Apply for British Citizenship (Naturalisation)

Different routes may lead you to British Citizenship.

The legal process of applying to become a British Citizen is called ‘Naturalisation’.

With British citizenship, you are free to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration controls, apply for a British passport, and vote.

You must provide evidence in your Naturalisation application that you meet the requirements for Naturalisation; otherwise, your application will be rejected, and your application fee won’t be refunded. British Naturalisation applications can be unsuccessful because of incomplete or incorrect documentation, errors in the application forms and a delay in responding to Home Office inquiries.

By seeking professional advice on how to submit your British naturalisation application, you can prevent having it refused.

Requirements for British Naturalisation Application

In order to become a naturalised British citizen, you have to meet a number of legal requirements. If you meet the requirements listed below, you might be eligible for British naturalisation.

  • You are 18 years old or over. 
  • You have held settled status in the UK for at least 12 months at the time of applying, either under Indefinite Leave to Remain or as an EEA national with EU Settled Status or Permanent Residence in the UK, unless you are married to a British Citizen at the time of applying for Naturalisation. If your spouse or partner is British, you can apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen straight after obtaining your ILR or Settled Status.
  • You do not have excessive absences from the UK during the qualifying period. When calculating the number of days absent, the Home Office does not take into account the days that were spent travelling, even if you were present in the UK for a small part of the day.
  • You satisfy the English language requirements and have passed the Life in the UK test. 
  • You are of ‘good character’, do not have a serious or recent criminal record, and have not broken any immigration laws or conditions while in the UK. 
  • You must have held valid and lawful immigration status during the qualifying residency period, 
  • You must intend to make the UK your permanent home.
  • The date of application must be determined carefully by calculating the beginning of your qualifying period.
  • Different requirements for the qualifying period apply for the applicants who have been on Spouse Visa.

5-year Qualifying Period for Naturalisation

If you are not relying on marriage to a British citizen, you must demonstrate evidence of a 5-year lawful continuous residence in the UK.

  • In the 12 months immediately prior to your application, you have not been away from the UK for more than 90 days. 
  • During this qualifying 12-month period, you have not been subject to any time restrictions on your stay in the UK.
  • You were present in the UK on the exact date five years prior to making your citizenship application. If married to a British Citizen, please see the requirements we listed below. 
  • During this qualifying five-year period, you have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days. 
  • During your qualifying period, you did not breach any UK immigration laws. 

3-year Qualifying Period for Naturalisation

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you are granted ILR. In these circumstances, you must demonstrate the following during your application for Naturalisation.

  • In the 12 months immediately prior to your application, you have not been away from the UK for more than 90 days. 
  • You were present in the UK on the exact date three years prior to making your citizenship application. 
  • During this qualifying 3-year period, you have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days. 
  • During this qualifying 3-year period, you did not breach any UK immigration laws.

Other Ways to Qualify for British Citizenship 
In addition to completing the qualifying period as an immigrant, other situations can create an opportunity for you to become a British Citizen.

Let’s look at these other scenarios which may be applicable to your situation:

  • You have a parent who is British.
  • You hold another form of British nationality.
  • You have a parent with British overseas territories citizenship.
  • You are stateless, meaning you don’t have citizenship in any country.
  • You previously gave up (renounced) your citizenship.
  • Special circumstances apply to your case.
  • You are a descendant of a Chagossian (directly related to someone born in the British Indian Ocean Territory).

For Commonwealth Citizens

If you are a Commonwealth citizen, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship under the Windrush Scheme if both of the following conditions apply:

  • You or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973.
  • You have lived in the UK most of the time and haven’t been away for more than 2 years.

If your parent arrived in the UK before 1973, you must have either been born in the UK or arrived in the UK before you turned 18.

These are some additional pathways to citizenship that may apply to your situation.

Referees for British naturalisation application

Two referees’ information must be included with your Naturalisation application. You must have known both of the referees for at least three years each personally. 

Any nationality may serve as one of the referees, but that person must have professional standing, e.g., accountant, police officer, chemist, etc. The second referee should be a British national with a British passport, preferably a professional. The referees are required to make a declaration and provide the applicant with their personal information to be added to the online application form. 

Both referees must sign and complete a standard page with a passport picture of you attached. Our advisers can provide further information to help you choose the right referees for your Naturalisation application by examining their profiles and relationship with you if you are unsure about the referee criteria.

Application Process for British naturalisation application

You must submit an online application form to the Home Office for British citizenship. There is also an option to apply by post.

You must also pay the application fee and submit all necessary supporting documentation digitally.

You will also need to gather and submit supporting documentation to demonstrate your eligibility in support of your application.

Following submission, UKVI will review your application, cross-referencing it with data from sources like HMRC records, confirming your status as an immigrant to the UK, and looking into any pending criminal or civil cases that could result in your disbarment.

Certain conditions such as absences, overstaying, criminality thresholds and your personal and legal circumstances will require additional evidence and information. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from discretion under the relevant laws.

How can we help you with your British Citizenship application?

We can provide advice and assistance for you in your British Citizenship application as your legal representative. We advise you on the right supporting evidence, referee selection, filling out the form, submitting the evidence, booking your appointment, and staying as a point of contact in the correspondence with the Home Office.

If there are special circumstances in your case that require discretion or further attention, we reflect all the details in our representation letter.

We keep you informed of the status of your application in a proactive manner because we are aware of how stressful the Home Office application process can be. We take great pride in guiding you through the process in a smooth and effective way as you go through a life-changing process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can retain your passport, provided you have submitted a copy of your passport with your application and are allowed to enter and exit the UK while your application for naturalisation is being processed.

 

Decisions on the majority of British Naturalisation applications are processed in 3–4 months, while more complex decisions can take up to six months. Processing times will also vary based on the volume of cases handled by the Home Office.

Prior offences and convictions may impact the outcome of your application for naturalisation. The “good character” requirement applies to those aged 10 or over. The type of offence(s), whether you were given a prison sentence, and whether the conviction is still active will all have an impact on how much you are impacted. All criminal offences must be disclosed as part of your naturalisation application, as required by law. Failure to do so may result in your application being denied and may have an effect on any future UK applications you submit.

Yes, the Secretary of State may waive the language and life in the UK requirements due to the applicant’s age and physical or mental condition. The applicant’s GP or a GP working in the same practice or a General Medical Council registered consultant must complete the required documentation in order to request an exemption based on a physical or mental condition. A medical professional should fill out a “Waiver Request” form with details about the patient’s condition, symptoms, prognosis, and reasons why they are unable to learn English or get ready for the Life in the UK test.

If your application for British citizenship is granted, you will have 90 days to attend a citizenship ceremony to receive your certificate of naturalisation. After receiving the certificate, you can apply for a British passport.

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