Overview of the UK Citizenship
When you become a British citizen, you have permission to work and live in the UK without any restrictions. After becoming a citizen, you can now apply for a British passport. You also have some other privileges like voting and accessing public funding.
Before you become a UK citizen, there are some eligibility requirements that you must meet.
You must have been born in the UK, have a British parent or parents who hold indefinite leave to remain, hold indefinite leave to remain yourself or be married to a British citizen.
This includes being in a civil partnership with a UK citizen and spending at least 3 years with them in the United Kingdom.
You must also meet certain resident and English language requirements to apply.
Before proceeding with your application, you must have permission to stay in the UK permanently. This means you cannot apply for British citizenship in Nigeria. You must be in the UK.
- Overview of the UK Citizenship
- Eligibility Requirements
- Routes to British Citizenship for Nigerians
- Residency Requirements
- English Language Requirements
- Life in the UK Test
- Good Character Requirement for British Naturalisation
- Impact of Convictions Abroad on Good Character
- Required Documents
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
You must first meet certain UK citizenship requirements to be eligible for British citizenship.
Firstly, you must live in the UK at the time of application.
You must also be:
At least 18 years of age at the time of application and have lived in the UK for at least 5 years.
Secondly, you can apply for British citizenship if you have a British spouse or civil partner and have lived with them in the UK for at least 3 years.
If you were born in the United Kingdom to a parent who is not a British citizen or hold indefinite leave to remain, you are not automatically considered a citizen, but you can apply for citizenship and the full rights that come with it.
Born in the UK
If you were born on or after 1 January 1983 and lived in the UK till you were 10 years old, you can apply to become a British citizen.
If you were born on or after 1 January 1983, and one of your parents is or became a British citizen before you turned 18, you can apply to become a British citizen.
British Citizenship By Marriage or in a Civil Union with a UK Citizen
Another route to citizenship you can explore is the marriage or partnership route. You can apply for British citizenship if you are in a civil union or married to a UK citizen. However, you must have lived with them in the UK for at least 3 years before you make your application. You must also have indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
Indefinite Leave to Remain Route
Depending on your immigration status, you will need to spend 2, 5 or 10 years in the UK to get indefinite leave to remain. The application usually takes 180 days to get a decision from the Home Office. If you live in the UK for at least 12 months after you get your indefinite leave to remain, you can apply for British citizenship.
As a Commonwealth Citizen
If you or your parents moved from Nigeria and stayed in the UK before 1 January 1973, you can apply for citizenship.
If one or two of your parents are British citizens but were not born in the UK, you can apply to become a citizen.
If you have held indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for at least one continuous year, you can now apply for British citizenship. You must meet the following residency requirements also:
- You have no criminal record
- You have not breached any immigration rules while living in the UK.
English Language Requirements
If you are applying to become a UK citizen, you must prove to the Home Office that you can adapt or have adapted to the country. One of the ways to show this is by proving that you can understand the English language properly. You can do this by taking a secure English language test (SELT) for listening and speaking at a centre approved by the Home Office. You can take tests with the following service providers:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- Trinity College London
The fee for the test is £150, and it is valid for 2 years.
The only exemptions to this are:
- If you have any academic degree or research that was carried out in English for a more significant part. Vocational courses are not proof enough. If you did not get your academic or research degree in the UK, it has to be verified. You must submit a copy of your certificate and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis. This confirms that, indeed, your study was done in the English language. If your degree was in English language but in a country where the majority aren’t English speakers, you would also have to get an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis as confirmation.
- If you are less than 18 and above 65 years.
- If you are between 60 and 64, the Home Office can exempt you from the language test if you have a condition that can prevent you from passing the test.
Life in the UK Test
Another requirement that you must meet is passing the Life in the UK test. This test tests your knowledge about how the UK works. You will be tested using questions about the UK’s legal system, politics, daily lifestyle and culture.
You do not need to retake this test if you took it when you applied for indefinite leave to remain.
If you are under 18 or above 65 years old, you do not need to take the test.
Applicants between the ages of 60 and 64 may be exempted from taking the test if they can prove that they have a condition that will prevent them from passing the test.
The test can be done as often as possible if you don’t pass the first trial. However, you must pay the exam fee each time you take it. The exam costs £50, and it is computer-based.
There is an official handbook available for study if you are interested in passing the test.
Good Character Requirement for British Naturalisation
When applying for citizenship through the naturalisation route, the Home Office wants to know if you have been on good behaviour since you arrived in the UK. If you have committed a criminal offence, left your taxes unpaid, declared bankrupt, owing the NHS or violated immigration rules, there is a high chance your application will be denied.
As part of your application, you must be truthful about anything that concerns you. Leaving important information out can also be a cause for application denial.
To prove that you are of good character, you must give the names of two British citizens who can stand in for you as referees. They must be above 25 and have a job or a business.
They must also not be related to you. They cannot also be employees of the Home Office or your agent.
It is also necessary to note that you should not use a British citizen who has been convicted of a criminal offence in the last 10 years.
Impact of Convictions Abroad on Good Character
If you have convictions in Nigeria or elsewhere outside the UK, it is necessary that you also mention these when applying for your British citizenship. If you don’t and the Home Office finds out, your application may be rejected.
It is also vital to note that convictions abroad will count in the UK if they are in line with or have the same sentence in the United Kingdom.
Here are the documents that you need to show when applying for British citizenship:
- Your ECOWAS passport
- Your Biometric Residence Permit Card (BRP)
- Your English language test results
- Your tax payment records
- Your employment history
- Your residence history
- Your Life in the UK test result
- Letters from two referees
- Proof of Immigration Status.
Applying for British citizenship is a huge step and requires detailed attention. It is a rigorous process that involves collecting documents and applying online. This can often be a daunting process. But IAS can help.
At IAS, we have the expertise and experience with British citizenship applications. We have helped many Nigerians with their UK citizenship applications, immigration advice and appeals. We are ready to help you reach your goal of being a British citizen.
Whether you’re looking for help with the citizenship requirements, unsure of the documents submitted for your application to be approved, or need general help regarding your eligibility, we can help.
Our office in Lagos is full of qualified lawyers who can help you during the application process. Applying for British citizenship can be burdensome, but you don’t have to bear the burden alone.
For more information about the services we provide and how we can help, you can reach out to a member of our team today. Get in touch with us online, call us on +23413438882 or +44 (0) 3316300929 today.
Last modified on October 25th, 2023 at 10:34 am
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It will cost £1,330 to apply for UK citizenship. You will spend £1,250 for the application, while £80 will be paid for the citizenship ceremony.
The fastest way to get UK citizenship is through the residency route. If you have stayed in the UK for at least 5 years, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You can apply for citizenship 12 months after your leave to remain application is approved.
Dual citizenship is being a citizen of two countries at the same time. You can be a Nigerian citizen as well as a UK citizen as both countries accept dual citizenship.