Who can apply for British citizenship
If you are a foreign national who has been living in the UK for at least five years, then you may first of all want to apply for permission to settle permanently. This is known as applying for permanent settlement, more often called indefinite leave to remain.
After you have been granted your indefinite leave to remain and you have been living in the UK for at least one year since, you will likely be able to apply for British citizenship.
To be eligible for citizenship you must meet a number of requirements and you need to be considered ‘of good character’. The application process can be complex and lengthy, but you don’t need to worry. With AWH the process will be stress-free.
Our solicitors will be by your side every step of the way, answering your questions and making sure you understand everything you need to know.
Requirements for your British citizenship application
Before you begin your application to become a British citizen, there are a number of requirements you have to meet. The minimum requirements for becoming a British citizen are:
- Being aged 18 or over
- Being of good character – this means you cannot have a recent or serious criminal record, you have not attempted to deceive the Home Office, and you haven’t committed immigration offences in the last ten years
- Planning to continue to live in the UK following reception of your citizenship
- Having met the English Language and Life in the UK test requirements
- Meeting certain residency requirements (listed below)
At AWH, we know that everyone’s situation is different. Our team will be able to help you find out if you are eligible to apply for British citizenship.
British citizenship for EU nationals
You can apply for British citizenship as a EU national if you have been living in the UK for over 5 years and you have held your permanent residence status for at least 1 year.
EU citizens can benefit from applying for citizenship to ensure their rights in the UK are protected after Brexit. To be successful in your citizenship application you must meet the same requirements as outlined above.
What you have to prove
In addition to meeting all of the above, you will need to prove that all of the below apply to you, in order to be successful in your citizenship application:
- You have lived legally in the UK for at least five consecutive years before the date of your application
- You have spent no more than 450 days outside of the UK during the five years
- You have spent no more than 90 days outside of the UK in the last year
- If you are from outside the European Economic Area, you have been settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain for the past year at least
- You’ve held permanent residence status for the past year if you’re a citizen of an EEA country
- You have not broken any immigration laws while you have been living in the UK, whether you’re from inside or outside the EEA
It is also possible for you to apply for your own British citizenship on the basis of your spouse being a British citizen, if you entered the UK on a spouse visa originally. Our immigration team can advise you on how to go about doing so.
How to apply for British citizenship
Citizenship by naturalisation
In order to become a British citizen if you are a migrant, you will go through a process called ‘naturalisation’. This essentially just refers to the amount of time you live in the UK for before you apply to become a British citizen.
There are three ways to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation:
- Make an individual application
- Use the Nationality Checking Service (NCS)
- Use an agent or representative
Making an individual application
To make an individual application, you need to fill in Form AN – application for naturalisation as a British citizen.
Applying using the NCS
The NCS is run by local councils and they can help you make your application on your behalf.
Apply through an agent or representative
An agent or representative is a private company or individual that can help you with your application and give you advice.
Check if an agent or representative is registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
You can also use solicitors or barristers that aren’t registered with the OISC. These include:
- General Council of the Bar
- Law Society of England and Wales
- Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
- Faculty of Advocates
- Law Society of Scotland
- General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
- Law Society of Northern Ireland
The application fee for citizenship is £1,206.
Documents you need to provide
To apply for British citizenship – either individually or as a spouse – you need to provide evidence of:
- Your identity
- Your knowledge of language and life in the UK
- Your lawful residence in the UK
- Your employment in the UK
- Your marriage or civil partnership, if you’re making a joint application
- Your biometric information
You must provide the biometric information itself, including fingerprints and a photo. This can be done at your local Post Office, and costs £19.20.
The Home Office will tell you when you need to provide your biometric information and it will only be held until you’ve attended your citizenship ceremony.
After you have applied
After you have applied you will get a confirmation letter. This can take up to four weeks. A decision about your application will usually be made within six months, however some applications may take longer.
You will be told if you need to provide more information to help with your application.
You should also contact UK Visas and Immigration if your situation changes during your application, for instance if you change address or get married.
You might be asked to attend an interview where you will need to speak without an interpreter.
If you apply for British citizenship and your application is successful – and you’re over 18 – you will be invited to book a place at a citizenship ceremony. You’re usually allowed to take up to two guests. Please note, you need to take your invitation with you when you go to the ceremony.
You will also need to pay a ceremony fee of £80.
What you need to do after your citizenship ceremony
Once you’ve got your certificate of British citizenship, you need to send your biometric residence permit back to the Home Office.
You need to do this within five working days of either:
- Going to your citizenship ceremony
- Getting your certificate of British citizenship
Cut your biometric residence permit (BRP) into four pieces and put it in a windowless envelope. Include a note saying you are returning your permit because you have become a citizen.
The note needs to include your name, date of birth and the document number, located on the front of the card.
Apply for British Citizenship with AWH
Help to apply for British citizenship
Applying for your citizenship is a really exciting time, so understandably you won’t want to get your application wrong and get rejected. That’s where we can help you.
Our team here at AWH will help you compile you British citizenship application, making sure that you have everything you need in order to have the best chance at success. We will be there to answer all of your questions and guide you through the process, ensuring that it stays as simple as possible for you.
Please note: A 30-minute consultation with one of our immigration experts can be held in our offices or over the phone or Skype. Please be aware that we do not offer free advice and will charge a non-refundable fee of £95 per consultation.
Starting the process couldn’t be more simple!
- Contact us Get in touch however suits you best and arrange a consulation with one of our solicitors
- Meet an expert You’ll meet the expert solicitor assigned to your case and discuss all the necessary details
- Authorise Once we’ve got all the details of your case and you’re happy to proceed, just give us the go-ahead
- We get to work It’s time for us to get to work! We’ll set up your file on our system and get to work right away
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