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British Citizenship

Who can apply for British Citizenship?

Depending on your circumstances, you may become a British citizen using one of the routes available in your case.

Ways for acquiring British citizenship

  • You must have resided in the UK for at least five years and obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled status (EUSS), and you hold it for longer than 12 months.
  • As the spouse of a British citizen, you may apply for British citizenship if you have lived in the UK for the last three years and hold Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled status (EUSS)
  • If you have a British parent
  • you have another type of British nationality
  • you have a parent with British Overseas Territories citizenship
  • you don’t have a nationality (stateless)
  • if you renounced your British nationality
  • Under the Windrush Scheme, Commonwealth citizens that arrived in the UK before 1973 and their children may apply for British citizenship if they lived in the UK and not left the UK for longer than two years.

What is the Naturalisation as a British citizen application?

Overseas nationals wishing to become British citizens by Naturalisation must apply to the government and be considered case-by-case. Even if they meet the legal requirements, there is no guarantee that their citizenship application will be successful.

The guidelines for obtaining Naturalisation are well-defined, yet each situation is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

I am married to a British citizen. Can I become a British citizen?

Being married to a British citizen does not automatically give you British citizenship. You must also have been given Indefinite Leave to Remain, whether through a spousal visa or another immigration pathway, to be eligible for citizenship.

To be eligible to apply for British citizenship, you must have been married to a British citizen, held ILR status, and lived in the UK for at least three years before the Application.

Documents required for British Citizenship

The following is an indicative list of documents required in British citizenship applications; some applicants may require more evidence:

  • Identification document (e.g., passport)
  • Your Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK confirmation letter or card
  • Your life in the UK certificate
  • Evidence of your knowledge of English
  • You may need your marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • P60 or self-assessments submitted during the last six years of residence in the UK (some applicants need only the last three years)
  • Alternative evidence of your residence in the UK

The continuous residence requirements in British citizenship applications

To satisfy the 'continuous residency requirements,' proof of living in the UK for a minimum of five years must be provided and during this period:

  • They spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those five years or 270 days during the last three years
  • They spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months

The above period may be different for some applications.

If you are uncertain if you fulfil the ‘continuous residency requirements’, get in touch with one of our immigration lawyers.

The “good character” requirement in British citizenship applications

This requirement has a broad meaning, defined in internal Home Office guidance documents. Some things that may affect your Application include but are not limited to:

  • Receiving a criminal conviction
  • Using false information or documents in immigration applications
  • financial issues such as insolvency or debt
  • evidence that raises questions about an applicant's good character

If you think something in your Application could prevent you from fulfilling the good character requirement, get in touch with one of our immigration lawyers. Our expertise can help you explain your options.

Automatic British citizenship (by birth)

Typical scenarios for British citizenship by birth:

  • If you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, you are typically a British citizen, except if your father was a diplomat for a non-UK country or was an enemy alien in occupation in the Channel Islands during World War 2.
  • If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and one of your parents was a British citizen or settled in the UK at the time; you are usually automatically a British citizen.

Registration as a British citizen

If you are not British automatically, you may be eligible to register for British citizenship if you meet other conditions:

  • If you were born in the UK to non-British parents and one of your parents became settled. Settled means that they received Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK or Settled status (EUSS)
  • Your mother was British, not your father. Additional conditions may apply for how your mother became a British citizen; also, your date of birth may impact the rules applicable in your case.
  • If you were born in the UK and at that time neither of your parents was British or Settled, you have lived in the UK for the first ten years of your life, and you have travelled abroad for less than 90 days.

Please note that the routes outlined above may include additional requirements applicable in your case for registration as a British citizen.

Requirements for British citizenship by descent

Someone who is a British citizen by descent is either somebody who was registered as a British citizen or somebody who was born outside the UK to a British parent. If their child is born in a foreign country, they typically cannot pass their citizenship on to them directly and may need to register the child for British citizenship if they are eligible.

If the other parent is a British citizen by birth, Naturalisation, or adoption, they can pass their citizenship directly to the child.

Eligibility for the Naturalisation as British Citizen application

You may apply for Naturalisation if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have lived in the UK for at least five years
  • You have been granted Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or Settled status (EUSS), and you held it for at least 12 months
  • You meet the continuous residence requirements
  • You meet the English language requirements; you must either be a national of an English-speaking country, possess a degree in English, or pass an accredited English language test.
  • Pass the life in the UK test at an approved centre
  • Meet the “good character” requirement
  • Intend to live permanently in the UK

Our immigration law professionals are available to answer any questions regarding the requirements. Please get in touch with us.

Do I need a referee for my British citizenship application? Who can be a referee?

You need two referees in an application for Naturalisation as a British citizen. Typically, one referee must be a professional such as a doctor, accountant, or director of a VAT-registered company; they can hold any nationality if they have professional standing. Your second referee must be a British citizen, a professional like your other referee or aged over 25. Lawyers may act as referees if they are not a representative in your Application.

How do I apply for Naturalisation as a British citizen?

  • You need to check if you are eligible for Naturalisation as a British citizen, including the good character and residency requirements.
  • Get your supporting documents for your Application.
  • Start your Application online, complete the answers to the questions
  • Speak with your two referees and ask them if they meet the requirements to act as referee
  • Submit the online form and pay the relevant fee of £1,330 per Applicant.
  • Scan your supporting documents, and upload them to the online portal
  • Book your online appointment for the biometrics enrolment
  • Provide a timely reply to the Home Office’s queries, if needed.
  • If your Application is approved, you will receive an invitation to the citizenship ceremony. You must arrange your citizenship ceremony during the required period.
  • Attend the citizenship Ceremony; you will get your Certificate of Naturalisation as a British citizen once you have completed the ceremony steps.

My Application for British citizenship was refused. Can I appeal it?

You do not have a legal right to challenge a citizenship decision. Still, you can ask the Home Office to review the refusal if you feel the decision was not following law, policy, or procedure. The Home Office’s letter should provide information on the grounds for the refusal.

How to ask the Home Office to reconsider a refusal of British Citizenship

To submit a request to have a refused British citizenship decision reconsidered, you must fill out Form NR and send a payment of £372 using the payment slip – citizenship or right of abode applications. You can pay by a card or by enclosing a cheque with your Application.

You must provide details as to why you believe the refusal decision is wrong and cite the relevant British nationality regulations and guidance which you believe has been incorrectly applied.

Some circumstances when the applications may be reconsidered include:

  • Miscommunication with the Home Office - if you provided the required information and there was an administrative error on the Home Office’s side.
  • Caseworker errors – if the Home Office failed to apply the correct rules relevant to your case or if they failed to consider information already available to them.
  • Home Office’s error in assessing your “good character” – e.g., if you received a criminal conviction that was subsequently quashed.

Note that the above list is not exhaustive; each case is assessed individually.

You must send the signed Form NR, the required fee, and the accompanying paperwork to the Home Office: Department 73, UK Visas and Immigration, The Capital, New Hall Place, Liverpool, L3 9PP.

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