- Overview of British Naturalisation
- Eligibility Requirements for UK Naturalisation
- Supporting Documents for UK Naturalisation Application
- UK Naturalisation if you are not a Spouse of a British Citizen
- Naturalisation as a Spouse of a British Citizen
- Main Legal Aspects for UK Naturalisation
- UK Naturalisation Application Processing Time.
- UK Naturalisation Timeline
- UK Naturalisation Timeline for Spouses of British Citizens
- UK Naturalisation for EU Nationals
- UK Naturalisation Application Process
- Naturalisation Application Refused?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of British Naturalisation
British naturalisation is the legal procedure of becoming a British citizen for UK residents who are not British by birth. Those who get naturalised as British citizens will be eligible for a UK passport. They will also have the same rights and privileges as those who are British by birth. They will be able to live, work, and are permitted to get public funds in the UK. Naturalised British citizens will also be unrestricted by immigration control. Being free of immigration control implies you can travel into and out of the UK at will, and freely for the rest of your life, essentially removing the need for a visa.
UK Naturalisation Timeline
The timeline for applying for UK Naturalisation if you are not relying on marriage or civil partnership and if you are an EU national who arrived in the UK after 1 January 2021, is typically as follows:
Year 1 – Arrival into UK
The date you arrive in the UK with lawful permission to remain for a limited period – such as under a Skilled Worker visa – is when the clock starts in your UK residency for any future ILR or citizenship application.
Year 5 – Apply for ILR
After five years of continuous residence in the Uk with lawful status, you become eligible to apply to settle permanently through ILR. Once granted ILR status, you have to wait twelve months before you become eligible for naturalisation.
Year 6 – Apply to Naturalise
After living as a permanent resident with ILR for a full year, you can make the naturalisation application.
UK Naturalisation Timeline for Spouses of British Citizens
The timeline for applying for British Naturalisation if you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen is as follows:
Year 1 – arrival into UK
The date you arrive in the UK with lawful permission to remain for a limited period – such as under a Spouse visa – is when the clock starts in your UK residency for any future ILR or citizenship application.
Year 5 – Apply for ILR & Naturalisation
You can apply to settle in the UK indefinitely after 5 years. You must be able to show that you were living in the UK on the exact date 3 years prior to submitting your application.
Once you are granted ILR, you can apply straight away for citizenship.
Eligibility and Timeline Requirements for UK Naturalisation
In addition to the timeline between the application and decision, there’s also the eligibility timeline which you should be aware about.
Applicants for the UK naturalisation are required to meet specific legal requirements. You are qualified to apply for British naturalisation if you fulfill the following criteria:
- You are required to be 18 years old or over.
- You are required to have held settled status in the UK for at least 12 consecutive months. At the time of making your application, you are required to be either under Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or as an EEA national with EU-settled status or permanent residence in the UK
- You are required to have a certain period of steady presence in the UK. You may have your application rejected for excessive absences from the UK during the qualifying period. When calculating the number of days absent, the Home Office does not take into account days that were spent travelling.
- You are required to fulfil the English language requirements and to pass the Life in the UK test.
- You are required to be of ‘good character’. This includes not having a serious or recent criminal record and not having a record of breaking any immigration laws or conditions while in the UK.
- You are required to hold a record of valid and lawful immigration status during the qualifying residency period.
- You are required to have plans of making the UK your permanent home.
Supporting Documents for UK Naturalisation Application
In order to prove your eligibility, you are required to provide extensive supplementary documentation with your application form. The actual documents to deliver will depend on the respective circumstances of the applicants. It is advisable, therefore, to take professional guidance on what applicants are required to submit for their applications.
Generally speaking, you would be required to provide:
- Original passport with information on your current nationality
- Certificate of IELTS
- Proof of Life in UK test
- Proof of UK residence
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) authorisation or proof of you are currently no subject to UK immigration restrictions
- All travel documentation from the previous five years to prove continued presence in the UK
UK Naturalisation if you are not a Spouse of a British Citizen
If you are not seeking UK naturalisation due to marriage to a British citizen, you will need to show that:
- In the 12 months directly before your application, you have not been away from the UK for more than 90 days
- During the qualifying period of 12 months before application, you have not been subject to any time restrictions on your stay in the UK
- You were present in the UK on the exact date five years prior to making your citizenship application
- During this qualifying five-year period, you have not been away from the UK for more than 450 days
- During this qualifying five-year period, you did not breach any UK immigration laws
- You are of good character
- You have adequate knowledge of life in the UK
- You have adequate knowledge of the English language
- You intend to make the UK your permanent home
Naturalisation as a Spouse of a British Citizen
If you are applying for citizenship on the basis of your marriage to a British citizen of a person with UK settled status, you will need to show:
- In the 12 months immediately prior to your application, you have not been away from the UK for more than 90 days
- You were present in the UK on the exact date three years prior to making your citizenship application
- During this qualifying 3-year period, you have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days
- During this qualifying 3-year period, you did not breach any UK immigration laws
- On the date you are making your application, you are not subject to any time restrictions on your stay in the UK
- You are of good character
- You have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK
- You have sufficient knowledge of the English language
- You intend to make the UK your permanent home
Main Legal Aspects for UK Naturalisation
Even where certain requirements are not met, the Secretary of State has the power to deem applicants for UK citizenship as having met those requirements. This discretion can apply in relation to:
- There is “No time limit” requirement of 12 months. The requirement that at no point throughout the three or five-year qualifying period, you were in the UK in violation of immigration regulations.
- In addition, the Secretary of State may decide to waive the language and life in the UK requirements due to the applicant’s age, physical or mental condition.
- Any application for British citizenship relying on discretionary consideration requires specialist advice and supporting documentation.
