How to Become a British Citizen?

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To become a British citizen you must comply with a number of mandatory requirements set by British nationality law. By becoming a UK citizen you will get your British passports and have the same rights and obligations as natural British citizens.

Who Can Become a British Citizen?

There are quite a few categories and qualifying circumstances you can acquire British citizenship.

Here is when you can apply to become a UK citizen:

  • By Naturalization.
    • EEA citizens.
    • EEA PR Card holders.
    • Spouses/civil partners of British citizens.
  • By being born in the UK.
    • Persons born in the United Kingdom, with at least one parent of qualifying circumstances.
  • By British family ties.
    • Persons with at least one British citizen parent.
    • Persons with at least one parent of a different British nationality.
  • By previous UK citizenship.
    • Person having lost their British citizenship.
  • Stateless Status.
    • Persons without any nationality.
  • By commonwealth Origin.
    • Persons of Windrush Generation qualifying for British citizenship.

What is Naturalization?

When you naturalize as a citizen of UK this means you have legally switched into British nationality from the previous nationality you have previously held.

Who Can Become a British Citizen by Naturalization?

You can apply for naturalization as British citizens after having been a resident in the UK for several continuous years.

Here is who can claim British citizenship by naturalization:

  • Visa Nationals. (5-year qualifying period). You must be 18 or older, having lived in the UK with a Temporary Permit for 4 continuous years. Since then you have received an Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to enter at least a year before applying.
  • EEA Citizens and Their Family Members. (5-year qualifying period). You must be 18 or older, having lived in the UK for 5 continuous years as a “qualified person”. In the last year of such a period, you must have held a UK Document for Permanent Residence (as an EEA citizen), or an EEA Permanent Card (as a family member of an EEA citizen).
  • Married/Civil Partners of British Citizens. (3-year qualifying period). You must have been living in the UK over the past 3 continuous years on the basis of a marriage/civil partnership with a British citizen.
  • Irish Nationals. (No qualifying period). You don’t need to provide any document confirming your rights for permanent residence.

British Naturalization Eligibility

Under the British nationality Act 1981, there are two main qualifying groups for British citizenship by naturalization. This takes account of married/civil partners of British citizens Section 6 (2) and others who don’t have such a relationship with British citizens Section 6 (1), who both qualify to become British.

Despite the differences, both of these categories must be able to satisfy key mandatory conditions of such law, to be able to successfully apply for citizenship of the UK.

Key preconditions to apply for British citizenship by naturalization include:

  • Being of age 18 and older.
  • Having the intention to permanently remain in the UK.
  • Being of “Sound Mind” about the intention to become a British citizen.
  • Having decent English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic communication skills.
  • Having a respective history of legal continuous residence in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, or Channel of Islands right since before applying.
  • Possessing knowledge about UK life.
  • Having a “Good Character”.

What Does “Sound Mind” Requirement Involve?

The Home Secretary wants to consider for British citizenship only persons who are in a state of mind where they fully understand what taking such citizenship involves and how that can work on their interest.

When a person has a mental or medical condition that doesn’t allow him understanding such an issue, someone else may decide on their behalf what’s right for them. In such case, this responsible person must complete the application form. This person has to explain on page 22 of the form, how taking British citizenship would be of interest to the applicant. It must be supported by a doctor’s letter explaining the condition of the applicant, and information about who’s going to take care of them.

Who Is Exempt From the “Life in the UK” Test?

There are some persons who are exempt from the requirement of passing the “Life in the UK” test. This includes people aged 65 and over, those having passed the test before, and people with permanent mental or physical condition.

What Is the Declaration of a “Good Character”?

This is a declaration that you have to sign when claiming British citizenship. It’s a statement through which you confirm having properly respected rights, freedoms, duties, and obligations during the qualifying period of residence in the UK. The Home Office will make an investigation against your statement to make sure your claims are true. You will be taken away UK citizenship upon evidence of false statements.

The elements of consideration when evaluating a person for their good character are:

  • History of criminality. This takes account of criminal convictions, non-custodial sentences and out of court disposals. This also includes other criminal activities and suspected criminal activities.
  • Involvement in or associated with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, terrorism or other doings that don’t serve to the public good.
  • History of financial reliability. This takes account of not paying taxes or other financial obligations.
  • Dishonest and deceptive actions towards local community and UK government.
  • Involvement in actions about avoiding immigration control.
  • Deprivation of citizenship. This includes Bogus Marriages/Civil Partnerships and Marriages/Civil Partnerships of Convenience, Abuse of the English Language and/or Knowledge of Life Test, Prosecution for False Statements, False Statements by Referees, Illegal Entry, Assisting Illegal Migration, Evasion of immigration control, Hiring Illegal Workers, and Deprivation of Citizenship.

What are the Required Documents to Apply for British Citizenship?

