British Citizenship

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Apply for British Citizenship

Many people often confuse naturalisation with applying for a British passport and presume that you can apply for a British passport after you have been granted settled status. This is not the case. You must have British nationality to be able to apply for a British passport.

If you are a non-UK national living in the United Kingdom with a settled status, you may be thinking about making an application to become a British citizen. The process of obtaining British nationality is known as “Naturalisation“.

Are you eligible to apply for Naturalisation?

The eligibility criteria for naturalisation is different for people who are applying as a spouse of a British National:

In order to be eligible to apply for naturalisation, you must satisfy the following criteria:

  • You must be over 18 years old;
  • You must meet the “Good Character” requirements;
  • You do not have serious criminal convictions;
  • You are of sound mind;
  • You’ve been previously granted Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence Card;
  • You’ve passed ‘Life in the UK’ test;
  • You meet the English language requirement;
  • You must meet the requirements for the time spent in the UK;
  • You will continue to live in the UK.

What are the requirements for the time spent in the UK?

This is often referred to as the ‘residency requirements’ and is related to the your physical presence in the UK. The residency requires differ slightly for those who are spouse or civil partner of a British national and those who are not.

If you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen

You must have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years before making the application, have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain and have not had more than 270 days outside the UK. Additionally, in the 12-month period before making the application you have not spent more than 90 days outside the UK.

If you are not married to a British citizen

The Home Office guidance states that you must have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years before applying for naturalisation. In practice, you would have had to been in the UK for 6 year before making an application because you need 5 years residence in the UK to acquire settlement/ ILR and should have held this status for 12 months before you can apply to be naturalised.

The residency requirement regarding absences from the you if you are not married to or the civil partner of a British national or settled person are:

  • you must not have had more than 450 days outside the United Kingdom in the five-year period, and
  • in the 12-month period before making the application, you have not spent more than 90 days outside the United Kingdom.

What are the costs of naturalisation?

The current application fee is £1,330.

Please note that if you make a mistake and/or fail to submit the right documents, your application will be refused and the Home Office will not refund any of your application fee.

When can I apply for British citizenship as an EEA national?

You are eligible to apply for British citizenship 12 months after you have been granted Permanent Residence. You must have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in that 12-month period. During your time in the UK you must have been continuously exercising the ‘Treaty rights’, for example: working, being self-employed, student or self-sufficient.

When can I apply for a British passport?

Once you’ve obtained your naturalisation certificate, you will be eligible to make an application for a British passport. This application can be done online or using a paper form.

How long will my naturalisation application take?

Naturalisation applications usually take between 2 – 6 months before a decision is made.

It should be noted that there is no option of  Premium Same Day service available for British Citizenship applications.

Can I apply 28 days early?

You must wait until you have completed the full 12 months of having ILR status to apply for naturalisation. If you submit your application before completing the 12 month mark, expect a refusal.

However, if you are a married to or civil partner of a British national you are eligible to apply for naturalisation immediately after.

What are the most common reasons for refusal?

  • Failure to submit sufficient or adequate documents.
  • Having a criminal record or failing to meet good character requirements
  • Spending too many days out of UK before applying.
  • Not meeting the general preconditions.

For this reason, it is always best to speak with an expert who can assess your particular circumstances. At Master Legal Services we will provide you with an assessment on your application and provide thorough document checking service.

How can we help?

The application for the naturalisation can be complex and it is easy for clients to make errors.  We have extensive experience in such applications and  provide thorough assessment and document checking so that you can be well informed on the best way for you to proceed with your application.

Contact our office to speak to an immigration expert today.

Contact us for more information:

T: 020 8935 5205

M:+44 7710987064