- What is British Citizenship?
- Who can apply for Citizenship?
- ‘Good character’ requirement
- Routes to British Citizenship
- Documents required
- Language requirement & Life in the UK Test
- British Citizenship by Birth
- British Citizenship by Descent
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Family members
- When can I apply?
- How to apply
- What is Application Form AN?
- Referee to support application
- What is Naturalisation?
- Citizenship ceremony
- Dual Citizenship
- Renouncing Citizenship
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to get British Citizenship
Being granted British citizenship is not an easy task. There are multiple types of documents that you must submit, and there are strict eligibility criteria.
To be granted citizenship, follow the below steps:
- You must be over 18 years old
- You must prove that you have a clean immigration record and be ‘of good character’
- You must be resident in the UK
- You must pass a test or demonstrate you meet the required English language skills
- You must pass the Life in the UK test
- You must have proof of the continuous residence requirement (at least five years)
- You must show that you have not been out of the UK for more than 90 days in the last year
- You must submit an application via the Gov.uk citizenship application page or alternatively, by post
- You must provide your biometric information either via app or in-person
- You must pay the application fee (£1,330) and associated costs
- Wait for a decision on your application
- Attend your citizenship ceremony
Our team of immigration experts in Birmingham have extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to securing British citizenship for our clients. We understand what makes a strong application and which errors to avoid.
As a British citizen, you will be eligible to work, live and study in the UK indefinitely. You will also be able to access public funds as well as have the opportunity to leave the UK for an unlimited amount of time.
If you would like to apply for naturalisation, get in touch with our friendly and professional advisers to find out more about how we can assist you. Call 0121 667 6530 or use the online form to receive a callback from one of our team.
What is British Citizenship?
British citizenship is often considered the final step towards permanent settlement in the UK.
Having this status allows you to apply for a British passport and gives you the full rights of a UK citizen. It provides the freedom to enter and exit the UK without being subjected to immigration control.
Owning a British passport also grants access to a number of countries across the globe without requiring a visa.
Additionally, gaining UK naturalisation gives you the right to vote in elections and referendums and stand for public office.
Who Can Apply For British Citizenship?
Those who wish to apply for citizenship through naturalisation must first meet the eligibility criteria:
- You must be aged 18 or above
- You must have passed the Life in the UK Test
- You must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement) status for 12 months
- You must meet the residency requirements: You must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in any 12 month period. Additionally, you must have been a continuous resident for at least 5 years, with no more than 450 days spent outside the UK during that time
- You must satisfy the B1 CEFR English language requirements (unless exempt)
- You must be ‘of good character’
What does it mean to be of 'good character'?
A key requirement for people who wish to submit their British citizenship registration is to be “of good character.”
You must prove that you will be a law-abiding, upstanding member of British society. This means that your criminal history will be examined and you must not hold a recent or severe criminal record.
This applies to offences committed both overseas and/or in relation to violating immigration rules.
The ‘good character’ requirement is a very important element of your application and previous criminal offences may result in your application being rejected.
The requirement applies to anyone over the age of 10 who applies for either registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
However, as well as evaluating any past criminal convictions or breaches of immigration laws, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will also consider positive contributions to society.
This includes good behaviour such as charity work and those who have served in the armed forces.
Routes to British Citizenship
There is not one set path to securing British Citizenship, it depends entirely on your personal circumstances. The most common, however, is British Citizenship through naturalisation.
- British Citizenship by Birth/Descent: This is for those who were born in the UK after 1983, as it is no longer automatically granted upon birth. It depends on the circumstances of both you and your parents. However, the majority of those born in the UK will have British citizenship.
- British Citizenship by Marriage: This is for those who are married to a British citizen, however to qualify for citizenship via this route, you must have spent at least three years in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status.
- British Citizenship by Naturalisation: This is for those who have settled in the UK for a period of at least three years (but in most cases five years) and who have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (non-EU/EEA nationals) or Permanent Residence Status (EU nationals) for at least 12 months.
