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What are the UK Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship - Differences

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement, allows you to enter the UK to live and work, and you are no longer subject to immigration controls when you enter the UK.  As long as you behave and remain a resident in the UK, you are free to come and go as you please.

    You can obtain ILR once you have lived and worked in the UK legally for a period of five years, or two years if you are married to a UK citizen. ILR is never given to temporary visa holders such as visitors, students or youth mobility scheme workers.

    When you apply for UK Tier 1 investor Visa, you must complete a continuous residence period of 2, 3 or 5 years depending on your level of investment in the UK, before you can apply for settlement.

    The partner of an investor can apply for settlement at the same time as the investor, if they have lived together in the UK for at least 2 years before applying for settlement.

    As the main applicant (investor), you cannot be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 consecutive months during the continuous residence period to be eligible to apply for ILR.

    Naturalisation or citizenship gives you the right to a passport and the full rights of a UK citizen, including all the rights of a citizen of an EU country. You can apply for citizenship after one full year holding ILR.

    ILR vs Citizenship

    The indefinite leave to remain is like a residence permit. It basically allows a non-British citizen to live and work in the UK free from any immigration constraints, such as work permits.  Keep in mind that you will still be subject to the immigration controls on the citizenship of your native country when you visit other countries.

    Another major difference between ILR and UK citizenship is that while ILR can lapse if you stay away from UK longer than 2 years, British citizenship is for life.

    You need ILR to apply for British citizenship by naturalization, unless you're a citizen of an EU member state. If you are a citizen of an EU country you need only fulfill the residency requirement to apply for British citizenship.

    Also British citizenship confers all the benefits of EU citizenship, allowing you to travel, live, work or retire in just about anywhere in Europe, and join the quicker EU passport line at UK immigration.

    The difference between obtaining citizenship through marriage and residence (investment, work, study) is, as stated, you can apply for citizenship as soon as you obtain ILR status when married to a British citizen and not have to wait for further 12 months.

    As long as you have held ILR for at least a year and meet the residence requirements, you can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen.

    Processing Time & Fees for UK Citizenship

    It takes up to six months to process a citizenship application and you must attend a citizenship ceremony within three months of your application being approved.

    The current fee for the UK citizenship application is £874 + £80 ceremony fee:


    The fee for a British passport is £72.50 for a first passport. You may be required to attend an identity interview. Allow six weeks for your passport to be issued.


    NB: The information on this website is provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on any subject matter.

    Photo credit: https://www.gov.uk/

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    Vicky Katsarova

    A citizen of the world in every sense of the phrase, Vicky has done her fair share of traveling. Born and raised in Bulgaria, she spent 10 years living and working in Abu Dhabi before settling down with her family in Nova Scotia, Canada. And it’s only fitting for the CEO and founder of High Net Worth Immigration to be an avid globetrotter—her extensive travels have given her deeper insight and understanding into her clients’ needs.

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