- Marriage to a British national & UK citizenship
- Requirements for British citizenship by marriage
- How do I apply for British citizenship by marriage?
- Do I need settled status before applying?
- What is the ‘Good Character’ requirement?
- What are the residency requirements?
- Who can be a British citizenship referee?
- What to do if your application is refused
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is British Citizenship by Marriage?
If you are married to – or in a civil partnership with – a British citizen, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British national.
This route to citizenship is specifically for those who wish to settle in the UK with their British spouse/civil partner.
As a British national, you will be granted the right to live and work in the UK free from immigration controls and restrictions. However, it is important to note that those who wish to apply for UK citizenship by marriage must have already acquired settled status in the UK, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
You must not apply for citizenship prior to having acquired ILR, as your application will be rejected. You must have lived in the UK with settled status for at least three years before submitting your British citizenship application.
Our immigration lawyers in Birmingham are equipped with extensive knowledge and invaluable experience relating to immigration and nationality law. This includes UK citizenship by marriage.
If you require professional, tailored legal advice or help with the completion of your application, our team of OISC accredited immigration experts are here to assist.
Contact us today on 0121 667 6530.
Do I automatically acquire British citizenship if I marry a British national?
No, you are not automatically entitled to British citizenship through marriage. Being married to a British citizen does not grant you an automatic right to citizenship, however you may qualify for naturalisation in the UK as a result of your marriage to a British citizen.
What this means is that you must first establish whether you are eligible to follow the naturalisation route to citizenship in the UK.
One benefit of applying for citizenship through marriage, however, is that you are able to apply for British nationality after just three years if you hold a Spouse Visa and have acquired permanent residence in the UK.
The standard requirement for those who wish to apply for citizenship is that they have spent a qualifying period of at least five years residency in the UK, therefore those who hold a UK Spouse Visa are able to apply for citizenship prior to other applicants.
What are the requirements for British citizenship by marriage?
If you are applying for British citizenship to settle with your British spouse/civil partner, you must demonstrate that you satisfy all requirements. To be eligible for UK citizenship through marriage, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Prove that you are of ‘good character’
- Have lived for at least 3 years in the UK
- Have been granted settled status in the form of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- Prove that you have adequate knowledge of the English language by passing an accredited exam
- Pass the Life in the UK test to show your knowledge and commitment to British customs and values
Our immigration lawyers in Birmingham will determine your eligibility before proceeding with your British citizenship application.
How do I apply for British citizenship by marriage?
Applying for British citizenship through marriage requires the applicant to submit Form AN to the Home Office, along with the relevant and adequate supporting documentation.
When filling out Form AN, you will be required to provide your personal details including your biographical data, proof of residency requirement, and employment information.
Once you have submitted this form and paid the necessary application fees, you must book an appointment at your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS).
Here, you will provide your biometric data by having your fingerprints and photograph taken. You are also able to scan and submit a copy of your paperwork.
For detailed guidance or complete practical assistance with your application for UK citizenship by marriage, our team of immigration specialists are here to assist.
We can complete and submit your application to the Home Office on your behalf, along with a Letter of Representation which details the key strengths of your case, emphasising why you ought to be accepted for citizenship in the UK.
To enquire, contact our client care team on 0121 667 6530.
Do I need settled status before applying for citizenship in the UK?
Yes, a key condition of qualifying for British citizenship is that you have already acquired settled status in the UK and have held this for at least five years prior to your nationality application (or three years for those with a Spouse Visa).
This means those applying for British citizenship through marriage must have lived in the UK for a qualifying period of at least three years before submitting their application for citizenship.
Most importantly, however, you must have obtained settled status. Holding Indefinite Leave to Remain is mandatory in order to proceed with a British citizenship application.
ILR signifies that the applicant has permanent residence in the UK without any limit to their stay.
The required UK settlement can take the form of either Indefinite Leave to Remain, EU Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Enter (permission to move to the UK permanently from abroad).
Within your application, you must provide proof that you have fulfilled the residency requirement through demonstrating your permanent residence.
