British Citizenship by Naturalisation

If you are at least 18 years old and have been granted indefinite leave to remain or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for Naturalisation as a British citizen.

What are the main eligibility requirements for Naturalisation as a British citizen?

To be eligible for naturalisation as a British citizen, you will need to meet certain statutory criteria with regard to your immigration status, length of residence in the UK, future intentions, knowledge of the English language and life in the UK, and good character.

If you are not married to a British citizen (or do not wish to rely on your marriage to a British citizen) the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day five years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that five year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK and have not been subject to any such time limit at any time during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language;
  • Your intentions are that if your application is successful your home (or principal home) will be in the UK.

If you are married to a British citizen, the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day three years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the intervening three year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that three year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK at the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language.

What else do I need to know about British Citizenship by Naturalisation?

The Secretary of State has a residual discretion to treat applicants as meeting some of the requirements even where those requirements are not met. This includes:

  • The permitted absence requirements (e.g. if you have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 month period prior to your application);
  • The 12 month ‘no time limit’ requirement;
  • The requirement not to have been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during the three or five year qualifying period.

The Secretary of State has a discretion to waive the language and life in the UK requirements on grounds of the applicant’s age, physical or mental condition.

The Secretary of State has no discretion to waive, or to treat applicants as meeting, the following requirements:

  • To have been in the UK at the start of the three or five year qualifying period (although there is some discretion in relation to members of the armed forces);
  • To be free of any restriction on the period you may stay in the UK (i.e. to have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK or to have acquired a right of permanent residence);
  • To be of good character.

From 12 November 2015 it has been necessary for EEA national applicants and their family members seeking to rely on having acquired a right of permanent residence to have obtained a Document Certifying Permanent Residence or a Permanent Residence Card as appropriate before applying for naturalisation as a British citizen..

As there is no statutory definition of ‘good character’, the Home Office approach is to decide applications according to their own published policy. As apparently innocuous matters can lead to an adverse decision, it is essential for this matter to be considered fully before making an application.

If your application for naturalisation as a British citizen is successful, you will have to attend a registration ceremony. At the end of the ceremony you will be presented with your certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen.

If you are a British Overseas Territories Citizen, a British National (Overseas), a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, or a British protected person then you are not a British citizen; however naturalisation is unlikely to be suitable for you as you are likely to have an alternative route to British citizenship through registration.

How our immigration Lawyers can help

Our immigration Lawyers have experience assisting with all types of nationality matters. Whether you are looking to apply for naturalisation on your own or on the basis of your marriage to a British citizen, our Lawyers can guide you through the complexities of the process and British nationality law.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration and nationality advice as part of a professional and friendly service.

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