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How Long Does It Take To Get UK Citizenship

As a Nigerian, you need to wait for a minimum of 5 years to be able to apply for British citizenship.

IAS can help you apply for British citizenship. Call us on +23413438882, at our UK Office on +44 (0) 3316300929, or visit us online.


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We have successfully assisted numerous Nigerians with their British Citizenship application. If you need help and don’t know where to start, do not hesitate to contact us for immediate support. Let us handle all the complexities and make your application process as stress-free as possible.

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If you become a British citizen, you have the legal right to live and work in the country without being subject to any immigration restrictions.

Before you may submit an application for a British passport, you must first become a citizen of the United Kingdom. In order to reside in the United Kingdom on a permanent basis, you are required to get the appropriate authorisation, such as “settled status” from the EU Settlement Scheme or “indefinite leave to remain.” Even if your husband, wife, or civil partner is a citizen of the United Kingdom, you are still required to complete this step.

In addition to this, you will need to fulfil several more conditions. If your husband, wife, or civil partner is a citizen of the United Kingdom, it will be much simpler for you to fulfil the criteria. If you are a citizen of a nation in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, or a member of their family, there are a few different methods in which you might satisfy the criteria.

Before you begin the application process, you need to find out what kind of status you are required to have as well as any other conditions that apply to you.

Flag of the United Kingdom

Eligibility time

Continuous Residency Requirements

You must demonstrate that you have resided in the UK for at least five years and that during that period, you have met the following criteria:

  • Spent not more than 450 days outside the UK throughout those five years, or 270 days outside the UK during the previous three years
  • Maximum of 90 days outside the UK during the previous calendar year.

90 Days Rule for British Citizenship

In order to be eligible for citizenship in the United Kingdom, you will need to have spent no more than 90 days outside the country in the year immediately before the day on which you submitted your application for British citizenship by naturalisation.

If you are not married to a British citizen, you will furthermore be required to demonstrate that you have spent less than 450 days outside of the United Kingdom during the course of the previous five years.

You will need to have spent no more than 270 days outside of the UK in the three years prior to applying for citizenship in the UK if you are married to a British citizen.

London Eye under a blue sky

Differences in Residency Requirement For Different British Citizenship Routes

Spouse Route

Generally speaking, you may apply for citizenship through the spouse route after around 5 years; however, you might need to wait several months before each of your requests is approved. You would need to wait 10 years before applying for ILR if you fail to meet the financial or English language requirements. Consequently, if you choose this method, it can take you at least 10 years to become a citizen.

European Economic Area National

As an EEA national, you must typically wait at least six years before you may seek citizenship. You must restart your five-year term if you have spent more than two years outside the UK during that time since it will no longer be considered five years of “continuous” residence.

You must resume the five-year term if you stop using your treaty rights during that time.


As a refugee, it typically takes at least 6 years to petition for British citizenship. Many refugees are unaware of the ‘good character’ condition of the naturalisation application when seeking for British citizenship.

They think they may seek for naturalisation after five years of lawful residence in the UK.

The Home Office, however, has put a 10-year restriction on persons who have been associated with immigration-related concerns. This may include sneaking into the UK or dodging immigration checks.

General Migrant

As a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, the application process for British citizenship typically takes at least 6 years to complete. If you leave the United Kingdom for more than 180 days in any period of 12 months, your continuity of residence will be broken, and you may be required to seek further leave to stay instead. This will make it take longer for you to become a citizen of the United Kingdom.

Processing Time for British Citizenship Application

Spouse or Partner Route

As a spouse, the conventional path to citizenship would look like this:

  • Marriage;
  • Requesting entrance clearance as a spouse – visa processing periods for Nigerian are often no more than six months;
  • If your application is approved, you will be given permission to stay for 2.5 years (no more than 33 months);
  • If you and your British spouse are still together, you may request an extension of FLR(M) for an additional 2.5 years (no longer than 30 months);
  • The next stage is to submit an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after you have lived together continuously for at least five years (60 months). ILR is when a person has indefinite permission to stay in the UK and enjoys the advantages of being a British citizen (such as access to public finances and the NHS), but they are still considered to be citizens of their country of birth.
  • You may apply for naturalisation as a British citizen after you obtain ILR.

To summarise, after about five years of being married to your partner, you are eligible to submit an application for citizenship; however, it is possible that you will need to wait a few months for each of your applications to be approved.

Buckingham Palace in London

European Economic Area National (EEAN) or a family member of EEAN

The general process as follows:

  • As an EEA citizen, all you need to enter the UK is a current passport or national identification card from an EEA nation. Before visiting the UK, if you are a non-EEA family member of an EEA person, you must apply for an EEA family permit. It’s suitable for six months;
  • You may apply for a registration certificate or residency card to make it simpler to demonstrate your eligibility to live and work in the UK; however, this is not required;
  • You are eligible to apply for permanent residence if you have been in the UK continuously for five years. You must have met the criteria for the five years.If your spouse was a “qualified” person or had a permanent address for the whole 5-year period, and you are a non-EEA family member, then.
  • If you have the paperwork attesting to your permanent residency, you may apply for British citizenship one year after you pass the test.

