Naturalisation as a British Citizen
What is Naturalisation?
Naturalisation is the legal process by which a person becomes a natural citizen of the UK. You can become a British citizen either by birth or you can apply for naturalisation if you are aged 18 or over. To be eligible to become a British citizen, you need to prove that you have been in the UK on Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status for at least three years, and that you have never broken UK law, including immigration breaches.
Once your permanent residence status request is approved, you can live, work and study in the UK permanently, without any immigration restrictions. You will also be able to travel and spend time abroad without the need to worry about losing your status.
What are the eligibility requirements to become a British Citizen?
The eligibility requirements to become a British citizen are set out in the British Nationality Act 1981. You need to meet the following requirements to be eligible to become a British citizen:
- Be over the age of 18.
- Have spent at least 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, with no longer than 450 days outside the UK.
- Have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK for at least 12 months.
- Meet the B1 CEFR level English language requirements (unless exempt).
- Pass the Life in the UK Test, to show that you are aware of the basics of the British customs, traditions, and culture.
- Not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules.
- Demonstrate that they meet the Good Character requirement.
Exemptions for the English Language Naturalisation Requirements
Situations where evidence of proficiency in the British language would not be required for a Naturalisation application, are:
- Evidence of having completed a degree which was either taught or researched in English.
- Are either under 18 or aged 65 or over
- Suffer from a severe physical or mental condition that has affected you on a long term basis.
How can I show I am a person of Good Character?
To qualify for British citizenship, you must demonstrate your “good character”. In deciding whether you are a person of good character, the Home Office will consider your criminal record, if any. British nationality law is quite strict, and thorough background checks are an important part of validating your legal right to claim citizenship in the UK. The Home Office will also review any criminal offence committed overseas and UK immigration-related issue. Generally, the UKVI and the Home Office will not consider applications if a person has held a custodial sentence for four years or longer. Furthermore, those who fail to disclose the full details of their criminal history will also have their application automatically refused. The Home Office will, however, consider any contributions that you may have made to the society since you have been in the UK.
It can be extremely difficult to navigate through the naturalisation process, having a member of our expert London-based team guide you effortlessly through the process will not only put your mind at ease but give you the best chances of success.
What are the different immigration routes to obtain British citizenship?
According to your circumstances, there are several routes you can follow to register as a British citizen. These are following:
- British citizen by birth or descent
- British citizenship by marriage
- 5-year route
- Citizenship for stateless individuals
- Nationality for those who have renounced it
What is the application process to become a British citizen?
To apply for British citizenship, you can complete the relevant Home Office naturalisation form. This is Form AN Application for Naturalisation as a British citizen. You will be required to provide documentary evidence to support your application.
Your biometric details (photograph and fingerprint scans) need to be collected at your nearest UKVCAS Centre. The Home Office may contact you to let you know if you can provide your information at a local post office. If you wish, you can get in touch with the Home Office directly.
You can submit your forms and documents either from abroad or from within the UK.
You will also be required to provide details of two referees, who will need to sign a Referee Declaration form to confirm that the information you have provided on your form is correct.
The application process usually takes from three to six months. If your application is approved, you will receive an invitation to attend a Citizenship ceremony to obtain your Certificate of Naturalisation.
What documents do I need to apply for British Citizenship?
When you are applying to become a natural British citizen, you need to ensure that you have a list of documents to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements. These can include the following:
- Evidence of your identity and permanent residence status, such as your passport, birth certificate or any valid travel document.
- Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), residence card, or any proof that you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status.
- Evidence of your previous immigration status and your right to remain in the UK, including any visa that you held before you settled in the UK.
- Proof of English language and knowledge of life in the UK. You will receive a valid pass certificate after completing both the Life in the UK Test and the ESOL language exam. If you have already completed the Life in the UK Test when you obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain, you do not need to resit the exam.
- Evidence of lawful residential presence in the UK during the qualifying period. As a resident of the UK, you must have always respected all the immigration laws.
- Travel details of any period of absence that you have spent outside the UK. To become a British citizen, you need to show that you have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the five-year residence period
- Proof showing that you are free from UK immigration time restrictions, and you have the right to remain in the UK.
- You meet the good character requirement and you have never been in breach of any UK immigration laws.
- Proof that you have exercised treaty right in the last 3 or 5 years, depending on your immigration status. To this end, you can provide letters confirming your current employment, bank statements or letters from your education establishment.
How much does a UK Naturalisation application cost?
The current fee for naturalisation including a citizenship ceremony fee is £1,330 and nationality registration as a British citizen for adults is £1,206, while for children it is £1,012.
It is important to note this does not include additional fees such as £50 fee for taking a Life in the UK test.
Which application from do I need for Naturalisation?
