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How soon after ILR can you apply for British Citizenship?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settled status which is available to those who have spent a certain amount of time in the UK.

Being granted ILR is a key part of being able to naturalise as a British citizen but it is important to understand it is not always possible to apply for British citizenship immediately.

For more information about British citizenship and making an application reach out to one of our expert immigration advisers for more information. Call us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.


Applying for British Citizenship after ILR

In some situations it is possible to apply for British citizenship as soon as you are given Indefinite leave to remain status. However, this is only the case for anyone who is already married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen. If this applies to you then you are able to submit an British citizenship application straightaway.

In addition, any child aged under 18 can apply for British citizenship straightaway if their parent or guardian already holds Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status.

However, in the majority of cases, you must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for a minimum of one year before you can apply to become a British citizen – and this is in addition to time spent in the UK in order to qualify for ILR. Therefore, for most people applying for British citizenship the process can involve living in the UK for a six year period at least.

Difference Between Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship?

Indefinite Leave to Remain usually takes at least five years of living continuously in the UK on a qualifying visa. There are some visas that allow this length of time to be shortened and settled status to be granted early. You should seek advice from qualified immigration experts to find the exact time limit on being granted indefinite leave.

Those who hold ILR status are able to remain in the UK to live, work and study for an unlimited period of time completely free of immigration control and immigration rules. However, there are not a British national and therefore do not have the same rights as a British citizen.

There are a number of benefits to holding British citizenship compared to ILR status. One of the key advantages is that your immigration status become permanent and you are able to have permanent residence in the UK for life.

British citizenship also means you can apply for a British passport and are free to travel in and out of the UK without any immigration time restrictions on your return.

In addition, becoming a British citizen under UK immigration law entitles you to the following benefits which are not accessible under ILR status:

  • Right to vote in general and local elections
  • Access to NHS medical care
  • Potentially British citizenship for your family members, such as children and your partner if they are not already a UK citizen
  • No immigration restrictions on your right to work/study/live in the UK and hold a British passport

Qualifying for British Citizenship with ILR Status

To become gain British nationality with Indefinite Leave to Remain status and be able to live in the UK permanently you must meet a range of conditions about how long you have lived in the UK and whether you should be successfully granted British citizenship:

  • During your time in the UK prior to applying for British citizenship, you must not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK
  • In the 12 months prior to applying for British citizenship, you must not have spent more than 90 days overseas
  • Not breached any immigration laws during your time in the UK
  • You must be able to demonstrate you are of “good character” and not have criminal convictions or committed a criminal offence during your time in the UK.
  • Have a good standard of the English language and understanding of the country’s history/customs by passing a Life in the UK test.
  • Valid intentions of settling permanently in the UK

Applying for British Citizenship with Settled Status

It is possible to apply online for British citizenship and this is often the easiest way to complete the required application form. You are able to submit the required documents online as well as paying the application fee directly.

When starting the application process you should make sure you have all the supporting documents to hand including:

  • Your current passport and any Biometric Residence Permit
  • Evidence of your marriage (if you are applying as a spouse or civil partner)
  • Evidence of your lawful residence in the UK
  • Proof of your Life in the UK test and knowledge of the English language

All of these documents should be in English or Welsh. If they are not then you must submit certified translated copies otherwise you could face delays to your UK citizenship application.

Once you have completed the online application you will be asked to attend a in-person appointment at a visa application centre to provide biometric information.

Applying for British citizenship can be a incredibly complex process and it can take up to six months for a decision to be reached. However, during this time you are allowed to remain in the UK under your current settle status.

Remember to make sure you include a valid telephone number on your application for British citizenship so if they are any questions about your naturalisation application then the Home Office will be able to get in contact quickly and resolve any potential issues promptly.

The British Citizen Ceremony

Once your application to become a British citizen is successful. You will be invited to attend a British citizenship ceremony and receive your certificate of citizenship.

It is important that you attend this ceremony within 90 days otherwise you could risk having to reapply to become a British citizen again.

The ceremony can be booked via your local authority/council. As part of the ceremony you will swear allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and declare an oath of loyalty to the United Kingdom.

Applying for a British Passport as a British Citizen

Once you become a British citizen, many people opt for apply for a British passport. Applying for a UK passport is straightforward and you can apply online or by post.

As this will be your first UK passport you may need to attend a face-to-face interview so that your identity can be verified.

Contact us today if you require assistance with your British citizenship application.

How Can IAS Help?

A certificate of British Citizenship is an important document that proves your right to live and work in the UK indefinitely without being subject to any immigration restrictions.

IAS can help. We are expert legal advisers specialising in UK immigration law, with years’ worth of experience helping individuals with their immigration issues. We can help establish your eligibility for a certificate of entitlement, assist you throughout the application process, and even liaise with the Home Office to keep track of your application as it gets processed.

For more information about the services we offer and how we can help you, get in touch with us today on 0333 305 9375, or talk to us online today.

We’re here to help with your British Citizenship immigration issue.

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