Obtaining British Citizenship is the ultimate goal for many people in the UK currently on Immigration restriction. Once a person has been granted British Citizenship they are officially free of all immigration restriction in the UK and they will have the right to permanently live in the UK. Once a person has acquired British Citizenship he can use the National Health Service free of charge, work in the UK without restrictions and will be eligible to vote. The British Nationality Act 1981 (“BNA 1981”) governs British Citizenship applications. However, it is Section 6 of the BNA 1981 that covers Naturalisation applications.
What do I need to apply for British Citizenship?
All British Citizenship applications are governed by the BNA 1981. The most common way of obtaining British Citizenship is by applying for Naturalisation. It should be noted that Naturalisation is not an entitlement instead it is a matter of law. Naturalisation is often referred to as a privilege as it is the Home Office who has the discretion to grant this. There are two categories under which an application for Naturalisation can be made to obtain British Citizenship under the BNA 1981. The first category is applying in your own right under Section 6 (1) of the BNA 1981. This can be achieved by spending five continuous years in the UK and subsequently holding settled status for a period of one year. The second category is applying under Section 6 (2) and can be applied for by Applicants who are married to British Citizens. The key distinction between two categories is the qualifying period and absences requirement. The basic requirements for a British Citizenship application are noted below:
- You must be 18 years of age or over;
- You must be able to demonstrate that you are of sound mind and good character;
- You must consider the UK as your principal place of home;
- You must meet the residency requirement and not have excessive absences from the UK;
- You must meet the English language requirement and show you have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
Nationals of majority speaking English countries are not required to show a formal speaking and listening qualification. You may be able to meet the English language requirement by providing your Birth Certificate or Identification document with your British Citizenship application. Those wishing to apply for British Citizenship should consult with a member of our expert immigration team so we can consider the eligibility criteria and explore whether, among other requirements, they meet the good character and residency requirements.
What is the Good Character Requirement in British Citizenship applications?
A key requirement for a British Citizenship application is demonstrating good character. The difficulty with the good character requirement is that there is no statutory definition of what establishes good character. The BNA 1981 does not define the term “good character”. However, the Home Office guidance states the following on good character:
“To be of good character you must have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK”.
It is certain that the Home Office will carry out criminal records checks in every application and may also work with other public bodies to retrieve information about Applicants. Therefore, it is essential that all information is disclosed to the Home Office when applying for British Citizenship. It is advised that applicants also disclose minor parking offences such as fixed penalty notices and speeding offences under the Road Traffic Act 1984. A failure to disclose all relevant information is likely to result in your British Citizenship being refused and in some circumstances issues of deception may arise.
If you have a criminal record or have had some issues with the law in the past it does not mean that you cannot submit a successful British Citizenship application. With the correct legal assistance and representation, a strong and persuasive application can be submitted. Our team of solicitors and barristers have a proven method of submitting all types of naturalisation applications.
What is the Residency Requirement in British Citizenship applications?
If you are applying for British Citizenship the Home Office would expect you to be resident in the UK and you must also be able to show your ties and connections to the UK. To satisfy the residency requirement applicants must not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. In addition to this, if you are applying under Section 6 (1) of the BNA 1981, your absences in the qualifying period must not exceed 450 days. If you are applying under Section 6 (2) of the BNA 1981 your absences in the qualifying period must not exceed 270 days. It is possible to ask the Home Office to exercise discretion if you exceed the total number of permitted absences from the UK if you can show mitigating circumstances behind the absences.
Using Legal Representation to Submit a British Citizenship Application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a British Citizenship Application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK British Citizenship Application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your British Citizenship Application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful British Citizenship Applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your British Citizenship Application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your UK Visas and Immigration application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to a successful application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.