This application form is for those who seek to become a British citizen through the process of naturalisation. The requirements that need to be met when making this application will depend on whether you are applying on the bases of marriage/civil partnership with a British citizen or not.
- Married/civil partnership with British Citizen – The minimum residential requirement that an applicant needs to show under this route is that they have been resident in the UK for 3 years. The focus of this application will be on the relationship that one has with a British Citizen.
- NOT married/civil partnership with British citizen – The minimum residential requirement that an applicant needs to meet under this route is to show they have been resident in the UK for 5 years. They must also show that they have been free from immigration restrictions for at least the most recent 12-month period leading up to the application. Applications under this category will often hinge on the good character’ requirement
Form AN is a comprehensive form 30 pages long, which requires detailed information about yourself. It is necessary to provide as much detailed information as possible to give you the best chance of success. Some of the information which you will need to include as a part of FORM AN are:
- Personal Information
- Biometric Information
- Residence Requirements
- Evidence of Good Character
These applications are in reference to a child naturalising as a British citizen. There are many different possibilities for a child qualifying under this route. They are as follows:
- Children born in the UK to parents now settled in the UK or who have become British citizens
- Children born in the UK to parents who have joined the armed forces
- Children whose parents are in the process of applying for British citizenship
- Children born abroad to parents who are British by descent and have lived in the UK or an overseas territory
- Children adopted abroad by British citizen parents
How long does the British Naturalisation application process take?
Once the appropriate fee has been paid the Home Office will begin processing your application. Generally, British Nationality applications are decided within 6 months. Once your application is approved, you will need to wait until you are summoned for your Citizenship ceremony to receive your Naturalisation certificate and thereafter apply for your British Passport.
There are many factors which play a key role in how long it takes for an application to be processed, less complex cases may receive an answer sooner than the expected six month wait time, whereas complex cases can take more than the average sixth months. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that you provide thorough and sufficient documentation to support your claim. Having a member of our specialist immigration team review your case before submission will be extremely beneficial in aiding your claim, as our expert immigration solicitors will thoroughly go through the application process, ensuring all necessary processes are completed with all relevant documentation attached to give you the best chance of success.
What if my Naturalisation Application is refused?
There are numerous reasons why a British Naturalisation application may be refused, some of the most common reasons for refusal are:
- Naturalisation refused to an existing CCJ
- Naturalisation refused due to tax reasons
- Naturalisation refused due to employment history
- Refusal based on character
- Refusal as a result of a criminal history
Your Naturalisation may be refused on the basis of a previous conviction, but attention may be given to the type of sentence received (whether it was custodial or non-custodial), the length of time served, and whether the nature of the crime occurred once or reoccurred on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, in the event of a refused naturalisation, there is currently no grounds for appeal. If however you believe your case is strong enough to have the original decision overturned, it is possible to submit a Request to Reconsider application which costs £372.
Alternatively, you can reapply for Naturalisation on a fresh basis, though you would be required to pay the application fee of £1,330 again.
If you are uncertain of anything, or you have any doubts that your application may be refused, contact one of our London offices, where our specialist Immigration advisors will give you, accurate advice gained from their years of experience.
Is Indefinite Leave to Remain same as British citizenship?
Although ILR (including permanent residence and EU settled status) and British citizenship entitle you to the same rights, these are two distinct statuses under Immigration law.
You can apply for ILR after five years of continuous residence in the UK. Once you are granted ILR, you will be officially a British settled person, and you will be able to live permanently in the UK, access public funds, be joined by your family and leave and re-enter the country without the need to apply for a visa.
Holding ILR is a mandatory step before you can naturalise in the UK as a citizen. However, it is essential to note that you can lose your ILR status if you live outside the UK for more than two years. You must have held ILR for at least 12 months to become eligible to apply for British citizenship. This is the same requirements for those who hold Indefinite Leave to Enter, and to EU and EEA citizens who have held EU settled status for a specific amount of time. During the 12-month qualifying period, you cannot spend more than 90 days away from the UK. You may be asked to provide details about any absence that you had made before submitted your request.
On the contrary, British citizenship will grant you full rights and responsibilities, including the ability to vote in parliamentary and local elections and to obtain a British passport. Most importantly, you will be able to leave the UK for unlimited periods of time without worrying about losing your status.
Why Adam Bernard Solicitors?
- Our expert team of immigration solicitors are considered some of the best throughout London. Our immigration solicitors have years of experience in completing citizenship applications.
- Requirements for naturalisation have become as strict as ever and navigating through the process can be extremely difficult. Our team of specialists remain up to date on all new developments within this area of law, giving you the best chances of success
- Our client testimonies highlight the numerous successes we have achieved for our clients.
To have a member of our expert immigration solicitors review your case, contact one of our London offices today.