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What is the difference between naturalisation and citizenship?

What is the difference between naturalisation and citizenship? Our guide shows the process of securing the right of abode to live in the UK without immigration restrictions.

Contact our team of Birmingham immigration lawyers today for help with your naturalisation process, get in touch with us today on 0121 667 6530



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Naturalisation or citizenship?

To live in the UK completely free of immigration restrictions is termed the “right to abode”. There will be no time limit on the amount of time you can stay in the UK or the time you spend outside of the country. All British citizens have the right to abode.

You could be a British citizen by birth in the UK if at least one of your parents was a British or Irish citizen. You could also be a British citizen by birth or automatically in some of these following examples:

  • You were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court
  • At least one of your parents was a citizen of an EU/EEA country, lived in the UK and had indefinite leave to remain or right of abode
  • Your parents were not British, Irish or from an EU or EEA country but were living in the UK and had either ILR or right of abode.

There are also other types of British nationality that mean you are a British citizen and you can then register for citizenship, for example:

  • If you were born in a British overseas territory or
  • you were born in a British colony before 1983

You can check if you are already a citizen on the government website. However, if you’re not automatically a British citizen, you can become one through the process of naturalisation. Being a citizen is a status, while naturalisation is a legal process to acquire it!

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How can I apply to become a British citizen by naturalisation?

If you are 18 years of age or older, you may be able to begin the process of naturalisation to apply for British citizenship. You must have lived in the UK for at least five years and have held indefinite leave to remain, or settled status, for at least 12 months to be eligible.

You can apply online using Form AN. There are many requirements you will need to fulfill and documents to submit for evidence. Your biometric details, fingerprints and photographs, will also need to be taken at a UK Visa Centre.

The online form has many sections that all need feeling in completely and accurately. Here is where having the support of an immigration lawyer can really help, to ensure there are no inconsistencies or mistakes.

You will also need to provide two referees for your application, and have them prepared ahead of time. They will both need to vouch that all of the information contained in your application is true, and sign your form. Your referees must:

  • Have known you for at least three years
  • Be in a professional role (at least one referee)
  • Be of British nationality and hold a British passport (at least one referee)
  • Be at least 25 years old

You will usually get a decision within six months, depending on how complicated or not your case is and how much documentary evidence you submit.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The Home Office is stringent when accepting British citizenship applications via naturalisation. There are many eligibility requirements to meet, such as:

  • You must be 18 years old or over
  • You must have lived in the UK for at least five years
  • You must have held indefinite leave to remain, or settled status in the UK for at least 12 months
  • Proof of English language at B1 level
  • Pass the Life in the UK test
  • Be of “good character”
  • No absences longer than 90 days in any given year of residency

The good character requirement specifically means you must not have broken any immigration rules or have any recent or severe criminal convictions. Any convictions must be recorded and accounted for on your application. The Home Office will also account for “good works” you have also undertaken, in how you have shown positive contributions to your community.


Can I apply as a spouse or civil partner of a British citizen?

Yes you can. If you are applying as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen or settled person, you will also be required to prove your relationship, for example show evidence you live together and bank statements showing shared finances. You can apply after three years of residence instead. However, you must also hold indefinite leave to remain or settled status, which still requires five years of residence to be eligible.

Do you need help applying for a Skilled Worker Visa? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

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What documents will I be required to submit? 

Documentary evidence is crucial to the success of a British citizenship application; having just the right amount, with no important information is key to succeeding with the Home Office. The following list is not exhaustive – you are highly recommended to seek legal advice for your specific circumstances to check the evidence you will need to submit.

  • Proof of identity – your passport or travel document, drivers license or other approved identity card
  • Proof of indefinite leave to remain status or settled status – via a letter from the Home Office or vignette sticker in your passport
  • Documents to prove your residency in the UK for at least five years – tenancy agreements, mortgage statements, bank statements, pay slips, letter from your employer
  • Pass certificates from Life in the UK test and English language tests, if you are not exempt
  • Proof of your previous immigration status
  • Travel documents to evidence any absences you have taken from the UK

Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you apply for British citizenship

Acquiring British citizenship can often be the last step on a long journey of immigrating to the UK to live without any immigration restrictions with full residency rights.

As our immigration guide has shown, there are many ways you can register for or apply for British citizenship, whether by naturalisation, by birth or descent. The application process can be long and gruelling, and our immigration lawyers in Birmingham are here to help guide and support you, with the highest standard of immigration advice.

When making such an important application, all advice and processes should be as tailored as possible, to ensure a positive outcome. Our lawyers are here for you remotely, whether online or over the phone, so get in touch with us today.
Call our team on 0121 667 6530 or fill in our contact form at the top of the page for a call back to discuss your immigration query.

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