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British Citizenship by Naturalisation - Top 10 FAQs

If you are at least 18 years old and have been granted indefinite leave to remain or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation. In this post we answer some of the questions that are most frequently asked by individuals who wish to apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation.

1. What are the requirements for an application for Naturalisation as a British citizen? 

In order to qualify for Naturalisation as a British Citizen you must satisfy the Home Office that:

  • If married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen: 
    • You were in the UK on the day 3 years before the date you submit your application;
    • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the previous 3 year period; 
    • You are not subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK at the date of your application;
  • If not married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen: 
    • You were in the UK on the day 5 years before the date you submit your application;
    • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the previous 5 year period;
    • You are not subject to any limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK and have not been subject to any such time limit at any time during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that previous 3 or 5 years;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the previous 12 month period ;
  • You are not subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK at the date of your application;
  • You are a person of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of language and life in the UK;
  • You have suitable two referees for your British citizenship application.

2. My absences in the final year are over 90 days due to the pandemic, can I still apply for British citizenship?

The Nationality policy: Naturalisation as a British citizen by discretion guidance states for absences between 100 to 180 days, discretion may be exercised if: 

  • You have demonstrated that they have made this country your home by establishing a home, employment family, property and finances in the UK; and 
  • the absence is justified by Crown service or by compelling occupational or compassionate reasons, including inability to travel because of a global pandemic

3. What does it mean to be “free from immigration time restrictions”? 

If you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you will need to be free from immigration time restrictions on the date you make your British citizenship application. If you are not married to or the civil partner of a British citizen you should have been free from immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the 5 year qualifying period.

The Naturalisation guidance provides ways in which a person can demonstrate that they are free from time restrictions including:

  • A passport showing permission to remain permanently in the UK; 
  • A Home Office letter showing permission to remain permanently in the UK;
  • A biometric residence permit (BRP) showing ILR, ILE or no time limits; 
  • A certificate of entitlement to the right of abode;
  • A permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence under the EEA Regulations.

4. Do I need to prove my knowledge of the English language if I am a fluent English speaker? 

Yes. You can satisfy the knowledge of language requirement if you:

  • Are a national of a majority English speaking countries (Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.);
  • Have a valid speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, that is on the Home Office’s list of recognised tests and was taken at an approved test centre ;
  • Have a degree obtained in the UK; 
  • Have a degree certificate that was taught or researched in a majority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification;
  • Have a degree certificate that was taught or researched in a non majority English speaking country and: an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification and o an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC showing that your degree was taught in English.

5. How do I satisfy the Life in the UK requirement when I apply for British citizenship?  

You must have successfully completed the Life in the UK test at a test centre in the UK. The test must be booked through the official government website. The costs of the Life in the UK test is £50. If successful, you will receive a unique reference number which you must provide when applying for naturalisation. 

6. What is the good character requirement for a British citizenship application?

The British Nationality Act 1981 requires any person who wishes to naturalise as a British Citizen to be of ‘Good Character’. An explanation of how this requirement is assessed is provided in the Nationality policy guidance including a non-exhaustive list of conduct that will mean an applicant is not of ‘good character’. This relates to criminality, terrorism, financial soundness, notoriety deception and dishonesty and immigration-related matters such as unlawful residence in the UK due to overstaying. Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that any potential good character issues are identified and properly addressed as part of your application.

7. Who can be a referee for my British citizenship application? 

As part of your application, you will need to provide two referees. One referee must be the holder of a British Citizen passport (and either a professional person or over the age of 25). The other referee should be a person (of any nationality) who has professional standing. This can include a minister of religion, civil servant or a member of a professional body such as an accountant or solicitor (who is not representing you with this application). A list of acceptable professional persons can be found here

Both referees must not be a relative, solicitor or agent of the applicant, related to the other referee or employed by the Home Office. They must know or have known you personally for more than 3 years. They must be willing to give full details of their knowledge of you and advise the Home Office of any reason why you should not be registered. Referees must also not have been convicted of an imprisonable offence.

8. When will I receive a  British passport?

You will not automatically receive British passport if your application for naturalisation is successful. A naturalisation application to become a  British citizen is not the same as applying for a British passport, in fact it is the first step to eligibility for the issue of a British passport. You must submit your naturalisation application to become British and, if successful, your naturalisation certificate will then  be used to apply for a  British passport.. 

9. How much are the British citizenship application fees?

An application for a Naturalisation as a British citizen costs £1,330. You will also need to attend a citizenship ceremony which costs £80. 

10. How long will it take to receive a decision on an application for Naturalisation as a British citizen

An application for a Naturalisation as a British citizen can take up to 6 months to be determined. In our experience, applications take approximately 2-4 months but this may now be affected as a result of the pandemic. 

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with applications for a Naturalisation as a British citizen, contact our Nationality Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.




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