As a British citizen, you can live and work in the UK free from immigration controls. Unless you are British by descent, you must apply to be granted British citizenship. Applications can be made by individuals who are married to a British citizen, or by individuals who meet certain criteria for ‘naturalisation’.
What is British citizenship?
The rules governing eligibility for British citizenship and for the application process are strict and vary depending on the circumstances of your application.
Am I eligible to apply for British citizenship?
You are eligible to apply for British citizenship if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You must be 18 years old or over.
- You must not have a serious or recent criminal record.
- You have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, or as an EEA national have permanent residence in the UK.
- You have not broken any immigration laws or conditions while in the UK.
- You must satisfy the English language requirements and pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
What will I need to show to apply for British citizenship?
As part of your application you will need to demonstrate:
- If you are married to a British citizen – that you have been in the UK for three years and have Indefinite Leave to Remain when you apply, and that you have not been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in the past 12 months or 270 days in the past three years.
- If you are not married to a British citizen – that you have lived in the UK for at least five years before your application date, that you have not been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months, or more than 450 days during the last five years, and that you will continue to live in the UK as a naturalised citizen.
What you need to know about British citizenship
You can apply for naturalisation after 12 months of Indefinite Leave to Remain.
It is important to check if your country of origin allows you to hold both British citizenship and citizenship of that country, as some do not permit this. The UK does allow you to have more than one nationality.
How we can help
At DavidsonMorris we have the experience to advise you on the most appropriate type of application for your individual circumstances and have the insight to make the application process as smooth as possible.
As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of British citizenship applications.
How long does the British Citizenship application process take?
On average, we advise our clients to anticipate that their British citizenship application will be processed in approximately 2-3 months. The complexity of your application will determine how long it will take for your application to be processed as well as the volume of other applications UKVI have to process.
What does it cost to submit a British Citizenship application?
Full fees can be found on the Home Office website. UKVI currently charge a fee of £1,236 per applicant.
I am an EEA national, when can I apply to become British?
As an EEA national you will be eligible to become a British citizen once you have been living in the UK for a period of 5 years or more on the date of your application.
You can apply for Permanent Residence in the UK if you have been in the UK for a period of 5 years without having been outside of the UK for more than 90 days within any 12 month period.
You will then be able to apply to become a British citizen 12 months after you have been granted Permanent Residence, provided you meet the eligibility requirements, which include the English language requirement, as well as not having been outside the UK for more than 450 days during your 5 year stay.
Of course there are additional requirements for an EEA national to apply to become British so it is advisable that you speak to one of our immigration solicitors who will be able to help you through the process. There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen, so it is best to consult DavidsonMorris to discuss the best options for your application
What happens when a dependant child is also applying for British citizenship at the same time?
A parent can apply for British citizenship under Form AN at the same time apply as their child (under Form MN1). Parents should however consider the possibility that the child may be found to be eligible for registration, but that their own application may be refused.
Section 7 of Form MN1 invites the parent to confirm that, in this event, the child should still be registered as a British citizen.
If the relevant box is not ticked, the child’s application will be treated as having been withdrawn at the point when the parent’s application is refused. The child’s application fee (£936) will not be refunded.
What if the application is refused?
You may resubmit an application however it is important to understand why the application failed in the first instance and how this can be addressed or recitifed, for example an error in completing the form, the incorrect fee paid or failure on discretionary grounds.
I have criminal convictions will this affect my citizenship application?
Yes, previous offences and convictions are likely to affect your British citizenship application, although this does depend upon the type of conviction or offence.
For more information, it is best to speak to DavidsonMorris. Our solicitors will be able to advise as to when a conviction will become spent and when it is possible to apply for citizenship.