So it is important to note that while the spouse of a British citizen only needs three years of residency to qualify for naturalisation, they must also hold Indefinite Leave to Remain. The earliest spouses/civil partners can qualify for ILR is after five years.
What is the 'Good Character' requirement?
It is essential that you meet the ‘good character’ requirement to qualify for any naturalisation route in the UK, including those married to a British citizen.
Anybody over the age of 10 years old must meet this requirement to be eligible for UK citizenship.
To satisfy this criteria, you must prove within your application that you:
- Have shown compliance and respect for UK law since entering the country
- Do not have a severe or recent criminal record
- Have not been found guilty of an immigration offence within the past ten years and did not enter the UK illegally
As well as taking into account the above factors which the Home Office considers evidence of ‘bad character’, the Home Office will also assess further aspects which prove that you are of good character.
These include the likes of:
- Financial soundness
- Good behaviour such as charity work, service in the armed forces etc.
For further assistance with your British citizenship by marriage application, contact our OISC accredited immigration lawyers in Birmingham on 0121 667 6530.
What are the residency requirements for British citizenship by marriage?
As previously mentioned, it is crucial that you have spent the necessary qualifying time period in the UK before embarking on your application for British nationality.
If you apply for citizenship too early, your application will be rejected by the Home Office. It is therefore essential that you ensure you have accrued the necessary period of residency while holding Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK prior to submitting an application. However, it is also important to note that you must not have spent too many days outside the UK in the time prior to submitting your application.
The residency requirement also outlines that you must not have:
- Spent over 270 days outside the UK during the three year qualifying period prior to your application
- Spent over 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months before you submit your paperwork
In addition to this, you must not have breached any UK immigration law during your residency in the UK. This will jeopardise your application. One key benefit for the spouse/civil partner of a British citizen who is applying to naturalise in the UK through marriage is that only absences from the last 3 years will be counted towards your number of absences from the UK.
This is convenient for applicants who may have had a substantial amount of absences from the UK four or five years ago but have not had absences exceeding 270 days within the last three years.
Who can be a British citizenship referee?
Who can be a referee:
- Professional Individuals: Referees are often required to be professional individuals who hold specific positions. These positions might include teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, civil servants (at a certain level), police officers, and more. Generally, they should be in a recognised and responsible profession.
- British Citizens: Referees must typically be British citizens. Sometimes, Commonwealth citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK or settled status might also be acceptable.
- Personal Acquaintances: Referees should have known the applicant personally for a certain period of time, often at least two years. They should be able to confirm the applicant’s character, identity, and suitability for citizenship.
Who cannot be a referee:
- Family Members: Close family members such as parents, siblings, spouses, and children are usually not acceptable as referees.
- Close Friends: Referees should not be individuals who are considered close friends of the applicant.
- Colleagues: While colleagues can be professional individuals, they might not be considered as reliable referees due to the potential for conflicts of interest or lack of personal knowledge about the applicant.
- Individuals of Unsound Character: Individuals who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses or who have a history of dishonesty might not be suitable as referees.
What to do if your application is refused
If your British citizenship through marriage application is refused, it can be quite disheartening. However, there are steps you can take to address the situation. Here’s a general outline of what you can do:
- Review the Rejection Letter: Carefully read the rejection letter you received from the Home Office. This letter should outline the reasons for the refusal. Understanding these reasons is crucial for your next steps.
- Seek Legal Advice: If you believe the decision was unjust or you’re unsure about the reasons for the refusal, consider seeking legal advice from an immigration lawyer or advisor. Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you understand your options and guide you on the best course of action.
- Appeal the Decision: In some cases, you might have the right to appeal the decision. This typically involves submitting an appeal form along with any necessary documents and evidence that supports your case. The appeal process varies depending on the specific circumstances and the type of application you submitted.
- Reapply: If you’re not eligible to appeal or the appeal is unsuccessful, you might have the option to reapply. It’s essential to address the reasons for the initial refusal in your new application and provide additional evidence to support your eligibility for British citizenship.
- Attend a Citizenship Ceremony (if applicable): If your application is eventually approved, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This is the final step in the process, where you’ll take an oath of allegiance and receive your British citizenship certificate.
