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UK vs US Citizenship: Where Should I Move?

The UK and US are arguably the most influential countries in the world, and their citizenships are most coveted. This article will show you the benefits of becoming a UK or US citizen and how you can become one.

If you decide to pursue citizenship in either country, we are here to help. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online. Call us at 0333 305 9375 for immediate help and assistance.


Which Country Has The Best Offers For Its Citizens: UK Or US

There are many benefits of becoming a citizen of the UK or the US. As a citizen of either country, you’ll enjoy the same rights and privileges that other citizens have. The decision to move to either country depends on your reason for moving.

The US is more extensive, has different landscapes, time zones, and climatic conditions, and is more culturally diverse. The UK, on the other hand, offers better healthcare.

Although both countries have different histories and cultures, their requirements for obtaining citizenship are similar. Find out the benefits of becoming a citizen in each country, plus the conditions for becoming one.

Benefits Of Being A UK Citizen

You’ll enjoy the following rights and privileges when you become a citizen of the UK.

  • Right to own a British passport: One of the most powerful on earth, the British passport provides you with visa-free passage into 139 countries. Seven other countries require the passport bearer to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) online, and 38 countries issue visas upon arrival to British citizens. The British passport proves your citizenship and right to reside in the UK.
  • Right to live, study, or work in the UK permanently: UK citizens have the freedom to stay in the UK for as long as they want; be it to work or study without any immigration restrictions.
  • Right to vote and be voted for: Becoming a citizen of the UK means you can vote in all elections (local and national) and referendums. It also gives you the right to run for public office.
  • Free movement in and out of the UK without restrictions: As a UK Citizen, you can travel out and remain outside for as long as you want without losing your ability to re-enter.
  • Right to free healthcare: British citizens enjoy free medical care through the UK’s NHS (National Health Service).
  • Right to receive help from the British Consulate when abroad.
  • Right to public funds available to only citizens.

British Citizenship VS Indefinite Leave To Remain

Like British citizenship, Indefinite Leave to Remain gives you the right to live and work in the UK permanently, but there are still some restrictions. You can’t leave the UK for longer than two years outside the UK. Your Indefinite Leave to Remain will be revoked once you stay more than two years outside the UK. You’ll need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa to re-enter the UK.

EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens with settled status under the EU settlement scheme have similar rights as Indefinite Leave to Remain holders. The difference is that they can stay outside the UK for up to 5 years. Their settled status will be revoked on failure to return to the UK within five years.

Those with settled status and Indefinite Leave to Remain cannot vote in all elections and are not eligible for a UK passport.

How To Become A British Citizen

The most common way foreign nationals become British citizens is via naturalisation. To naturalise, you must have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.

Another route to becoming a UK citizen is marriage or birth. If you’re married to a British citizen or in a civil partnership with one, you can apply for citizenship once you’ve obtained your settled status. You’ll become a legal citizen of the UK once your application is successful and you’ve attended the British citizenship celebration.

You’re automatically a British citizen if any of your parents hold UK citizenship at the time of your birth, whether you were born in the UK or not. If you were born in the UK and any of your parents hold a permanent residency, settled status, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’re automatically a British citizen.

Requirements For Citizenship By Naturalisation

To be eligible for British citizenship by naturalisation, you must:

  • Have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.
  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Have held a settled status, permanent residency, or Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least one year.
  • Have passed the Life in the UK test.
  • Be fluent in the English language.

Get in touch with our expert lawyers for assistance on your immigration application.

How To Apply For A British Citizenship

You can either apply online by yourself or seek assistance from immigration lawyers. If you’re applying by yourself, all you need to do is:

  • Fill out the online form.
  • Upload copies of required documents to the portal.

Because of COVID-19, citizenship applications now take longer than six months for decisions to be reached. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be booked for an appointment at a UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service) for biometric capturing. You can also submit your documents during your appointment if you cannot upload them online.

If you’re hiring an immigration lawyer to help with the process, ensure the lawyer is registered with the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) or any other recognized legal organisation. IAS immigration lawyers are always available to help.

US Citizenship

Once you’ve got your green card, the next step is to apply for citizenship. To be eligible for US citizenship, you must have demonstrated commitment to the country and its constitution. US citizenship comes with lots of benefits and obligations.

Benefits Of Becoming A US Citizen

Becoming a citizen of the US gives you the following rights.

  • Right to own a US passport: Once you’ve obtained your certificate of naturalisation, you can apply for an American Passport. Having an American passport grants you visa-free entry into over 100 countries.
  • Right to vote in all elections (Federal and local): While green card holders may vote in some local elections, only US citizens can vote in federal elections.
  • Right to live and work in the US permanently: You can live, study, and work in the US without fear of deportation. American citizenship also gives you a right to a fair hearing when charged with a crime.
  • Ability to apply for green cards for relatives: Becoming an American citizen allows you to sponsor your parents, siblings, and adult children for their green cards.
  • Freedom to travel in and out of the US without immigration restrictions: You can travel out of the US for as long as you want and re-enter without restrictions once you’ve obtained citizenship.
  • Right to federal benefits available to only citizens: US citizenship gives you access to government benefit programs reserved for citizens. For example, it makes you eligible for federal college assistance.
  • Right to run for public office: As an American citizen, you’re free to run for and be elected into public office.
  • Right to apply for US government jobs: Federal employment is reserved for US citizens. Becoming one gives you the ability to apply for federal jobs.
  • Right to receive help from the American embassy if you travel abroad.

