You are about to put in an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you see the eye-watering fees – worse if you are applying with a plus 1 (or 2 or 3) – this excludes lawyer’s fees, NHS surcharge, postage, passport photographs, all else expense…..Lord have mercy!
Well it has been said that heaven help those who help themselves and so, you have researched to a right place to read, digest, and discuss (perhaps with a lawyer) if you are body-proof ready for the ridiculously expensive ILR route.
Before we go on, please read below – it is essential you do!!
[PLEASE NOTE: The story here is based on personal experience aimed at signposting and suggesting helpful tips which should not be considered or substituted for legal opinion. No two cases are the same, a route works for one does not mean the exact same will work for you and as am NOT a lawyer, any suggestions seen here should be explored by seeking advice from a lawyer, the home office or a certified Legal expert for further assistance.]
Now you have read, lets go…
Prior to applying for ILR, finance was a huge obstacle, then in the process of applying, working twice as hard to increase the chance of a positive response with no lawyer was another obstacle. In-fact, having no lawyer was a huge risk considering there was a potential minor hiccup with my case.
But since I had been granted Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) twice (2X3 years following the old rules), and was becoming an oldie at this whole application thing plus no spare money to apply through a lawyer, I had no choice.
So getting an ‘approval’ letter with the biometric card at the end of it all was beautiful, flipping expensive (also had to pay the courier company to collect package) but an accomplished moment. So what did I learn? What did I realise in my application?
Thinking about finance
At the very basic, it is wise to be aware of ILR and associated fees well before time to start the savings pot – we are not talking 3-4 months before. There is also the likelihood of price changes – for instance as at point of application in August 2016, it was a whooping £1,875, and now, June 2017, it stands at an even more ridiculous amount – £2,297.
The savings pot was a perfect plan until losing 500 quid to an unplanned circumstance two months before application which made me realise anything can happen.
Stuck at this dangerous point, Citizen’s Advice Bureau was a starting point to getting some kind of help. I learnt I was not eligible for a fee waiver – not destitute or among certain other groups. I did get the option to apply for an extension giving me extra time to gather ILR fees.
I was well over the £1,000 extension fees, so turning to family and friends plus some more wages helped, and off I went into dilemma number 2 – the application.
The 100 page application form
To start with, choosing the right form is essential and as in my case coming from DLR – but not an asylum seeker – set form (O) was applicable, a 100 page application form!
The form was daunting, let’s not talk about printing costs or going through each page individually, but it was straight forward-ish for a DLR applicant: ticked ‘Other’ in the ‘Which category?’ box, explaining further in the space provided that I was eligible for ILR under 6-year DLR route also stating dates with evidence. Section 9 was not relevant – but who knows if that has changed?
Another plus for DLR applicants is the Life in the UK test. As at time of application, we were exempt which had to be noted in the space provided. This may still be free – worth checking, but likely to change – worth double checking.
Life in the UK test eligibility
Almost finished – at least I thought – gathered all original copies of evidence; old passports, expiring biometric card, passport photographs, payslips, previous Home Office letters, bank statements, police certificate, children’s birth certificate and more ensuring I had all the ‘Photographs and Documents’ as in the checklist provided with the forms.
But I added 2 more documents to put my mind to rest given the minor hiccup I mentioned earlier: cover letter and photos.
My original ILR application after 10 years in the country was refused. A visit to the MP and letter and photos sent to the Home Office put an end to two years of frustration in the country. Not as easy as it looks, things did not change overnight, my then lawyer asked why take such risk on my own – I had to do something otherwise my file was probably in pile 8 of forms to get through. Made that number up!
Since then, a letter and photos have been part and parcel of my applications and this case was no different. The letter was like a job application covering letter except thinking why I should be allowed to stay in the country? What ties did I have here? What is special about me? Am I a good citizen of the country (volunteering letters)?
The photos was for someone to put a face to the name. After-all we including Home Office workers are humans with embedded lives and (in my case) got the accent, got the kids and all.
Look, cover letters and photos are not essential. You do not send these if you are not comfortable, it is only at discretion. They do not guarantee the success of an application, but it can be an added value.
You find yourself thinking how to apply and get a yes, some information here are irrelevant to your case, some useful but ensure you talk to someone – discuss with your lawyer, adviser, or go to CAB to clarify any worries.
Below are some useful references, for example Immigration boards helped a lot in answering some questions. With all that said and done, are you document-proof for ILR? Research, learn more and Goodluck
Sources and References
Sources below are research links that can help in completion of an application form which may be handy. Note these are subject to change and should check you are reading the most up to date version.