British Citizenship is the ultimate goal for many EU and non-EEA nationals currently in the United Kingdom. There are a number of advantages associated to holding British citizenship such as having the Right of Abode. There are various different routes to British citizenship under the UK Immigration Rules and The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (“EEA Regulations 2016”). EU nationals who are entitled to apply for EEA Permanent Residence are urged to act and secure their status before the United Kingdom’s formal separation from the EU.
The benefits that come with holding British Citizenship
There are a number of benefits in applying for British Citizenship and it is considered to be a privilege to hold such status. Applicants who acquire British citizenship can reside in the United Kingdom freely without any immigration restrictions, otherwise also referred to as having the Right to Abode. Applicants who hold British citizenship can access public benefits and also have access to the National Health Service (NHS). Further, Applicants can also apply for their family members to come and join them in the United Kingdom. There are various different routes to British Citizenship under both the UK Immigration Rules and the EEA Regulations 2016. It should be noted that all British citizenship applications will be considered in accordance with the British Nationality Act 1981.
Applying for British Citizenship under the UK Immigration Rules
The most common route to British citizenship is applying for initial leave under the Immigration Rules and applying to extend leave up until the Indefinite Leave to Remain stage. The procedure is as noted below:
- Applying for initial leave for 2.5 years under the Immigration Rules. This could be under a Point Based System application or a family based application.
- Applicants must then apply for an extension of leave in the same category for a further 2.5 years.
- Following this, once Applicants have acquired 5 years of lawful leave in the same category they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, otherwise also referred to as permanent status or settlement.
- Applicants can then apply for British Citizenship once they have held Indefinite Leave to remain for 12 months.
If you cannot acquire 5 years continuous leave in the same category you will not be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. However, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain once you have acquired 10 years lawful leave and rely on a combination of leave in different categories.
There are also circumstances where Applicants can apply for accelerated settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) under the business related applications such as the Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Entrepreneur route.
There are some British Citizenship applications that can be made directly under the British Nationality Act 1981 on the basis of registration as a British citizen. There are scenarios where Applicants may have the automatic right to British citizenship through descent, i.e. being born to a British mother or father.
Applying for British Citizenship under the EEA Route
There is also a route to British citizenship under the EEA Regulations 2016. Applicants will first be required to apply for EEA Permanent Residence. Similarly to Indefinite Leave to Remain, Applicants can acquire a document certifying permanent residence in the United Kingdom if they can show 5 years continuous residence in the United Kingdom. However, the key distinction is that under the EEA Regulations Applicants are not required to hold leave same in the same category. All that is required from Applicants is the continuous exercise of Treaty Rights. Student and Self-Sufficient Applicants will also be required to show that they have held private comprehensive sickness insurance.
Meeting the requirements for British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981
The basic requirements for a British Citizenship application under the British Nationality Act 1981 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; and
- 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.
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.