These are the key routes to British citizenship – which route you take is dependent on factors such as your ancestry, place of birth, the nationality of your partner, and your time spent in the UK. To determine which route you ought to take, our team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham are here to assist via telephone, Skype/video call, in person and online. Call us today on 0121 667 6530.
What documents do I need?
Once you have met the eligibility criteria, you must be able to provide the relevant documentation to support your citizenship application.
Some key documents are:
- Proof of your identity: This can take the form of your passport, birth certificate, national identity card, driving licence or other specific travel documents
- Life in the UK Test confirmation letter
- UKVI-approved qualification in English: This must be at B1 CEFR or higher, proving that you meet the English language requirement
- Confirmation of lawful residence: Showing that you were lawfully resident in the UK during the qualifying period
- Proof of Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status: Your passport which shows permission to remain permanently in the UK and a letter from UKVI
- Proof of your previous immigration status: Including prior to settling in the UK)
- Any additional travel details: Which may account for absences outside the UK
- Proof that you have been exercising your Treaty Rights: This may have been in the last 3 or 5 years (if you are an EU national). This may take the form of bank statements, confirmation of employment or confirmation of studies from your educational institution.
English language test and Life in the UK Test
What English test is needed for British citizenship?
You must provide a certificate that demonstrates that you have an English language qualification of at least Level B1 on the CEFR scale. You may take one of the UKVI- approved Secure English Language Tests (e.g., the IELTS for UKVI exam).
Those who have already passed the test under their settled status do not need to re-sit the exam, however, you must present your certificate within your application.
Life in the UK Test
The test consists of 24 questions that aim to assess the individual’s understanding of British values, customs, traditions, and history. The test can be taken in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
Fortunately, the test only needs to be passed once, and a successful result is valid for life.
Am I eligible for British Citizenship by Birth?
Since 1983, citizenship is no longer automatically granted to those born in the UK.
To be granted British citizenship by birth, children must have at least one parent living in the UK who is either a British national or holds settled status.
This means that UK-born children who have non-British parents will be classed as dependants and will be subject to immigration controls.
It is possible for children born in Britain to non-British parents to acquire citizenship via a different route once they have qualified. However, they will not be eligible to acquire British citizenship by birth.
What are the requirements for British Citizenship by Descent?
British Citizenship by Descent applies to those who were born outside the UK to parents (either one or both of them) who were British citizens at the time of birth. Those with Citizenship by Descent are not able to automatically pass on citizenship to their child if they are also born outside the UK.
If you were born outside the UK on or after 1st July 2006 to a parent who was a British citizen at the time of your birth and had the right to pass on their citizenship to you, you will automatically be a British citizen.
However, for your British parent to be able to pass on citizenship to you, they must have either been born/adopted in the UK or have acquired citizenship after applying for it themselves
Alternatively, they must have been working as a Crown servant at the time of your birth.
What is the difference between Citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
The primary differences between citizenship and ILR include:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) allows you to live and work in the UK without visa restrictions
- if you spend over two years outside of the United Kingdom whilst holding ILR, you may have your settled status revoked
- Citizenship is very rarely revoked and you have the right to work, live, enter and exit the UK freely forever
- Citizenship also gives you the right to vote in elections and referendums
- Citizenship gives you access to a British passport
How Soon After Being Granted Indefinite Leave To Remain Can I Apply For British Citizenship?
Generally, you’re eligible for British citizenship if you’ve had Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK for a minimum of one year.
This also applies to those with Indefinite Leave to Enter and EU and EEA citizens with settled status for a specified period.
However, if you’re married to a British national, you can seek Naturalisation right after acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain. During the one-year eligibility period, you must not be absent from the UK for over 90 days.
You might need to account for any previous absences when you apply. If you possess Indefinite Leave to Remain but are out of the UK for over two years, you’ll lose this status and must spend additional qualifying time in the UK to become a British national.
For EU citizens with settled status, leaving the UK for more than five years will result in the loss of your right to settle. To regain your status, a new application is necessary.
