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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:
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.
To apply for British Citizenship you will need to meet the requirements specified by the Home Office.
You will also need to hold Permanent Residency (or settled status). This is most commonly in the form of Indefinite Leave to Remain. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Of course, there are additional requirements for an EEA national to apply to become British so it is advisable that you speak to one of our immigration lawyers who will be able to help you through the process. There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British Citizen, so it is best to consult a professional immigration lawyer to discuss the best options for your application.
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.
IAS advise and assist many people with their application for British Citizenship.
One of our qualified lawyers will assist you by:
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