Becoming a British citizen through the process of naturalisation is a significant milestone in one’s life. It opens doors to various rights, privileges, and opportunities in the United Kingdom. If you’ve ever wondered how to embark on this journey, this article will provide you with essential guidance on the different pathways to obtaining British citizenship and the necessary eligibility criteria. Whether you were born in the UK, are married to a British citizen, or have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, we’ve got you covered.
Check Your Eligibility
Before diving into the naturalisation process, it’s crucial to determine if you qualify for British citizenship. There are several routes available, and your eligibility depends on your specific circumstances. Let’s explore these options:
If You Were Born in the UK
Contrary to common belief, being born in the UK doesn’t automatically make you a British citizen. Your eligibility depends on your birthdate and your parents’ status. To ascertain your citizenship status, you must check with the authorities.
If You’re Married to or in a Civil Partnership with a British Citizen
If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for British citizenship after residing in the UK for the last three years. To qualify for this route, you must have either indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
If You Have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
If You Have ‘Settled Status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme
To apply for British citizenship with settled status, you generally need to have resided in the UK for 12 months after receiving settled status. If you haven’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, it might not be too late. Some exceptions can still grant you the opportunity to apply after the initial deadline.
Other Eligibility Routes
There are various alternative pathways to British citizenship, including having a British parent, possessing another type of British nationality, having a parent with British overseas territories citizenship, being stateless, renouncing your citizenship, or falling under special circumstances, such as being a Chagossian descendant.
If You’re a Commonwealth Citizen
Under the Windrush Scheme, you may be eligible for British citizenship if you or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973 and you’ve lived in the UK with no more than a two-year absence. Additional criteria apply if your parent arrived in the UK before 1973.
Eligibility and Fees
The eligibility criteria for applying for British citizenship include the following:
- Having lived in the UK for at least five years before your application date.
- Not having violated any UK immigration laws.
- Not having spent more than 450 days outside the UK in the last five years before your application, or more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.
- Proving your knowledge of English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic.
- Passing the Life in the UK test.
- Demonstrating the intent to continue living in the UK.
- Maintaining good character as specified in the naturalisation guidance.
You can apply for British citizenship after living in the UK for five years and having had either indefinite leave to remain, ‘settled status,’ or indefinite leave to enter for the last 12 months. If you are married to a British citizen, you do not need to wait 12 months to apply.
To meet the residency requirements for British citizenship, you must have resided in the UK for at least five years before the date of your application. If you have indefinite leave to enter or remain, the Home Office typically does not investigate whether you violated immigration laws before acquiring it.
Time Spent Outside the UK
You should be cautious not to exceed specific limits on time spent outside the UK:
- No more than 450 days outside the UK in the five years before your application.
- No more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.
Failure to adhere to these limits could jeopardise your eligibility for British citizenship. Moreover, if you’ve been away from the UK for extended periods, you may need to apply for a Returning Resident visa depending on your immigration status.
When to Apply
Your application for British citizenship must coincide with you being physically present in the UK exactly five years before the Home Office receives your application. It is important to ensure that you meet this requirement, as applications failing to do so might be rejected. However, there may be special circumstances, such as health issues or travel restrictions, which the Home Office will consider.
It’s important to instruct qualified immigration lawyers, such as ours at DJF Solicitors, to ensure a smooth application process with a positive result. Read more on our Naturalisation success story here.
Applying for British citizenship comes with a cost of £1,580. Additionally, you will need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo), and there is no fee associated with this. Detailed instructions on how to complete this process will be provided after you submit your application.
Becoming a British citizen is a significant and rewarding journey. With the comprehensive information provided in this article, you can now navigate the path to naturalisation with confidence. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the specific eligibility criteria that apply to your situation and follow the official guidance provided by the Home Office. Soon, you may proudly call yourself a British citizen and enjoy all the rights and opportunities that come with it.
Why Instruct Our Specialist Immigration Solicitors?
At DJF Solicitors, our team of specialist immigration lawyers will always act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meetings, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a visa application and are able to advise you in respect of your prospects and to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. 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 to discuss your visa application.