To apply for British citizenship through naturalization you have to provide these documents:

  • Duly filled out application form AN.
  • Proof of your identity. (Any of the following).
    • Your valid national passport.
    • National identity card.
    • Home Office travel document.
    • Home Office entitlement card.
    • Home Office ARC letter.
    • Home Office Biometric Residence Permit.
    • Your birth certificate.
    • Your driving license.
  • Proof of having legally lived in the UK for the qualifying continuous period.
  • Your passports held during this period.
  • Formal letters from employer or education provider or UK departments. They must confirm you have been present in the UK during the qualifying period.
  • Proof of being permanent residence residents in the UK as an EEA citizen or their non-EEA direct family member.
    • Your valid national passport.
    • Your valid EEA national ID card.
    • Document for Permanent Residence.
    • Your EEA Permanent Residence Card.
  • Proof of being a permanent resident.
    • Your passport holding a Settlement Permit.
    • Home Office letter of Settlement Permit.
    • Proof of appeal applications. If you have entered the UK as an asylum seeker.
    • Proof of a legal entrance to the UK.
    • Your valid Irish passport. If you’re an Irish citizen.
  • Proof of being a spouse/civil partner of a British citizen. (If applicable).
    • Your British spouse’s/civil partner’s valid British passport. Or, their registration certificate as a British citizen (If a naturalized citizen). Send photocopies of every page of the passport.
    • Marriage/civil partnership certificate.
  • Evidence of your English skills.
    • Certificate of English language of at least B1 level of CEFR. It must be issued by a recognized test by the UK, confirming you have successfully passed speaking and listening English test. If you have passed the test on or after April 6, 2015, you have to write the number of your qualifications.
    • Education degree certificate received in the UK.
    • Education degree certificate taken in an English-speaking state (except for Canada). It has to be supported by a UK NARIC confirmation that such a degree is equivalent to the respective UK degree. This can be a Bachelor’s, Master or Ph.D. degree.
    • Education degree certificate of studies held in English, taken in a non-English-speaking state for studies. It must be accompanied by a UK NARIC confirmation for equivalence of such a degree with that in the UK. And, by a UK NARIC statement confirming that such studies were held in English.
    • No evidence. If you hold citizenship of an English-speaking country.
  • Evidence of having passed the “Life in the UK” Test.
    • “Life in the UK” certificate and pass reference number. Issued by an official government service for “Life in UK” Tests. Test center will also send your test results to the Home Office electronically.
    • Letter from a doctor. (If applicable). It has to confirm your inability to cope with this condition due to a specific physical and/or mental health condition.
  • Proof of self-employment. (If applicable).
    • The latest HM Revenue & Customs Self-Assessment Statement of Account.
  • Proof of being a servant to the Crown. (If being married/civil partner of a British citizen in Crown or designated service).
    • Formal letter from the employer. Showing all details of employment and how the employer would benefit from you if you have been given UK citizenship.
  • Proof of contributions for National Insurance during the qualifying period. (If being a worker).
    • P60’s.
    • Formal letter from the employer. Confirming employment during the respective period.
  • Information to evaluate if you can qualify as a “Good Character”.
  • Proof of relationship you have with the joined applicant in your application.
    • Marriage/civil partnership certificate.
  • Biometric information. As a part of the application, you have to provide your biometric information such as your photograph and fingerprints. This process is carried in a post office over a pre-appointed meeting, to cost about £19.20. The Home Office will send you an invitation letter after you apply, guiding you where and how to provide such information.

How to Apply for British Citizenship for your Child?

When you apply for British citizenship by naturalization, there’s no available option to include your child on your own application form. Instead, you have to apply for registration as a British citizen, on behalf of your underage child using a form MN1. Your child will be able to apply for citizenship by the time they reach the age of 18 and over.

This applies to your underage children having born out or inside the United Kingdom before you have taken permanent resident status.

If your child under 18 was born inside the UK after you have become a permanent resident in the UK, they will automatically get the status of a British citizen. Instead, you may right away apply for a British passport of your child.

The fee to apply for your underage child’s Registration as a British citizen is s £1,012.

It costs an extra £80 to organize the ceremony of taking British citizenship if such a child turns 18 while you make an application.

Where to Submit the Application for Naturalization as a British Citizen?

If You’re Applying Online.

You have to make an appointment in 10 working days before submitting the online application. This service isn’t available for applications done from Channel of Islands, Isle of Man or British Overseas Territories or elsewhere other than the UK.

If You’re Applying by Post.

You should send your application file, containing all the required documents of application for naturalization on the addresses below.

If you’re applying from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, Commonwealth or other countries other than the ones mentioned below, send the file to the UK Visas and Immigration to the following address:

Department 1
UK Visas and Immigration
The Capital Building
New Hall Place
L3 9PP

If you’re applying from Isle of Man or Channel Islands, send it to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

If you’re applying from British Overseas Territories (BOT) send it to the Office of the Governor of such territories.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Response on the Application for Naturalization?

