Personal Immigration

Naturalisation: Residence Requirements

The British Nationality Act 1981 allows for British citizenship to be acquired through naturalisation:

Acquisition by naturalisation

(1) If, on an application for naturalisation as a British citizen made by a person of full age and capacity, the Secretary of State is satisfied that the applicant fulfils the requirements of Schedule 1 for naturalisation as such a citizen under this subsection, he may, if he thinks fit, grant to him a certificate of naturalisation as such a citizen.

(2) If, on an application for naturalisation as a British citizen made by a person of full age and capacity who on the date of the application is married to a British citizen, or is the civil partner of a British citizen the Secretary of State is satisfied that the applicant fulfils the requirements of Schedule 1 for naturalisation as such a citizen under this subsection, he may, if he thinks fit, grant to him a certificate of naturalisation as such a citizen.

Different rules apply to persons who are not married to/the civil partner of British citizens (s.6(1) applications) and persons who are married to/the civil partner of British citizens (s.6(2) applications).

In relation to the residence requirement in Schedule 1, s.6(1) applications are considered over a 5 year period:

An applicant for naturalisation as a British citizen who is not married to/the civil partner of a British citizen must have:

  • lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of application (and been physically present in the UK on that date);
  • spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years;
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months;
  • been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (or permanent residence if an EEA national);
  • had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months (or permanent residence if an EEA national);
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK.

In relation to the residence requirement in Schedule 1, s.6(2) applications are considered over a 3 year period:

An applicant for naturalisation as a British citizen who is married to/the civil partner of a British citizen must have:

  • lived in the UK for at least the 3 years before the date of application (and been physically present on that date);
  • spent no more than 270 days outside the UK during those 3 years;
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months;
  • been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (or permanent residence if an EEA national);
  • had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months (or permanent residence if an EEA national);
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK.

However, for both s.6(1) and s.6(2) applications, there is some discretion to the residence requirement over the qualifying period. Absences of up to 480 days are normally disregarded for s.6(1) applications, while absences of up to 300 days are normally disregarded for s.6(2) applications.

There is further discretion if all other requirements for naturalisation are met and the applicant has “established [their] home, family and a substantial part of [their] estate here”.

For s.6(1) applications, longer absences may be waived as follows:

  • Up to 730 days in the qualifying 5 year period for s.6(1) applications where the applicant has resided in the UK for 7 years;
  • Up to 900 days in the qualifying 5 year period for s.6(1) applications where the applicant has resided in the UK for 8 years, or the absences are due to:
    • a posting abroad in Crown service;
    • an unavoidable consequence of work;

For s.6(2) applications, longer absences may be waived as follows:

  • Up to 450 days in the qualifying 3 year period for s.6(2) applications where the applicant has resided in the UK for 4 years;
  • Up to 540 days in the qualifying 3 year period for s.6(2) applications where the applicant has resided in the UK for 5 years, or the absences are due to:
    • a posting abroad in Crown service;
    • an unavoidable consequence of work;
    • or there are exceptional or compelling reasons.

Contact Us

If you would like further advice regarding the residence requirements and other requirements for naturalisation as a British citizen, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or by email to info@richmondchambers.com

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