How to apply for British citizenship

You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if you can prove that you have been living in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least three years before your citizenship application. You are married to or living in a civil partnership with a UK citizen (if you are applying for British Citizenship as a spouse). You must be 18 to apply. If your British citizenship application is approved, you can stay in the UK and live and work without any immigration restrictions.

Depending on your current citizenship status or nationality, eg, if your parents are British or you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you can become a British citizen through either the process of British Naturalisation or Registration. To naturalise as a British citizen, you need to have held ILR or Permanent Residence status for at least 12 months. During this time, you must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in total.

Applying for British Citizenship through either of these processes gives you the same rights as those born in the UK. As a British Citizen, you are able to work, live, vote, receive public funds and raise dependants in the UK.

How can we help you make your British Citizenship application?

Our immigration lawyers can help you through your application for British Citizenship process. One of our lawyers can assess your eligibility, perform a full document check and complete your application form to the best standard. He/she can also prepare a Letter of Representation which will accompany your application. This letter advises the Home Office to accept your application by describing its merits and any UK laws which support it. We can also assist you by helping you to prepare for both your Life in the UK test and your English Language test. For more detailed information on the requirements for British citizenship.

Call 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry to begin your journey towards becoming a British Citizen.

British citizenship FAQs

What is British Citizenship?

Naturalisation is the process of becoming a citizen of another country. For people coming to the UK, British Naturalisation is a process that will allow them to live and work in the UK free from immigration controls. Unless you are British by descent, you will have to apply for British Naturalisation to become a British citizen. There are various requirements you must meet to be eligible to apply for Naturalisation. You must:

  • be aged 18 or over;
  • be of sound mind and good character;
  • intend to continue living in the UK;
  • have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK;
  • be able to acceptably communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic; and
  • meet the residential qualifying period of five years (three for spouses/civil partners of a British Citizen).

If you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or you are the family member of such a person, and you have exercised EEA free-movement rights in the UK for a continuous five year period you will automatically have Permanent Residence status. However, you must hold this status for 12 months before applying for Naturalisation.

Read our guide on completing the application form for British Citizenship.

Can I apply for British Citizenship?

You can apply for British Citizenship if you have held settled status for three years or more. This is most commonly in the form of Indefinite Leave to Remain. If you are applying for British Citizenship as a spouse, you will only need to show three years’ continuous residence at the time of your citizenship application. However, you will still need to have held ILR for at least a year.

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of continuous residence on the same visa type. If you have switched visas during your stay in the UK, your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain will have different requirements.

If you are applying for British Citizenship as a spouse, you will only need to show three years’ continuous residence at the time of your citizenship application. However, you will still need to have held ILR for at least a year.

What do I need to know about how to apply for British Citizenship?

There are many requirements you will need to meet in order to apply for British Citizenship. Here are a few things you should consider before starting your Naturalisation application for British Citizenship:

Immigration Time Restrictions – when applying for British Citizenship you must be free from immigration time restrictions on the day you make your application which often means having gained settled status before you apply.

Good Character Requirement – any applicant aged ten or over must be of good character to apply for British Citizenship. Essentially this means that you must show respect for the rights and freedom of the UK, have observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident. The Home Office will carry out criminal and financial checks.

Sound Mind Requirement– applicants must satisfy the full capacity requirement when applying for British Citizenship (although in some cases this may be overlooked). This means that you are able to make your own decisions and understand the step you are taking when you apply for British Citizenship.

Dual Nationality – you do not need to renounce your existing citizenship as many countries will let you have Dual Nationality when you apply for British Citizenship. If you are a national of a country who does not allow this, your country of origin may regard you as having lost your existing nationality or refuse to recognise your new nationality. If you are currently a British Citizen you will not normally lose this status if you become the citizen of another country unless the new country requires you to give up your British nationality.

For more on the requirements for British Citizenship

What are the British Citizenship fees?

The increased British Citizenship application fees for 2018/19 are:

  • Adult registration as a British citizen fee: [Old fee] £1,163 [New fee] £1,206
  • Child registration as a British citizen fee: [Old fee] £973 [New fee] £1,012
  • Naturalisation fee: [Old fee] £1,282 [New fee] £1,330

All types of application have significantly increased since 2017/18. The increase is £43 for adult registration applications, £39 for child registration applications and £48 for naturalisation applications.

What is a citizenship ceremony?

When naturalising as a British citizen, you will also need to pay to attend your British Citizenship ceremony. You will pledge to respect the rights, freedom and laws of the UK along with many other new citizens.

