This blog follows my entrepreneurial and immigration journey of living and working in the UK. After receiving the Entrepreneur’s Visa (now Innovator Visa) and the UK Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa, I was able to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa.
The (ILR) or permanent residency (PR) is an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK), but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study. And this person can then be on their way to apply for UK Citizenship provided they meet the criteria for naturalisation.
So, in March 2019, I applied for the ILR and using the super priority 24 hour service, I became a successful recipient.
The ILR process was actually alot easier than I anticipated and the most challenging part for me was studying for the Life in the UK Test.
Life in the UK Test
The Life in the UK test was introduced to ensure applicants have a good knowledge of British customs, traditions, laws and the political system, as well as the English language. The test is computer based consisting of 24 multiple choice questions. To pass the test, applicants must receive a score of at least 18/24 = 75% and the cost is £50.
The test can be taken multiple times however, each time the test is taken, the £50 fee applies. I didn’t want to fail nor did I want to pay the £50 fee again so I prepared for the test by:
- downloading a free Life in the UK test app which consisted of mock test questions, practice questions and learning material;
- Buying the official practice test questions book and completing all the practice test questions; and
- using any opportunity to tell my friends and family about the test. It was a great way to engage them, compete with them and share the test questions with them. Some who were UK citizens admitted that they didn’t know the answers to some of the questions so it was great to educate them too.
Upon reflection, having watched a brilliant TV series The Tudors previously and touring Hadrians Wall in the North East helped me answer some of the questions. I also recommend visiting tourist spots such as the Tower of London, Stonehenge, London Museum, National Portrait Gallery, V&A Museum, Imperial War Museum, Churchill’s War Rooms just to name a few.
Testing the different cuisines of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England is also a great learning experience! As a foodie, here is the list:
- England: Roast beef, which is served with potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings (batter that is baked in the oven) and other accompaniments. Fish and chips are also popular.
- Wales: Welsh cakes — a traditional Welsh snack made from flour, dried fruits and spices, and served either hot or cold.
- Scotland: Haggis — a sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, suet, onions and oatmeal.
- Northern Ireland: Ulster fry — a fried meal with bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, soda bread and potato bread.
I am pleased to report that I passed the test the first time and the results provided was a pass (or fail). I don’t know how many or which questions I answered incorrectly but I was relieved to know I succeeded after a month of studying for the test. I must admit, I struggled with UK artists and sporting questions.
The other evidence for the ILR application also required proof that I earnt income in the field of digital technology during my 3 years so I provided evidence in the form of payslips and a letter from my employer. Because my start up is pre-revenue, pre investment and pre trade, I worked at a University by covering a maternity leave position as an employee in the field of digital technology.
There were other criteria including an English Language requirement but because I am an Australian citizen, I was exempt.
I also sought legal advice from an immigration solicitor to ensure all my questions were answered to reduce my risk of completing an incorrect or incomplete application. This is because the ILR fee plus the super priority service fee, the UKVCAS appointment fee and biometric fee meant that in total, my ILR application fee was in the vicinity of £3000.
I am extremely relieved that I was advised by the Home office almost immediately that my application was successful and I now have an ILR. (The decision was made in 48 hours rather than the speedy 24 hour super priority service so I received a refund of £610 which was a welcome relief).
The ILR is like a permanent residency which means that I can stay in the UK under no restrictions (other than restricted and recorded travel outside of the UK if I want to apply for British Citizenship) but it also means that I am free to work or study in any field (even though I will continue to work in the field of Digital Technology).
The ILR also meant that I was a step closer to becoming a British Citizen so that I can have the true freedom and flexibility that entrepreneurs who are British citizens have by default. The cost, the stress, the challenges that foreign entrepreneurs and talent who have visa restrictions and the need to record the amount of travel outside of the UK for x number of days means that these challenges have an impact on our personal and professional lives too. Also, the application fee for British citizenship is in the vicinity of £1300.
My Top Tips for getting an ILR
- Record all travel on an excel spreadsheet, update it regularly and keep within travel limitations outside of the UK.
- Start studying for the Life in the UK Test early. It doesn’t have an expiry date and make sure you don’t lose the sheet with your results because it will be very difficult to seek a new one.
- Consider how you will generate income while you are on your Exceptional Talent Visa if you are the founder of a start up that is pre-revenue.
- Check to confirm if you are exempt from the English language requirement criteria.
- Check to confirm when you can actually start applying for your Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- Upload all your documents yourself before your appointment at UKVCAS as it will save you alot of time.
- Before you leave any employment during your Exceptional Talent Visa, check the evidence required by the Home Office from your employer.
- Seek legal advice before you start.
Follow my next journey here on how I became a UK Citizen!
This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Consultant, Speaker, CEO & Founder of Made With Glove. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the Exceptional Talent Visa (now called Global Talent Visa) and is the former #TechNationVisa Ambassador. Michelle consults for highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and people working in digital technologies on how they can receive the endorsement for exceptional talent or exceptional promise. Read Michelle’s other blogs on the #TechNationVisa here and Michelle’s own journey here.