To summarise, in order to be eligible to submit an application for EEA citizenship, one must typically wait a minimum of six years after becoming a national of the EEA.

For Refugees

Although the amount of time it takes for a person with refugee status to become a citizen of the United Kingdom might vary, the overall procedure consists of the following steps:

  • Make an application for asylum in the United Kingdom; if your application is successful, you will be awarded five years’ worth of refugee status or permission to stay for humanitarian grounds;
  • You are eligible to submit an application for indefinite permission to stay (ILR) when 5 years have passed;
  • Before you may apply for British citizenship, you are required to have Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least a year.

As a result, and to summarise, the process of applying for citizenship as a refugee in the United Kingdom often takes at least six years.

We have a team of lawyers with a proven track-record of helping Nigerians with their immigration cases. Choose us for your British citizenship application, today.

UK flag hanging off house

For General Migrants

The amount of time it takes for a person with a Tier 2 (overall) visa to become a citizen might vary, but the overall procedure consists of the following steps:

  • If you have been given a skilled job in the UK, you should submit an application for entrance clearance using a Tier 2 (General) visa
  • When you apply for anything from outside of the UK, the processing period is often less than three weeks. In most cases, the duration of this privilege is limited to no more than 5 years and 1 month
  • On the other hand, the duration of leave normally corresponds to the length of the job contract plus 14 additional days if the total time is less than 5 years and 1 month
  • After living in the United Kingdom legally for five years in a row as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, you are eligible to submit an application for indefinite leave to stay (ILR)
  • Before you may apply for British citizenship, you will need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain for a minimum of a year

To summarise, if you are applying for British citizenship under the General Migrant category (Tier 2), the process typically takes at least six years.

How Can IAS Help?

The procedure for applying for permanent residency in the United Kingdom may be time-consuming and stressful at times. But IAS can assist you with getting most of all that you have to do.

At IAS, you may obtain experienced help on your British citizenship application. We have a track record of supporting a large number of people from Nigeria with the application procedure, which has allowed them to successfully grow this process. You may count on us to assist you as well.

If you are seeking assistance with meeting the requirements for permanent residency, are unclear about the paperwork that needs to be submitted, or want general assistance on your eligibility, we are able to assist you.

At your service is a group of highly knowledgeable lawyers that specialise in immigration law.

Contact a member of our team if you would like more information about the services that we provide and the ways in which we may be of assistance to you. Today, please contact us online, by calling +23413438882 or +44 (0) 3316300929.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In order to submit an application for British citizenship, you will first need to meet a long list of requirements. The most crucial thing is that you have to have settled status in the UK.

Before you start the process of applying for naturalisation to become a citizen of the United Kingdom, there are a few things you should think about:

  • Immigration Time – When you apply for British citizenship, one of the requirements is that you must be free from immigration time constraints on the day you submit your request. This often implies that you must have obtained settled status before you apply for citizenship.
  • Good character – The requirement of having a good character states that anybody applying for British citizenship who is 10 years old or older must be of good character. This indicates, in essence, that you are required to demonstrate respect for the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom, to have respected its laws, and to have performed your responsibilities and obligations as a resident of the country. The Home Office will conduct background and financial checks on the individual.
  • Requirement of a Sound Mind – Applicants for British citizenship are expected to demonstrate that they possess the required level of mental ability, however in certain instances this condition may be disregarded. When you apply for British citizenship, this demonstrates that you are capable of making your own choices and are aware of the next step you are taking in the process.
  • Dual Nationality: If you want to apply for British citizenship, you do not have to give up the citizenship you already have since Nigeria will allow you to have dual citizenship if you apply for it. If you are now a citizen of the United Kingdom and you go on to become a citizen of Nigeria, you will not, under most circumstances, lose your citizenship in the United Kingdom unless the new country forces you to relinquish your citizenship in the United Kingdom.

Even though candidates must be at least 18 years old in order to be eligible for naturalisation in the UK, parents are still able to register their children for citizenship in the country. In point of fact, members of your family may be included in your application so long as they already have the right to remain in the country indefinitely.

If your children are at least 13 years old and have been residing in the United Kingdom for at least two years previous to their application for naturalisation, then they will be eligible for naturalisation.

Children who were born in the UK before you achieved ILR or EU Settled Status may become eligible. You can apply for permanent residence in the UK as soon as you get your settlement status in the UK. This entitlement may be acquired as soon as you obtain your settlement status. On the other hand, a child who is born in the United Kingdom to parents who are not British but who have already established themselves in the nation is granted British citizenship at the time of birth.

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