A Guide to Applying for British Citizenship by Naturalisation
Those who have spent a certain period of time living in the UK can choose to naturalise as a British citizen, provided they can meet the full requirements for citizenship.
In this guide to naturalisation as a British citizen, we set out all you need to know about the naturalisation process, including the requirements and the application system.
When Can I Apply to Naturalise?
The naturalisation process differs for each individual. In most cases, you must have spent at least six years living in the UK before you can apply for British citizenship. This usually includes one year of living under Indefinite Leave to Remain too.
However, it is possible to apply to naturalise in as little as three or four years in some cases. Those who may be eligible sooner include:
- Investor Visa holders (after 3-6 years)
- Innovator Visa holders (after 4-6 years)
- Those applying for naturalisation as the spouse of a British citizen (after 3 years)
It is important to keep in mind that any time spent in the UK under a short stay immigration permission, such as a Visitor Visa or Student Visa will not count towards minimum residency requirements for British citizenship (or Indefinite Leave to Remain).
Your naturalisation period begins from the day you enter the UK. You must have been in the UK on the exact date from which your naturalisation period began up to the application date.
So, for instance, if you are applying for naturalisation after six years in the UK, you must have been in the UK on the exact date six years prior to your application date.
What are the Other Requirements for British Citizenship?
As well as the minimum residency period requirement, those who wish to naturalise as a British citizen will need to fulfil a number of other requirements. As you might have guessed, it is not enough to have simply lived in the UK for a certain period of time to be eligible for British citizenship.
These citizenship requirements are as follows:
- Must be at least 18-years-old
- Must be able to demonstrate that you are of ‘good character’
- Must not have broken any immigration conditions (or other laws) during your time in the UK
- Must achieve a pass in the Life in the UK test
- Must be able to demonstrate that your English language ability is to at least the level of B1 (unless exempt)
- Must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12-month period directly before your application, and not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK during your whole UK residency period (270 days if applying for citizenship by marriage route)
Those who are applying for British citizenship by marriage after three years must not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during their UK residency.
Those who applied for ILR will have usually passed the Life in the UK test and demonstrated their English language ability at the level of B1. This means that they will have already fulfilled these requirements and will simply need to provide documentary evidence of having met these conditions
Supporting Documents for British Citizenship by Naturalisation
As with all UK visa applications, you will need to provide evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria.
We recommend beginning the process of collating your required information and documents before starting the application form. This is because you might run into problems with sourcing certain information for your documentary evidence.
You can upload your documents on your online account on the Sopra Steria website. Alternatively, you can pay an additional fee to upload your documentary evidence at your appointment at the UKVCAS service point.
You will need to provide the following documents in citizenship applications:
- Proof of identity. This could be your passport, birth certificate, biometric residence permit or driving licence
- Confirmation that you have passed the Life in the UK test (either with your ILR application or before applying for citizenship)
- Confirmation that your English language ability is to at least the level of B1 (unless exempt)
- Proof that you currently hold ILR status
- Proof of your immigration status prior to receiving ILR
- Details of time you have spent outside of the UK during your qualifying period (known as periods of absence)
Any information which is not in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to include both the original and translated versions in your portfolio of evidence.
Guide to Application Process for British Citizenship by Naturalisation
Firstly, it is worth remembering that you must ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria set out above before you apply. Simply put, if you do not meet the eligibility criteria (or cannot prove that you do), you will not be able to become a British citizen.
You can complete the application online, through filling in form (AN), which is the application form for British citizenship by naturalisation.
The next step is paying the application fee, which is currently £1,330. You may also need to pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken if you haven’t done this before whilst you have been in the UK. This costs an additional £19.20.
Usually, you will be asked to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point one you have paid the application fee. You will have a meeting at your appointment where you will receive official confirmation that your application has been received.
It can take up to six months for a citizen application to be processed. If your application is successful, you will be able to enjoy the full benefits of British citizenship. This includes the possibility of applying for a British passport, should you wish.
It might be possible to become a dual citizen, rather than renouncing your current citizenship. The possibility of doing this depends on the rules around dual citizenship of your current country of citizenship.
How Birmingham Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you throughout the application process for British citizenship.
We will pair you with an immigration lawyer who is experienced in UK citizenship applications. They will take the time to understand your circumstances and advise you on the steps towards applying for British citizenship.
They will advise you, and help you source, all the information and documents required for your application and will ensure that it adheres to all necessary Home Office administrative standards.
We will complete your application form, before uploading and submitting your documentary evidence. Your lawyer will also write a letter of representation to accompany your application, highlighting the merits of your case.
Birmingham Immigration Lawyers will liaise with the Home Office throughout the processing stage, and we will keep you informed of your application’s progress, following through until a decision has been reached.
To find out more about our industry-leading application package, please call us now on 0121 667 6530.