Last modified on August 31st, 2023 at 10:05 am
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If your child is born in the UK to at least one parent who is a British citizen or settled person at the time of their birth, they will – in typical circumstances – automatically acquire British citizenship.
However, if your child is born outside of the UK to a parent who is a British citizen, they will still be considered a British citizen by descent but they must register for citizenship.
To register a child who is born outside the UK for British citizenship, at least one of the child’s parents must be a British citizen and have lived in the UK for at least three years prior to the registration.
This process of registration differs significantly to the naturalisation process, therefore you are advised to seek legal advice in the event that your child is born abroad.
Our team of dedicated immigration experts in Birmingham are here to assist with any immigration queries you may have.
For immediate guidance, contact us now on 0121 667 6530.
Those who are married to a British national are able to apply for a British passport only once they have acquired British citizenship and have received their British citizenship certificate.
After naturalising in the UK and obtaining a British passport, you are free to leave and enter the country as often as you please without being subject to immigration restrictions i.e. you do not have to apply for a visa to re-enter the country.
Holding a British passport will allow you to travel freely throughout a number of countries without being required to apply for a visa beforehand. However, you should always check that the country you are travelling to does not require you to apply for pre-clearance/an entry visa.
The cost of a British passport is £75.50 if you apply online and £85 if you apply by paper form.
Adult passports will be valid for a period of ten years before expiring. It can be used as a form of identification to prove that you are a UK citizen and when travelling abroad.
As well as having to meet the ‘good character’ requirement and passing the Life in the UK test, you must also prove to the Home Office that you are of ‘sound mind’ when submitting your application.
This means that you fully understand and are capable of making your own decisions – such as the decision to apply for British citizenship through marriage.
It is important to note that this requirement in no way aims to prevent applications from those with a mental illness/handicap that may affect their ability to communicate.
If you are completing a citizenship application on behalf of somebody who is not of sound mind, you must include a letter stating your position as legal representative of that person along with adequate documentation explaining their mental condition.
You must also explain why acquiring British nationality would be beneficial to the applicant and must include a letter from the applicant’s doctor detailing their condition and who will be taking care of them.
To enquire about any immigration matter, contact our client care team on 0121 667 6530.
The Life in the UK test is a significant aspect of your British citizenship application process no matter which route to naturalisation you are taking.
It applies to all who wish to naturalise as a British citizen, including the spouse/civil partner of a British national.
Therefore, in order to qualify for UK citizenship by marriage, you must first pass the Life in the UK test.
This test aims to demonstrate to the Home Office that the application has a firm grasp and appreciation of British customs, traditions, values and history.
If you have already sat and passed the Life in the UK test when applying for settled status, you do not need to re-take the test when submitting your application for naturalisation.
The test must be booked online via the UK Gov website and costs £50. You will sit the test in one of the 30 test centres in the UK; you are able to choose which test centre you would like to attend when booking online.
The test itself is comprised of 24 questions which you must complete within 45 minutes. These questions will be based on UK traditions and customs; you are able to revise for this test by examining the official handbook for the Life in the UK test.
Only once you have passed the test will you be able to proceed with your application to naturalise in the UK.
If your application for British nationality by marriage – or any other form of naturalisation – is successful, you will be required to attend a British citizenship ceremony.
This is not an optional aspect of the process as it acts as a confirmation of your newly acquired status as a UK national.
You must book your citizenship ceremony within three months of receiving your invitation from the Home Office. The event will be organised by your local council and you are typically entitled to take along two guests.
There is a cost to attend the ceremony, however. It is £80 to attend a group ceremony.
If you are outside the UK during the time period wherein you would be expected to attend your citizenship ceremony, you must contact the embassy or consulate in the country where you are currently living to enquire about holding your citizenship ceremony there.
To begin the first step of your journey to naturalising as a British citizen by marriage, call our team of immigration specialists in Birmingham.
We can assess your personal eligibility, offer professional legal advice tailored to your immigration matter and provide a step-by-step guide.
In addition, we offer a range of other unique services such as completing and submitting immigration applications on your behalf, appealing a decision or assisting those seeking asylum.
For more information, contact us on 0121 667 6530.