Apply to become a British Citizen
After many years of complex visa applications, obtaining indefinite leave to remain in the UK allows you to finally apply to become a British Citizen.
When you can apply
For those who are not married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
If you are not married to a British citizen or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, at the time of applying you must have held indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months and lived in the UK with valid immigration status for at least five years in order to meet the residency requirement. There is also a general rule that you must have spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during this five year period and no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months before you apply. It is important to note however the Home Office has a discretion to disregard absences that are above these limits depending on the number of absences and the circumstances of your particular case.
This category will apply to any person with indefinite leave to remain who has held visas continuously for a five year period, including EU nationals who have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
For those who are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
If you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen you can apply to become a British citizen immediately after being granted indefinite leave to remain.
To qualify you must have lived in the UK for three years at the time of applying in order to meet the residency requirement. There is also a general rule you must have spent no more than 270 days outside the UK in that period and in the last 12 months you must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK. It is important to note however the Home Office has a discretion to disregard absences that are above these limits depending on the number of absences and the circumstances of your particular case.
For children born in the UK
A child born in the UK can apply to become British if either:
- One or both of their parents who were not British citizens and were not settled in the UK when they were born, then become settled in the UK or become a British citizen.
- If a child has lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life, they will have an entitlement to become British regardless of their parents’ immigration status.
These are the two main categories of children applying on their own to become British. There are a number of other categories and if you think your child may have a right to register as a British citizen, we can help. Most often a family will wish to apply for citizenship together and it is possible to include all family members in one application so they can receive a decision at the same time.
What Do I Need to Apply
English Language Qualification
If you are over 18 and under 65, you must be able to show that you have obtained a speaking and listening qualification at level B1 or higher or an equivalent qualification. This qualification must have been obtained at a test centre which is approved by the Home Office.
Another way of meeting this requirement is by having a suitable academic qualification taught in the UK at degree level or by having a suitable academic qualification taught overseas in English which is deemed by UK NARIC to be compatible with a UK degree.
You will not be required to meet the English requirement if you are a national of a majority English speaking country.
Knowledge of life in the UK
If you are over 18 and under 65, you must be able to show that you have passed the Life in the UK Test (LITUK).
If you have already passed the Life in the UK Test when applying for indefinite leave to remain, you will not be required to sit the test again. If you have a medical condition or other impairment you may be able to seek an exemption from passing both exams if you are able to provide satisfactory medical evidence.
Good character requirement
Every person over the age of 10 who applies to become a British citizen needs to meet the good character requirement. This requires meeting the Home Office Rules in respect of criminal convictions, breaches of immigration laws and other types of behaviour that the Home Office considers make an individual unsuitable to be granted British citizenship. A criminal conviction or breach of immigration law does not automatically exclude a person from being granted British citizenship but depends on the type of criminal offence or immigration breach, when it was committed and the punishment imposed. If you have a concern in respect of a criminal conviction, breach of immigration law or any other good character issue it is essential to seek expert legal advice on the impact it may have on your application before you apply.
- Once the application has been submitted and you have attended an appointment to provide your identity documents, photograph and fingerprints a decision should be made within around six months.
- When you are granted British citizenship you are required to attend a citizenship ceremony when you will receive a Certificate and you are then able to apply for your first British passport.
- You are permitted to leave the United Kingdom when your application is outstanding as you will already have indefinite leave to remain although you should note that you need to attend your citizenship ceremony within 90 days of being granted British citizenship.
How can we help applying for British citizenship?
- We will meet with you and obtain all relevant information about your circumstances and advise if you meet the requirements to apply to become a British citizen.
- If you meet the requirements, we will advise you in detail of the specific evidence you need to obtain.
- When you have all the evidence we will ensure the evidence is complete and in the format required. In order to prove you have been residing in the UK for three or five years, if necessary we will correspond with Government departments, your employer, accountant, landlord, colleges or universities and your children’s school/nursery and any other person or organisation to make sure the correct evidence is obtained.
- We will prepare your application through the Home Office Online system and when you are confident it is accurate and complete we will submit the application online.
- We will assist you in processing payment for the fees charged by the Home Office for the application.
- We will arrange the booking of an appointment at a Home Office Centre where you require to submit original documents and provide your photograph and fingerprints.
- We will prepare all the evidence to support the application and submit this to the Home Office online.
- We will keep you updated in respect of the progress of the application, carry out all relevant correspondence with the Home Office and inform you immediately when you receive a decision.
Born outside the United Kingdom and you have a British parent
If you were born outside the UK to a British parent and specific requirements are met, you may already be British and eligible to apply for a British passport or you may be entitled to apply to the Home Office to be registered as a British citizen. The laws are complex and different requirements apply depending on whether you were born outside the UK before 1983, between 1 January 1983 and 30 June 2006 or from 1 July 2006 onwards.
This is a complex area of British nationality law but if your historic family circumstances qualify, it can be an extremely attractive route to obtain a permanent right to enter and reside in the United Kingdom. Our immigration law specialists can provide expert advice and assistance to you.
Speak to our Immigration team
For expert advice on applying to become a British citizen, please get in touch today.
Contact us by filling out the enquiry form or emailing Mark below.