The UK Government when granting leave to remain (visa) where a person does not meet the Immigration rules and is relying on private or family life, or Art 8 (European Convention on Human Rights), or is a failed asylum seeker, often grants “discretionary leave to remain”, also known as leave outside of the rules.
Under the old immigration rules before 9 July 2012, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain – settlement – after 6 years of discretionary leave to remain, including a discretionary leave to remain extension.
This means that you can apply to naturalise as a British Citizen after holding indefinite leave to remain for one year, or you can apply straight after you receive indefinite leave to remain if you are married to a British National.
Furthermore, people with children in the UK who have lived here longer than seven years, and where it is not reasonable for the child to return to their country, may also be granted discretionary leave (276 ADE (1) (iv).
The majority of cases now, however, will be on the ten-year route to settlement, meaning applying four times every two and a half years until completing ten years discretionary leave.
Notably, people granted discretionary leave to remain because of a child under Appendix FM can be granted indefinite leave to remain after five years, if meeting the English language requirement at the start of the five year period.
This is a highly complex area of the law, and careful preparation and submission are required, as the UKVI can refuse to grant further extensions of leave.