- To qualify for British citizenship, you cannot have spent more than 90 days out of the country in the 12 months immediately prior to the date you make your application.
- In addition, over the five-year qualifying residency period, your total absences from the UK cannot be more than 450 days, or if you are the spouse of a British citizen, your absences during the qualifying 3-year period cannot total more than 270 days.
The following requirements cannot be waived by the Secretary of State or treated as satisfied by applicants:
- To have been a resident of the UK for the first three or five years of the qualification period (although there is considerable latitude for members of the armed forces);
- Having no time limit placed on your stay in the UK (i.e., having been granted indefinite leave to remain or acquiring the right to permanent residency);
- Be of good character
UK Naturalisation Application Processing Time.
The majority of British naturalisation applications are processed in 6 months. Decisions on more straightforward and well-prepared applications can be made in as little as 3-4 months, while more complex applications can take longer than six months. Processing times will also vary based on Home Office staffing and workload.
UK Naturalisation for EU Nationals
EU nationals who arrived in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 have to obtain full EU settled status and have held this status for five years before they become eligible for British citizenship.
EU nationals who arrived in the UK under the new points-based immigration system must have obtained lawful status through a relevant visa, and can only become eligible for naturalisation if their visa route allows this. For example, Skilled worker and spouse visa holders can become eligible for naturalisation after five continuous years of UK residency, while those on a start-up or visitor visa are not on a path to UK ILR.
UK Naturalisation Application Process
To apply for British citizenship, you have to make a formal application to the Home Office by completing the relevant application form, in most cases this will be Form AN for adults naturalising. You also have to submit all of the required supporting documentation and pay the application fee of £1,330.
In support of your application, you will also need to compile and submit documents to prove your eligibility.
The application form is 30 pages long and has accompanying guidance which you should read before you complete the document.
Form AN is extensive. You must fill out the form accurately and in full in order to prove your eligibility and avoid issues with your application.
The form is divided into various sections. You must include your personal information, information about your work situation in the UK, information about any dependents applying with you, and documentation of your UK residency.
If you are applying for citizenship on the basis of marriage, you will also need to provide additional documentation to prove your relationship is genuine and legal.
Additionally, information on your two designated referees must be provided. Your referees must attest to the accuracy of the information in your application form AN by signing and approving it.
You’ll need to include the following details with your Form AN:
- Personal Information – This contains details about you, such as your name and contact information, the names and contact information for your parents and partner, any pertinent employment information, and your familiarity with living in the UK.
- Residence requirements – This will contain information about your present place of residence in the UK as well as comprehensive records of any overseas trips you may have taken in the five years prior to your application. Details on permanent residency must be provided for EEA and Swiss nationals.
- Evidence of Good Character – You must disclose any details on previous convictions or criminal history. This includes any warnings you may have gotten. Even if the information concerning criminal conduct in the UK is of utmost importance, it’s equally crucial to disclose any convictions you may have gotten elsewhere.
- Referees – It’s critical that you have two officially appointed referees and are able to include complete contact and personal information for each person in form AN.
- Declaration – This is your chance to support your claim with evidence that shows you are qualified and suitable to get full British citizenship through naturalisation.
- The information concerning yourself, absences and documents that you submit in support of your application must be comprehensive or you risk the application being delayed or refused, with a loss of your application fee.
Naturalisation Application Refused?
UKVI also have powers to take action where it is alleged you have made a false statement or submitted a fraudulent document.
Once submitted, UKVI will then review your submission, cross-referencing with information such as HMRC records, verifying your visa status in the UK and as well as checking for any criminal or civil matters which may disbar you.
If your naturalisation application has been refused, you will need to understand the grounds for refusal to determine your next steps, whether that is to seek a reconsideration of the decision, to resubmit the application or to make a new one. For example, was there an error in completing the form, did you pay the incorrect fee or was the application refused on discretionary grounds? Given what is at stake, taking advice can help to understand your options and how best to proceed.
However, it is important to note that while your citizenship application is being processed, you remain subject to immigration control and must provide proof at the border of your permission to enter the UK, such as evidence of your ILR status. The decision to allow you to re-enter the UK will be at the discretion of border officials.
Applying for UK Naturalisation can be a reasonably daunting procedure especially when you are not a spouse of a British citizen. There are a handful of documentation submissions to be done which may prove time-consuming as you progress.
If you require any assistance with your UK Naturalisation, such as if you’re unsure or uncertain about the application method and what you need to do in order to be authorised, IAS can help.
We are a formidable team of professional and knowledgeable immigration lawyers who have years’ worth of experience working in UK immigration law. We have helped countless people overcome hurdles to come and settle in the UK, and we can help you to do the same, too.
Whether you need expert advice on how to prove your financial status or your health insurance meets the requirements, or you need help determining how to prove suitability to apply after being away from the UK for some time, we can be of help. We can also provide assistance with assembling your supporting documents, or offer support if your UK Naturalisation application has been rejected, we can be there for you to help guide you through the process.
For more information about UK Naturalisation, including what you need to do to be eligible for it, how to apply, and expert advice for your application, reach out to us today on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.
Last modified on May 24th, 2023 at 3:47 pm
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Yes, you are permitted to travel in and out of the UK while your naturalisation application is being processed.
You become eligible to apply for British citizenship after five years with UK settled status – either full EU settled status or Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless you are becoming a British citizen through marriage. If you are married to a British citizen or a UK settled person, you can apply to naturalise as a British citizen after three years of living in the UK and as soon as you are granted ILR, ILE or EU settled status.
If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you are granted ILR. If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you have to wait 12 months from the date you are granted ILR before you can make your naturalisation application.
You are permitted to leave the UK while your UK naturalisation citizenship application is being processed, provided you have retained your original passport. This means for your citizenship application, you should submit a fully certified copy of your passport and keep your original passport for travel purposes.