If you have any questions about a British or US citizenship application, our team is happy to assist.

Responsibilities and Obligations of a US Citizen

Becoming an American citizen comes with lots of responsibilities. As a US citizen, you’re expected to:

  • Uphold and defend the constitution
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • File US tax returns for life, whether you live in the US or not.
  • Serve in a jury when called upon
  • Serve in the military if the need arises.
  • Participate in your local community’s democratic processes

How To Become A US Citizen

US citizenship can be obtained by birth, naturalisation, or marriage. Naturalisation is the process by which foreign nationals with a green card and who have lived in the US for 3 to 5 years can become US citizens.

The US automatically grants citizenship to children born in the US by foreign nationals, whether they’re undocumented immigrants or they entered the country on temporary visas. The US does not grant citizenship to foreign government officials’ children, even when born in America.

Children of US citizens born abroad are granted citizenship by acquisition. However, the parents have to report their birth to the US consulate in their country of residence.

If you are married to a US citizen, you can apply for citizenship after three years of living in the country. You must have obtained your permanent residency.

Requirements for Citizenship

You must be a permanent resident of the US (a green card holder) to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Other requirements are as follows.

  • You must be 18 years or older.
  • You must be a green card holder and have lived in the US for 3 to 5 years.
  • You must meet the continuous residency requirement. This means that you must not have stayed outside the US for more than six months in the last 5 years.
  • Proof of residency in the same state or district (at least three months) .
  • Proof of Good Moral Character: You must not have been convicted of any serious crime during your stay in the US. The US does not grant citizenship to convicted criminals.
  • Show a good understanding of the English language and US history and culture.
  • You must pledge allegiance to the US constitution.

US Citizenship Application Process

Application for American citizenship is a step-by-step process. The steps involved are:

  1. Application for Naturalisation Form ( Form N-400): You can fill out the form online and submit it alongside supporting documents on the USCIS portal.
  2. Biometrics Appointment: After you’ve submitted your form and supporting documents, the USCIS will review your application and send you an application receipt notice. After that, you’ll be booked for an appointment to capture your biometric data. You’re expected to attend the appointment with your green card and ID. Your fingerprints will be sent to the FBI for a background check.
  3. Naturalization Interview / Citizenship Test: You’ll be summoned for an interview and exam a year after your citizenship application. The USCIS usually sends a letter containing the date and location of your interview. Your English fluency and knowledge of US history will be tested. You can retake the test if you don’t pass the first time, but remember that it will prolong your citizenship application process.
  4. Decision Letter: The USCIS will notify you of your results within four months after your test.
  5. Pledge the Oath of Allegiance: The USCIS can approve or deny your petition. If your application is successful, you’ll be notified and invited to a naturalisation oath ceremony where you must swear an oath of allegiance to America. Once you’ve taken the oath, you’ll be issued a citizenship certificate. Your application is invalid if you do not attend the oath ceremony.

The citizenship application fee is $680, which must be paid as you submit your application. You can apply for an American passport once you have your citizenship certificate.

If you’re planning to make a move to the US or the UK a strong immigration application is needed.

Supporting Documents Required When Applying For Citizenship

To apply for US citizenship, you’ll be required to submit the following supporting documents:

  • Photocopy of your green card or permanent residence card.
  • Your ID and those of your dependants (if applicable).
  • Proof of Good Moral Character.
  • Travel records (including expired passports).
  • Proof of previous and current marital status.
  • Transcript of income tax returns.
  • Bank accounts details.
  • Copy of arrest records ( if applicable).
  • Proof of military or civil service.

You must provide a certified translation if your supporting documents are not in English.

Dual Nationality Or Citizenship

The United States and the United Kingdom allow citizens to hold dual citizenship. Some countries do not. Countries like India and Japan require citizens to renounce their citizenship if pursuing British or American citizenship. Verify if your country of origin allows you to be a dual national before deciding what course to take.

Unlike America, which grants you automatic citizenship if you’re born in the US, the UK does not give automatic citizenship to children born in the UK. Their eligibility for citizenship depends on their parent’s immigration status at the time of birth.

A dual citizen is not entitled to help from the British or American consulates while in another country of citizenship.

How Can IAS Help You?

With a few exceptions, citizenship in the UK and the US requires very similar amounts of time spent as a resident. Each country has different benefits, as outlined above. It is simply a matter of deciding which country best matches your abilities and needs.

For a hassle-free application process, it is advisable to get professional assistance. IAS immigration lawyers are available to help. Our trained and experienced lawyers will assist you by ensuring your supporting documents are sufficient, assessing your eligibility, liaising with Home Office until your citizenship is processed, and preparing you for the required test and interview.

Call us at 0333 305 9375 for immediate help and assistance. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our professional services.

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

The United States has the most immigrant population. The country is home to over 50 million immigrants. Its immigrant population makes up 19% of the total immigrants in the world.

Having a baby in the United States makes your child automatically a US citizen, but it does not make you one. However, your child can sponsor you to come to the US after turning 21.

The UK citizenship process usually takes about six months. It takes a bit longer now because of COVID-19 safety measures.

Obtaining US citizenship takes between 18 and 24 months. The USCIS takes the time to review applications and run background checks before approving any application.

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