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What is the quickest way to settle in the UK?

Often people want to come to the UK to settle in the UK, without a specific idea of what they want to do when they are here. This article will outline some of the quickest routes to settlement for those looking to come to the UK, as well as for those already in the UK.

Entering the UK

Settle in the UK after 2 Years

The quickest route to Indefinite Leave to Remain is the Accelerated Settlement route in the Tier 1 Investor category. This has an option for settlement after just two years, for those who have invested and maintained an investment of £10 million in the UK.

Settle in the UK after 3 Years

There are several options for settlement after three years. This includes:

An investor who wishes to settle after three years, will need to invest and maintain investment of £5 million in the UK.

An Entrepreneur wishing to settle after three years would need to show that their investment and experience has created at least 10 jobs in the UK for the settled population, or alternatively show that there has been a turnover in their business of £5 million. This is a net increase in jobs or turnover for those who have joined existing companies.

Those endorsed as Exceptionally Talented, rather than exceptionally promising can also settle after spending three years in the UK.

Settle in the UK after 5 Years

The categories that have a five year route to settlement include:

For those already in the UK

Those already in the UK may have a quicker route to settlement by combining different categories of leave together, rather than starting a new period of leave. In some categories, it is possible to rely on different periods of time in different categories to make up the relevant period for settlement. However in both the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Investor accelerated settlement categories, the period of time required (either two or three years) must not just be spent in the UK, but specifically in those categories.

Settlement on the basis of Long Residence

The most frequent way in which different categories of leave are combined to reach settlement is through the Long Residence route. This is the longest time period that it will take to get to settlement at 10 years, but it does let the applicant combine periods of leave in all categories, including categories which don’t lead to settlement such as student, visitor, and those who are exempt from immigration control. This means, for example, that someone who has spent six years as a Tier 4 Student, who then switches into the Tier 2 General category, will be able to settle quicker on the Long Residence route, than waiting to complete five years in the Tier 2 Category.

Tier 2 General Settlement

Unlike Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Investor, the Tier 2 General category allows applicants to rely on time spent in other categories to make up their five year period. The categories that can be relied upon include:

  • Tier 1 General
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur
  • Tier 1 Investor
  • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
  • Representative of an Overseas Business

This means, for example, that an Entrepreneur who switches into Tier 2 does not start their five year period again, however someone switching the other way from Tier 2 to Entrepreneur does, unless they then switch back into the Tier 2 General category before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

British Citizenship

For those who seek to apply to Naturalise as British Citizens, the period required will depend on the method of obtaining settlement. The minimum time period is a period of five years in the UK and the last year must be spent free from immigration time restrictions. This means that in practice those who settle after two or three years, are eligible to apply after five years, and those who settle after five years are eligible to apply after six years.

The only exception to this is where the applicant is married to a British Citizen, in which case it is possible to apply to naturalise after three years and immediately on obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain. For those who enter in the Spouse category, this in practice means a period of 5 years.

Contact our Settlement Immigration Lawyers

For advice about settling in the UK or for ongoing advice and support throughout your period of leave, contact Gillian McCall.  Alternatively, you can reach our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our enquiry form.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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