When Can I Apply For British Citizenship?
If you want to apply for UK Citizenship, you must have first acquired settlement in the UK (Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), Permanent Residence or Settled Status).
You must have held settled status for at least 12 months before being eligible to apply for citizenship, unless you are married to a British national. In this case, it is possible to naturalise as soon as ILR is obtained.
If you have spent more than 90 days outside of the UK during the 12-month qualifying period, you will not be granted citizenship. Similarly, if you are an EU citizen who holds Settled Status, you will not be eligible to naturalise as a British Citizen if you have spent more than five years abroad.
Those with ILR will not be able to acquire nationality if they have spent more than two years outside of the UK.
You will be required to provide details of any absences from the UK within your application.
What does it mean to Naturalise as a British Citizen?
Naturalisation is simply the name given to the process when non-citizens acquire citizenship.
To apply for UK naturalisation, you must be over the age of 18 to apply and hold settled status for 12 months.
It also applies to those who are married to a British citizen and wish to become British citizens themselves. Those with a British spouse are eligible to apply for Naturalisation after three years of continuous residence as a settled person.
To naturalise as a UK citizen, you must submit Form AN to UKVI, as well as all your supporting documentation showing your eligibility.
Failure to provide any of these documents might result in an unsuccessful application.
Another reason your application may be refused is if you have spent too much time outside of the UK within a specific timeframe (more than 90 days outside of the UK in the final year of your qualifying period)
Once you have completed and submitted your application for Naturalisation to the Home Office, it usually takes between three and six months to be processed.
What Is The British Citizenship Ceremony
If your citizenship application is successful, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony.
Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, all applicants over 18 years of age who are accepted as naturalised citizens in the UK must attend a Citizenship ceremony.
You must book your ceremony within three months of the date of receiving your invitation from the Home Office.
When you attend your ceremony, you must bring both written confirmation from the Register Office and your Home Office letter of invitation.
During the ceremony, you will take an Oath of Allegiance and pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom.
After this, you will receive your British nationality certificate and information on your new status and rights as a British citizen.
For those living outside of the UK, you may ask the embassy or consulate in your country of residence to hold your ceremony there.
As a British Citizen, can I hold dual citizenship?
Under UK immigration rules, you can hold dual nationality, meaning that you are not obliged to renounce any other citizenship.
UK law also permits multiple citizenships meaning that it is in fact possible to acquire UK nationality even if you already hold dual citizenship.
From the UK’s perspective, you can acquire dual nationality without having to apply for this separately. You can simply apply for foreign citizenship while maintaining your UK citizenship. However, the same rule may not apply to other nations.
You can find out whether a particular country allows for you to retain citizenship by contacting the country’s embassy or consulate.
A key condition of dual nationality in the UK is that once you have been granted citizenship of a different country, you cannot receive any diplomatic assistance whilst in a different nation whereby you hold permanent residence.
Another important condition to consider is that if you apply to become a citizen of a country that does not allow dual citizenship, you will be required to give up your status as a British citizen.
You should inform the country from which you first obtained nationality that you intend to apply for citizenship in a different country.
Can I renounce my British citizenship?
You can renounce your status as a British national if you wish. This is an option if you wish to apply for the nationality of a country that does not permit dual citizenship.
However, you should note that it is not necessary to renounce your citizenship if you are applying to become a national of a country that allows dual citizenship.
Applying to renounce your British nationality will have no impact on the nationality of your family members. However, it may affect the status of any future children you may have.
You are only eligible to renounce your status as a British national if:
- You already have another citizenship/nationality
- You are going to acquire another citizenship or nationality after renouncing your citizenship
- You are over the age of 18
- You meet the ‘sound mind’ requirement
If your application for the renouncement of your status in the UK is accepted, you will receive a ‘Declaration of Renunciation’. This certificate can then be used as evidence that you are no longer a citizen of the United Kingdom.