It takes up to 4 weeks to receive a confirmation on your application for British citizenship by naturalization. The decision of whether your application is approved or not is received within 6 months since the day you apply.

In such a waiting period, you may be invited for an interview, where your speaking English language skills will be examined.

When Can I Receive the British Passport?

Upon a positive response on your claims for naturalization as a British, an invitation will be sent to you by the Home Office for participation in a ceremony of the citizenship. You are required to book a place in the citizenship ceremony in 3 months since the day you have been invited at your local council, to cost £80 (or more for a private ceremony).

If you are not in the UK, you can require from the British consular service to organize a procedure for you abroad, or you may wait until your return, but anyhow, you must book the ceremony in 3 months since you have been invited.

In the ceremony, you must promise to be a citizen who’ll respect the rights, freedoms and fulfill the obligations and duties deriving from the UK citizenship. Upon this, you will be issued a Certificate of British Citizenship together with a welcome pack.

In 5 days since receiving the certificate, you have to send back to the Home Office your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cut into 4 pieces, by post. The envelope where you’ll put your BRP has to be windowless and including a note: “I’m returning this residence permit because I’ve become a British citizen”.

The address where you have to return your cut BRP is:

Naturalisation BRP Returns
PO Box 195
BS20 1BT

As soon as sending your BRP, you may apply for a British passport. It costs £75.50 for the first adult standard British passport through online application and £85 by the post office.

You can also apply for Certificate of Entitlement, as a document confirming your right of adobe in the UK.

What is Considered as Breach of Immigration Law?

The authorities of the UK want to know if the person claiming British citizenship has a probability to be a criminal in the future. They evaluate this, by evaluating your criminal history so far, especially, during the qualifying period.

These are the actions that UK authorities classify as crimes:

  • Having entered or remained in the UK without the needed visa or residence permit. This is considered illegal in the UK.
  • Not having the needed documents to demonstrate that you have been forced to enter the UK illegally, i.e. if you have been an asylum seeker or refugee.
  • Having stayed without the needed permission in the UK while trying all your appeal rights to remain. This is considered illegal even if you have been given settlement permit after this, since you must have been staying with a temporary residence permit during the awaiting period.
  • Any immigration offense during the 10-year period before applying for naturalization.

Does My Application for British Citizenship be Refused If I’ve Been Involved in a Criminal Activity?

The UK Home Office expects from candidates for British citizenship to have a clear criminal history. However, not all of them have one, and that is why there are certain exceptions from the general rule. If you have a conviction history abroad or in the UK, you will most likely not be given citizenship of the UK. However, the following is also true:

  • Conviction of period 4 years or more. Refused.
  • Convictions of 1 – 4 years. Refused, except if 15 years have passed since the conviction period has ended.
  • Convictions up to 1 year. Refused, except if 10 years have passed since the conviction period has ended.
  • Non-custodial offense or other out of court criminal record. Refused, except if 3 years have passed since the conviction happened.
  • If you’re waiting for a court decision as you have been charged with a criminal offence you should wait until such decision is made.

Non-custodial offences take account of fines, cautions, warnings and reprimands, community sentences, civil orders, hospital orders & restriction orders and potential court orders.

Do I Qualify for British Citizenship If I have Exceeded the Allowed Period of Absence from the UK in the Qualifying Period?

Normal absences from the UK during 5-year continuous period should be 450 days.

Exceptions are applied in the following cases:

  • 480 days of absence. For all applicants.
  • 900 days of absence. If you can comply with all other requirements for naturalization and you have a family and home duly established in the UK.
  • 480-730 days. If you have been a UK resident over the past 7 years.
  • 731-900 days. If you have been a UK resident over the past 8 years.

Normal absences during a 3-year qualifying period of residence in the UK are 270 days. Exceptions from the rule are offered for the following situations:

  • 300 days of absence. For all applicants.
  • 540 days. If you can comply with all other requirements for naturalization and you have a family and home duly established in the UK.
  • 301-450 days. If you have been a UK resident over the past 4 years.
  • 451-540 days. If you have been a UK resident over the past 5 years.

Normal absences during a 1-year period of residence are 90 days.

Exceptions from that rule make the following cases:

  • 100 days of absence. For all applicants.
  • 179 days. If you can comply with all other requirements for naturalization and you have a family and home duly established in the UK.
  • 101-179 days. If you have been a UK resident over the past 4 years.

You don’t have to give evidence of such absences if you have been away from the UK for the following reasons:

  • Abroad in Crown or designated service.
  • In a job position that requires frequent traveling abroad.
  • Exceptional work or compassionate reasons.

What Are the Recognized English-Speaking Countries for Naturalization Purposes?

These are the countries acknowledged as English speaking countries for naturalization:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • Jamaica
  • The Bahamas
  • New Zealand
  • Barbados
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Belize
  • St Lucia Canada
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Dominica
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Grenada
  • The United States of America
  • Guyana

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