This is a fairly random blog post, and it will most likely become out of date quite quickly BUT I wanted to write it so you can learn from my mistakes. Even though I had always planned to do ILR and eventually citizenship I had not looked into the specific documents that I would need. My philosophy was that the rules changed so often (which is true, they changed a few times in-between arriving in the UK and five years later filing for ILR), that there was no point getting into the details too early.
However practically this meant when I did come round to it, 80% of my time was spent in trying to gather 5 years of documents – which was a pain in the proverbial. So here is a list of documents that I would tell my past self to keep in a handy place, obviously this is not exhaustive & I am not an immigration adviser so I would highly recommend checking the actual government requirements.
- Keep all the documents you used for your original visa application. I came into the UK on an Ancestry Visa (based on my grandmother being born in Glasgow) which meant I needed to resubmit her birth and marriage certificate, my mother’s birth and marriage certificate and my birth certificate as part of the ILR & Citizenship application.
- A list of every time you left and entered the UK…EVERY TIME. You also needed to mark if this travel was holiday, work or visiting family/friends. This was such a pain to organise at the end of five years, so just keep a list of every entry/exit date along with the country (s) visited and the reason for travel.
- Employment contracts, yes all of them. Also keep a list of all your job titles, official company names and the address of the company. You would be amazed at what you forget in 5 years.
- Every P60 (end of year tax form from your employer) and P45 (tax form you are given when you leave a job) that you are ever given. Keep hold of these like they are gold dust, they not only prove your income but more importantly they prove that you lived in the UK.
- Pay slips! Keep your damn payslips. If they are digital copies make sure you send them to a personal email address (not a work one, because if you leave you won’t have access to them) and then also save a copy somewhere as a backup.
- Any signed lease documents & a couple of bills with your name on it from any property you lived in. Personally I didn’t bother keeping the whole lease, just the first couple of pages showing the property address and official signatures. For bills, I just made sure I kept a council tax bill or two from each property.
- If you get a new passport, keep hold of the cancelled one as you need to submit that as well.
- Make friends with an accountant or lawyer… one of the requirements for Citizenship (I can’t remember if I had to do this for ILR as well, or just citizenship) is to have two people act as references. One had to be a British person who had known you for 5 years, and the other had to be a person of any nationality but they had to be on the list of registered professions (i.e. accountants, lawyers etc). Depending on who you hang out with, this can actually be a tricky request – so it may be worth coming up with a plan in advance.
- Ask for a pay rise. Mid-way through my time in the UK they brought in minimum earning requirements for ILR applications. I know finding a job you love is a wonderful idea, but you may have to sell your soul if you want to make enough money for your application.
I am not an expert by any means, and as I said before the applications change all the damn time. But if you just keep track of the above you will find the forms less frustrating than I did – because there is a whole mountain on top of the above (like the Life in the UK test) that will make life complicated enough.