Azam Mangori, 24, ki*lled Lorraine Cox, 32, in his flat above a kebab shop in Exeter in September.
Mangori, of Dartmouth Road, Stoke-on-Trent, was found g*uilty of m*urder by a jury at Exeter Crown Court, after he admitted preventing a lawful burial.
Judge Justice Garnham said he should serve at least 20 years in j*ail.
Mangori left Ms Cox’s body in his flat for a week before dism*embering her.
Her remains were found in bin bags in an alley behind his flat, and in a woodland at Newton St Cyres, about 6 miles (9km) away.
During the sentencing the judge said Mangori had “ended the life of a bright, vivacious, intelligent young woman with her whole life ahead of her”.
He said Mangori’s “cowardice” in failing to report her death and attempting to hide the evidence “served to compound the loss and hurt suffered by her partner, her father, her other family and her friends”.
Ms Cox’s family had “suffered eight days of desperate hope and fruitless searching while you sat on your bed deciding how best to escape being held responsible”.
A video that Mangori made of himself vaping and listening to music just hours after the k*illing showed he had been “remarkably calm”, said the judge.
Elise Fallow, Ms Cox’s partner, said in her witness statement to the court that her “heart is broken, never to be repaired”.
She added: “Nothing will stop the pain I feel that the love of my life is not by my side.”
Pippa Moore said after the case that her friend Ms Cox was “quite random” and would “always make you laugh”.
“If there was no party she was the party, she always brought the fun to the party.”
Speaking after the gu*ilty verdict, Ms Cox’s family described her as “the most kind-hearted, loving, generous girl”, adding she was “the heartbeat of our family”.
“We hope and pray that no other woman or family has to go through what our beautiful girl suffered, or that any other family suffers the brutal, distressing experience we have all been through,” their statement said.
Mangori, an Iraqi Kurd who was denied asylum in December 2018, told the court he had panicked because he feared being deported.
But prosecutor Simon Laws QC called Mangori a “fluent and determined liar” and said he had smothered her with a T-shirt.
The court heard after Ms Cox was k*illed, Mangori used a SIM card from her phone to send messages to her family, partner and friends in an attempt to show she was still alive.
He also looked at amputation videos in the days before her disappearance, jurors were told.
Mangori was caught on camera in shops buying supplies to help him dispose of her body, including bin bags, tape, a suitcase and an air purifier to hide the smell.
The Home Office said after the case that “foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing heinous crimes should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them”.
A spokesperson said its “priority will always be to keep the British public safe” and reforms of the asylum system would “make it easier to return failed asylum seekers who have no right to remain in the UK”.
Ms Cox had been sexually ass*aulted in Exeter in May 2018 by a man called Robert Prout, 35, of Hawthorn Road, Exeter.
He was found g*uilty of the as*sault and raping another woman by a jury at Exeter Crown Court and ja*iled for 10 years in January.
The jury at the mur*der trial heard that Ms Cox had moved from Exeter to Scotland after the ass*ault, but had returned to visit friends in the city when she was kil*led by Mangori.