EU naturalisation is the process by which EEA nationals with more than 6 years in the UK and who have held permanent residence status for at least 12 months can apply to become a British citizen, and be eligible for a British passport.
EU citizens who have registered under the EU settlement scheme become eligible to naturalise after 12 months with settled status.
What is EU naturalisation?
EU citizens who have been in the UK for more than six years are eligible to apply for EU naturalisation.
As a British citizen you will be able to live and work in Britain free from immigration controls and without the uncertainty of EEA nationals’ post-Brexit status in the UK.
The rules governing eligibility for British citizenship and for the application process are strict and vary depending on the circumstances of your application.
Before you commence your application, you should check the impact of your current right to nationality of applying to become British, as many countries prohibit citizens from holding two nationalities.
Am I eligible to apply for EU naturalisation?
You are eligible to apply as an EEA national if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You have been in the UK for a minimum qualifying period of six years.
- You have held UK permanent residence status or EU settled status for 12 months minimum.
- You must be 18 years old or over.
- You must not have a serious or recent criminal record.
- 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 is the naturalisation process?
An application for EU naturalisation requires you to complete the relevant form and compile extensive documentation. In most cases you will also need to attend an appointment at UKVCAS.
UKVI will review and check your application documentation and visa status in the UK, as well as running checks for criminal or civil matters which may disbar you.
Once approved, you will receive an invitation to attend a Citizenship ceremony. These are usually local to where you live. At the ceremony you will receive your Certificate of Naturalisation.
Thereafter you become eligible to apply for a British passport.
What you need to know about EU naturalisation
EU citizens can apply for naturalisation after six years in the UK, unless you are married to a British citizen. As the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, provided you satisfy the general eligibility requirements, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you are granted indefinite leave to remain, or permanent residence if you are an EEA national. This means you do not have to wait a further 12 months before becoming eligible to get British citizenship.
It is also 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 for example does allow you to have more than one nationality.
What will I need to show to apply for EU naturalisation?
There are a number of criteria which must be satisfied in full before your application will be approved. These include:
- Time spent in the UK – 6 years minimum for EEA nationals, unless married to a British citizen
- Have you passed Life in the UK test
- Can you satisfy English language requirement
- The total number of absences from the UK over the qualifying period
- Any criminal or civil matters which may disbar you
The application form is fairly straight forward but the supporting documentation required is typically extensive.
Evidence will be required concerning information about yourself, your time spent in the UK and absences from the UK. The documents that you submit in support of your application must be error-free, or the application will be delayed or worse refused. In some cases action may be taken if UKVI alleges you have made a false statement or submitted a fake document.
The British citizenship application will be reviewed and checked by UKVI to cover your visa status, tax status, criminal and civil matters.
Once approved, you will receive an invitation to attend at a Citizenship ceremony which is usually local to where you live and at the ceremony you will receive your Certificate of Naturalisation.
Thereafter you are free to apply for a British passport which is usually processed within approximately six weeks.
How does naturalisation affect my rights after Brexit?
Once you naturalise as a British citizen, you will hold the same rights as and you will no longer be considered as an EU national in the UK or affected by any changes in legislation or immigration rights affecting EU nationals. As such, EU citizens with more than 6 years in the UK are looking to naturalisation to secure their future and the of their loved ones in the UK.
Can children apply to naturalise?
A parent can apply to naturalise at the same time as their child.
One important consideration when making the applications is the possibility that the child may be approved, but the parent’s / parents’ 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 will not be refunded.
What is the cost of naturalisation?
Home Office fees are subject to change and you should check before sending in your application. Check the latest fees here. Also note that if you make a mistake and fail to subject a relevant document, your application will be automatically refused and you will lose your application fee(s).
How long does it take to get British citizenship?
On average, we advise our clients to anticipate that their application will be processed in approximately 3 months. The complexity of your application will determine how long it will take to be processed, as well as the volume of other applications UKVI have received.
Under the current rules, you do not need to send your original passport with the application, provided a certified copy (every page) of your passport is sent as part of the document bundle. This allows you to continue to travel while your application is being processed.
What if my application is refused?
10,642 British citizenship applications were refused in 2015. Some of the reasons for refusal were incorrect documentation, failure to complete the form correctly and failing to respond to UKVI’s enquiries in a timely manner.
If your naturalisation application is refused, you may resubmit an application.
It is important to understand however why the application failed in the first instance and how this can be addressed or rectified. For example, was there an error in completing the form, was the incorrect fee paid or was there failure on discretionary grounds? We can provide guidance on how to approach a reapplication.
I have criminal convictions will this affect my application?
Yes, previous offences and convictions are likely to affect your 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 to naturalise.
What is the difference between naturalisation and permanent residence?
Permanent residence grants an applicant the right to live, work and study in the UK without any immigration restrictions, while still holding a foreign citizenship and passport. To be eligible, applicants need to evidence 5 years of qualifying activity in the UK without having been outside of the UK for more than 90 days within any 12 month period.
Permanent residence holders can over time become entitled to apply for naturalisation if they meet the further criteria for citizenship.
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 EU naturalisation 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 and naturalisation applications.