Personal Immigration

British Citizenship & Naturalisation - How To Apply

If you are at least 18 years old and have been granted indefinite leave to remain, EU settled status, or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK under the EEA Regulations, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship on the basis of Naturalisation as a British citizen.  A naturalisation application to become British is not the same as applying for a British passport – you must submit your naturalisation application to become British before you can get your passport. Children may be able to register as British citizens, but they cannot naturalise. 

Become a British Citizen by Naturalisation

In order to successfully apply to naturalise as a British citizen, you need to meet the requirements, which are found in the British Nationality Act 1981.   

If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, in an application for naturalisation as a British citizen you must show that you meet all of the requirements of a citizenship application. 

The requirements are that:  

  • You were in the UK on the day five years before the date you submit your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the previous five year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during the previous five 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 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 are a person of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of language and life in the UK;
  • Your intentions are that, if your application is successful, your home (or principal home) will be in the UK;
  • You have suitable two referees for your British citizenship application.

To discuss your application for Naturalisation as a British citizen with one of our immigration barristers, contact our nationality lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

Apply for British Citizenship if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, the relevant period of residence is not five years, but is instead three years.  Also, there is an important difference in when you can apply – if your spouse/civil partner is British, you do not have to wait for 12 months after obtaining indefinite leave to remain / permanent residence – you can apply immediately after obtaining your settled status.

In an application for naturalisation as the spouse/civil partner of a British citizen, you must satisfy the Home Office that:

  • You were in the UK on the day three years before the date you submit your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the previous three year period; 
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that previous three 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.

What else do I need to know about British Citizenship by Naturalisation?

The Secretary of State has a discretion to treat applicants as meeting some of the requirements for British Citizenship even where those requirements are not met. This can include excess absences and there is guidance about when it is appropriate for such discretion to be exercised. 

The Secretary of State has a discretion to waive the language and life in the UK requirements on grounds of the applicant’s age, physical or mental condition.

The Secretary of State has no discretion to waive, or to treat applicants as meeting, the following requirements:

  • To have been in the UK at the start of the three or five year qualifying period (unless you are/were a member of the armed forces /overseas on Crown service / a family member of such a person);
  • To be free of any restriction on the period you may stay in the UK (i.e. to have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK or to have acquired a right of permanent residence).

Applications for British Citizenship by EEA nationals and their family members

Since 2015 it has been necessary for EEA national applicants and their family members seeking to rely on having acquired a right of permanent residence to have obtained a Document Certifying Permanent Residence or a Permanent Residence Card as appropriate before applying for naturalisation as a British citizen.  With the introduction of the ‘Settled Status’ scheme, this too is now a way to show there is no restriction on immigration status. 

However, being granted settled status does not confirm that you were not in breach of immigration rules in the preceding 5 (or 3) years as it does not require evidence of the EEA national’s exercise of Treaty rights to be submitted.  The question of whether such residence is actually in accordance with immigration law will need to be addressed in applications.  

As there is no statutory definition of ‘good character’, the Home Office approach is to decide applications according to their own published policy. It is essential for this matter to be considered fully in relation to the decade prior to application.  It is also worth bearing in mind the ‘good character’ requirements when deciding whether to apply for permanent residence or settled status if you have both options. Permanent residence can be backdated, but settled status cannot. 

If your application for naturalisation as a British citizen is successful, you will have to attend a citizenship ceremony and thereafter will be able to apply for a British passport. 

Contact our Naturalisation and British Citizenship Lawyers 

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application for British citizenship, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via 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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