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Can I Apply for British Citizenship Straight After ILR?

Can I Apply for British Citizenship Straight After ILR?

Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settled status which is available to those who have spent a certain period of time living in the UK, and is a key step towards British citizenship by naturalisation.

In this post, we explain whether you can apply for British citizenship straight after ILR.

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British Citizenship After ILR

Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of settled status which enables someone to live in the UK without any immigration restrictions imposed on them. Whilst those who hold ILR can stay in the UK without any time limit, they are not afforded the same benefits as a British citizen.

That being said, Indefinite Leave to Remain is often seen as the key steppingstone towards British citizenship. In fact, you must hold ILR to be eligible for British citizenship by naturalisation. Ordinarily, you can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation after you have lived in the UK for one year under Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What are the Residency Rules Around Indefinite Leave to Remain?

If you want to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, you must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain status. One of the main requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain is that you must have spent a certain period of time living in the UK, which is typically five years.

During your qualifying residency period, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in a 12-month period, unless there were serious and exceptional circumstances which prevented you from returning to the UK.

Time spent under many different UK visas/immigration permissions contribute towards the continuous period of residency in the UK.

This includes:

During your qualifying residency period, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in a 12-month period, unless there were serious and exceptional circumstances which prevented you from returning to the UK.

As well as the minimum residency period, you will need to meet other requirements for ILR status.

Can I Apply for British Citizenship Straight After ILR?

There is only one circumstance under which you can apply for British citizenship straight after ILR. If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for UK citizenship by naturalisation as soon as you are granted with ILR.

If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you will need to wait at least twelve months before you can apply for citizenship through this route.

Ordinarily, an overseas national will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after they have spent five years living in the UK. This includes those who have been living in the UK under one of the work visas, an Ancestry Visa and a Spouse Visa.

This means that most people who are seeking British citizenship by naturalisation must have lived in the UK for a total of six years, which includes one year of ILR status.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Those who have been living in the UK under an Innovator Visa can apply for ILR after three years of UK residency, provided their circumstances haven’t changed significantly.

And those who have been living in the UK under an Investor Visa can apply for settled status after three years of residency, or even two years, depending on their level of business activity.

Also, a child under the age of 18 who has a parent who holds ILR status can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain immediately.

Meeting Requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation After ILR

If you want to become a British citizen, you must meet other conditions in addition to holding ILR.

The requirements differ somewhat depending on whether you have immediately applied for British citizenship after ILR as the spouse/civil partner of a British citizen, or if you are applying through the standard naturalisation route.

The standard requirements for British citizenship by naturalisation are:

  • Must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during your UK residency
  • Must not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12-month period immediately prior to your application
  • Must not have been in breach of any laws and immigration conditions during your time in the UK
  • Must be of ‘good character’
  • Must be able to demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
  • Must genuinely intend to make the UK your permanent home

Requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation as a Spouse

As mentioned, you can apply for UK citizenship by naturalisation as soon as you have ILR status if you are married to/in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

The rules for citizenship if you apply immediately after ILR differ somewhat in comparison to the standard citizenship by naturalisation route. One of the main differences is that it is possible to be in the UK for just three years before you apply for British citizenship as the spouse of a British citizen.

The main requirements are as follows:

  • You must have been in the UK on the date immediately three years prior to your application date
  • You must not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the three-year residency
  • You must not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 months immediately prior to your application
  • You must not have been in breach of any UK law and your immigration conditions during the three year period
  • Must meet the ‘good character’ requirement
  • Must be able to demonstrate a sufficient level of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic

What is the Difference Between Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship?

Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship share similarities. For instance, both British citizens and those holding ILR status can live in the UK without any time limit restrictions imposed on them. However, there are some significant differences.

Firstly, ILR holders cannot apply for a British passport. This means that when travelling abroad, they will not be afforded the same rights as a British citizen. Holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain will have their ILR status revoked if they spend a continuous period of more than two years outside of the UK. On the other hand, British citizens are not subject to these rules.

As a British citizen, you can, of course, enjoy the full benefits of British citizenship too. This includes the right to vote in local elections, General Elections, mayoral elections and referenda. As a British citizen, your status can open up routes towards UK citizenship for your immediate family members too, including your children.

How to Apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation

If you want to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation, our expert immigration lawyers can help. With a wealth of experience in the complex field of UK immigration law, we can help you to formulate your application to the very highest standards, maximising your chances of success.

We will help you to prepare all your necessary documentation to prove your eligibility for citizenship, and will ensure that it adheres to all necessary administrative standards.

Once your application has been submitted, we will liaise with the Home Office throughout the processing period, ensuring your application gets the attention it deserves.

To find out more about how we can help you to become a British citizen, please call us now on 0121 667 6530.