switch from the 10-year route to settlement to the 5-year route by applying for ILR after 5 years and satisfying the Home Office that they meet the 5-year route UK to settlement requirements. No need to notify the Home Office about ILR route changes.

If you have a spouse visa, you may transfer from the 10-year to the 5-year settlement option by convincing the Home Office that you now fulfill all spouse visa eligibility requirements. Thus, you must:


  • earn at least £18,600 (plus any extra money for your children).
  • maintain a real bond with your spouse and satisfy English language standards.
  • pass the Life in the UK exam and reside legally in the UK.

The 5-year ILR path is available if the Home Office believes you fulfill all qualifying requirements.

Can QC Immigration be of assistance?

Settlement petitions under the 5- and 10-year pathways are forte at QC Immigration. As an immigration law firm, they are able to:

  • Walk you through the steps of submitting a settlement claim.
  • Recommend solutions to any issues you may have with your ILR eligibility.
  • Take care of your permanent resident application (PERM) whether you’re applying via the 5- or 10-year process.

Consult immigration attorneys if you need help applying for settlement under the 5 or 10-year option.