You must attend this ceremony before you can be recognised as a British national.

Can I register as a British Citizen?

You may instead be able to register as a British Citizen although there are various complicated categories here including if you are a British Overseas or Overseas Territory Citizen, you have previously given up your citizenship, you are a person who is stateless or a child under 18. This includes children in the country on a dependent child visa or children born in the UK to non-British parents.

In certain cases, you may also be able to claim British citizenship through grandparents. Cases of this nature are complex and judged individually.

British parents of children born outside of the UK will need to apply for British citizenship for child born abroad as their child will not be recognised as a British citizen at birth.

Each category has different requirements that must be met.

What do I need to know about how to apply for a British passport?

Once you have obtained British Citizenship you will be free from UK immigration control and you will be able to apply for a British passport.

This is the most acceptable evidence of British Citizenship although, alternatively, you may be able to apply for a Nationality Status Document if you do not have the right documentation to apply for a passport.

British Nationality Law and applications for British Citizenship can be extremely complex and using the services of an immigration expert is highly recommended. Click here to find out more about how to apply for a British passport.

I am an EEA national, when can I apply for British Citizenship?

Usually, as an EEA national you will be eligible to become a British Citizen once you have been living in the UK for a period of five years or more from the date of your application.

You can apply for Permanent Residency (PR) in the UK if you have been in the UK for a period of five years without having been outside of the UK for more than 90 days within any 12 month period. You will then be able to apply to become a British Citizen 12 months after you have been granted Permanent Residency, provided you meet the eligibility requirements, which include the English language requirement, as well as not having been outside the UK for more than 450 days during your five-year stay.

With Brexit approaching, the UK government is planning to change the way European citizens register in the UK. To secure your status after the UK leaves the EU, citizens will need to register using the Settlement Scheme.

Settled Status will be granted to those who have been in the UK for at least five years. Once you have held this for one year you will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.

What if I don’t meet the good character citizenship requirement?

Previous offences and convictions are likely to affect your citizenship application, although this does depend upon the type of conviction or offence.

For more information, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable immigration expert. Our teams of lawyers will be able to advise as to when a conviction will become spent and when it is possible to apply for citizenship. We will also be able to advise you on if your conviction will affect you when applying for British nationality.

How can IAS help?

IAS advise and assist many people with their application for British Citizenship.

One of our qualified lawyers will assist you by:

  • checking your supporting documents to ensure that they are enough to support your application;
  • assessing your eligibility for British Citizenship;
  • liaising with the Home Office during your application process;
  • preparing a Letter of Representation to be submitted alongside your application;
  • completing each part of your application form to a high standard;
  • ensuring you are prepared for the ‘Life in the UK’ test; and
  • ensuring you are properly prepared to pass your English language test.

Call 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry to get expert advice.

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British citizenship lawyers

Our British citizenship specialists can assist you if you want to permanently settle in the UK by applying for British citizenship. We provide a full range of services, from advice to application, to full appeal assistances if your application has been rejected. Get in touch now to find out more about British citizenship applications.

Case studies

We are proud to have changed lives for the better. Here are some of their stories:

Kemala: Staying in the Country After Marriage Breakdown

Kemala had entered the UK on a Spouse Visa with her two children. After two years, her marriage broke down due to violence.
Worried for her and her children’s future… Read More

Samy: Tier 4 Student Visa

Samy from the Democratic Republic of Congo was accepted into a UK University. However, he had a wife and two daughters and was unsure about leaving his family behind so… Read More

Joginder: Tier 2 to Tier 4

Joginder is a Kenyan National who had been working in the UK under a Tier 2 Visa.
Although he was given the option to extend his Tier 2 Visa, he… Read More

Fred and Robin: Relocating to the UK

Fred and Robin wanted to relocate from the USA to the UK. They were unsure of their options so they contacted IAS to seek guidance. Fred is a UK National… Read More

Hector: Tier 2 Work Visa with Dependant

Hector, a Mexican National, was offered employment in the UK. He contacted IAS and spoke with one of our lawyers via Skype. Hector was told that he could not stay… Read More

Joyah: Indefinite Leave to Remain

Joyah was a Malaysian doctor in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa. She had been applying for successive visas every one or two years and was intending to regularise her… Read More

Latest reviews

Liubomir
I worked with Nasreen (IAS) from Leeds office on obtaining British citizenship for the last few months. We did two… Read More
Anonymous

IAS evaluated my situation properly and successfully tailored my application to secure a happy result

Katherine

Excellent service! Would definitely recommend to anyone needing help with immigration issues. Our lawyer was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

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