After you have renounced your nationality, it may be possible for you to apply for the resumption of your status if you change your mind in the future.
Can I pass on my citizenship to my spouse and child?
There are some circumstances where you are cannot automatically pass on UK citizenship to your child. For example, if you have acquired citizenship by descent.
The rules surrounding citizenship by descent are extremely complex and change depending on when you were born.
Your spouse may be eligible to qualify for Citizenship through Marriage, but they must meet all the criteria and specific requirements.
For example, they must have lived in the UK for at least three years before applying for citizenship through marriage, and must have secured settled status.
Our Birmingham Immigration Law Firm Can Help You With Your Citizenship
Our Birmingham based lawyers are here to help with every stage of your immigration case. If you need advice or help with your British Citizenship application, our experienced team can help you.
Using a lawyer to help with your application can increase the chances of having your application approved.
To find out more about how we can support you, call our client legal team today on 0121 667 6530.
Last modified on November 24th, 2023 at 10:59 am
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Once you have submitted your application and paid the British citizenship application fee, you can expect to receive a decision within six months.
However, if your application for citizenship is complex, it may take longer, depending on your personal circumstances and the intricacies of your case.
At present, you cannot fast-track the citizenship process.
Individuals born before 1st January 1983 who meet the following criteria are considered British Overseas Territories citizens:
- Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies on the 31st December 1982
- Individuals with connections to a British overseas territory due to the fact that they, their parents, or grandparents were born, registered, or naturalised in that territory
Individuals born on or after 1st January 1983 who meet the following criteria are also considered citizens of an overseas territory:
- Individuals born in an overseas territory
- Individuals with a parent who was a British overseas territory citizen or legally settled in a British overseas territory
These citizens have the right to hold a British passport and stay in the UK or live in the UK.
The British Nationality Act 1981 is the current system that outlines the categories of UK citizenship and nationality and forms the basis of some immigration laws.
There are six tiers of nationality, including:
- British citizens
- British Overseas citizens
- British Nationals (Overseas)
- British Overseas Territories citizens
- British subjects
- British protected persons
According to the British Nationality Act 1981, the only category of individuals entitled to citizenship include British citizens and some Commonwealth citizens.
While it is possible for refugees to become a British citizen, there is a specific route that must be taken to do so.
There are three specific stages of this route for refugees, which is explained in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2009.
These stages are as follows:
- Temporary Residence Status: You can acquire this once you are granted asylum status in the UK; it must be held for five years before applying for citizenship
- Probationary Citizenship: You can acquire this status by passing an Active Review. In order to pass the Active Review, it is essential for applicants to have passed the Life in the UK Test, to have a continued need for protection and to not hold a criminal record
- Permanent Residence status
When you submit Form AN, your application is typically processed within three to six months of the Home Office receiving it.
However, for a number of reasons such as the complexity of your case and the current number of application requests received by the Home Office, you may find that your application takes longer than the expected waiting time.
Currently, there is no way to track the status of your application to become a British national online. However, you can contact the UKVI either via email or telephone and they will be able to provide information regarding your particular application and its status.
Since you do not have to provide your passport as part of your application, you are free to leave and re-enter the country throughout the application process. You are not obliged to remain in the UK throughout this time.
In most cases, British citizenship is passed down from one generation to the next, including for children born outside the UK.
If you were born outside the UK and at least one of your parents was a British citizen, you will likely qualify for citizenship.
Due to changes in the immigration rules, you can check your child’s eligibility for citizenship based on when they were born. This includes:
If you are a British citizen and your child was born abroad, they may be likely to qualify for citizenship. However, your children’s children may not be eligible for citizenship if they are born outside the UK.
Currently there is are a number of mandatory British citizenship fees that must be paid. These include:
- Application fee: £1,330
- Life in the UK test: £50
- English language test: up to £150
- Certified document translation: up to £200
- Applying for a British passport: £75.50
- Certificate of entitlement (right of abode): £372
Depending on your circumstances, you may not have to pay all of these fees, or there may be additional ones.