Residence permit

United Kingdom

Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 14/03/22


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Beneficiaries of refugee status and subsidiary protection (“humanitarian protection”) receive 5 years’ leave to remain. For most people, applying for settlement, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), after the end of the 5 year period of leave is a straightforward process.[1] Difficulties encountered relate to the length of time it takes for the application to be processed, as all documents must be submitted to the authorities. Therefore, although legally the period of leave is extended by virtue of the new application, this is difficult to prove to employers and or providers of services that may require evidence of leave to access. This is becoming an increasing problem, as the government seeks to deny more services to those who cannot provide evidence of leave.[2]

An additional problem has increased during 2020 although is not specifically a result of travel restrictions due to Covid-19. Applicants for visas and extensions of permission to stay, including refugees applying for Indefinite Leave following five years refugee leave, are required to re-register their biometrics at a Service and Support Centre run by a private company.[3] Whilst they are required to provide free appointments to those who make free applications (including refugees) there are very few centres with free appointments available. The Independent Chief Inspector reported on difficulties for those using these ‘Front End Services’ in a report published by the government in November.[4]drawing attention to the lack of free appointments which was one of the key concerns relating to refugees using these services. The government asked the contractors to ensure that more free appointments are available.

This same Home Office policy explains the circumstances in which a person’s application for unlimited leave (“settlement”) is denied.

Applicants must have held a UK Resident Permit (UKRP) for a continuous period of 5 years which must not have been revoked or not renewed. The Rules also enable the Home Office to delay granting settlement to those with a criminal history or where there is any evidence of extremist behaviours that run contrary to British values, either permanently or for set periods of time depending on the severity of the crime or behaviour. In these cases, the application for settlement may be refused but if the applicant is still in need of international protection, additional periods of time limited leave may be granted.[5]



[1] See Home Office, Asylum Policy Instruction: Settlement protection, 2 February 2016, available at:

[2]  See e.g. Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Passport please, February 2017, available at:; Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, Report on the ‘hostile environment’, October 2016, available at:

[3] See: Visas and Immigration Service and Support Centres on, available at:

[4] Inspection of Front End Services Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration November 2021

[5]  Home Office, Asylum Policy Instruction: Settlement protection, 2 February 2016, Section 7.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection