- Citizenship through Marriage Eligibility
- How to get UK Nationality through Marriage
- Requirements to acquire UK Citizenship
- How much does it cost to apply?
- How long does this process take?
- Residency Requirements
- Good Character Requirement
- UK Nationality by Marriage
- How to apply for a British Passport
- Transfer UK Nationality to your children
- Apply for Citizenship if your partner dies
- Frequently asked questions
- How can I get help from the IAS
How do I get British citizenship by marriage?
British citizenship by marriage is a fundamental step for foreign spouses who wish to settle in the UK with their partners.
Once you are a naturalized British citizen, you will be able to live and work in the UK free from immigration controls.
It must be noted that this route to British citizenship is only available for those who are married or in a civil partnership with a UK national, providing that they have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least three years.
Get in touch with our team of professional immigration lawyers to learn more about our British citizenship advice services.
Can you get British citizenship by marriage?
According to UK nationality law, being married to, or in a civil partnership with a UK national does not automatically grant you the right to acquire British citizenship.
If you wish to ultimately settle in the UK with your partner, you need to follow the naturalisation route. This allows you to become a citizen of the United Kingdom, providing that you meet specific eligibility criteria.
While other applicants need to spend a qualifying period of five years in the UK before they can apply for British naturalisation, those who hold a Spouse Visa are usually eligible only after three years.
How to get British citizenship through marriage?
To apply for British citizenship through marriage, you can fill in the form AN online.
After you have submitted your paperwork and paid your application fees, you will need to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. Here your fingerprints and photos will be collected, and you will be able to scan and submit a copy of your documents.
If you don’t wish to apply online, you can send your form, your documentation and your paper payment slip to the UKVI or to the Governor of the territory if you are in a British Overseas Territory.
What are the British citizenship by marriage requirements?
British citizenship through marriage is the settlement route for those who are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK national or settled person.
To qualify, you must also meet the following citizenship requirements:
- Be aged 18 or older at the time of your application
- Be able to demonstrate your “good character”, meaning that you have not broken any UK law
- Have lived for at least three years in the UK
- Have been granted settled status under Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- Prove adequate knowledge of English by passing an accredited language exam
- Pass the Life in the UK test to show your commitment to British customs
Do I need to be a settled person to become a British citizen?
To qualify for British citizen through marriage, you must have lived in the UK for at least three years before the date of your application. Most importantly, you must be a settled person. In fact, holding ILR is one of the mandatory preliminary steps in your journey through British naturalisation.
Before you apply for citizenship in the UK, you must have one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR)
- EU Settled Status
- Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (that is the permission to move to the UK permanently from abroad)
It must be noted that, as a part of your citizenship application, you will be asked to provide proof of your permanent residence status.
How much does it cost to apply for British citizenship as a spouse?
It costs £1,300 to apply for British citizenship by marriage.
This fee does not include an additional charge of £19.20 to have your biometric information collected.
You must also take other fees into account while applying, including the cost of your English test and any professional translation for your documents that are not in English or Welsh.
How long does it take to acquire British citizenship by marriage?
After you have submitted your request to the Home Office, you will usually get an answer within 6 months. However, it may take longer for the UKVI to process your British citizenship case if you fail to provide adequate supporting documents, or if you made any mistake while completing your forms.
If your situation changes during your application (for example, if you divorce your partner), you must contact the UKVI as soon as possible.
What are the residency requirements for British citizenship through marriage?
To qualify for British citizenship as a spouse of a UK national, you must have lived in the UK for three years before you submit your application.
You are also required to meet the residency condition. In other words, you must not have:
- Spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the three-year qualifying period before your application
- Spent more than 90 days abroad in the last 12 months before you submit your forms
- Broken any UK immigration law at any time during your residency in the UK.
Do I need to be of “good character” to qualify for British citizenship?
Satisfying the “good character” requirement means that you must have respected UK law and fulfilled your obligations as a resident since the day you entered the country.
If you have a severe or recent criminal record, including any custodial sentence of more than 4 years, your British citizenship application will be refused. The same applies to those who have been guilty of an immigration offence in the last 10 years before their application, or that have first entered the country illegally.
Any imprisonment between 12 months and four years will impact your citizenship application unless at least 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.
British Citizenship by Marriage Application Advice
If you are married to a British citizen, and you cannot wait to settle in the UK, our team of immigration lawyers is happy to help you on your journey towards gaining British citizenship status. Based on your circumstances, your dedicated immigration lawyer will assess your case and investigate all your options to naturalise as a British citizen.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to receive advice on your British citizenship by marriage application.
British Citizenship by Marriage Application Assistance
Hire one of our immigration experts to ensure that there are no issues with your British citizenship by marriage application. Your dedicated IAS immigration lawyer will assess your eligibility and ensure that you hold all the necessary documentation. To support your case, we will also write a Letter of Representation and complete your application forms to the highest standard.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your British citizenship by marriage application.
What is the sound mind requirement?
Regardless of your current immigration status, you must be of sound mind to qualify for British citizenship. This means that you must be able to understand what becoming a citizen of the UK entails and that you are aware of the steps you are taking.
The Home Office may exempt some applicants from this requirement only in specific circumstances, for example, if being granted British naturalisation is in the applicant’s best interests.
If you are completing a citizenship application on behalf of your spouse who is not of sound mind, you will need to attach a letter stating your position as legal representant of that person and adequate documentation explaining his or her mental condition.
What happens after I get my British citizenship certificate?
As soon as you receive your British citizenship certificate, you must submit your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the Home Office within 5 working days.
Do not forget to attach a note explaining the reasons why you are returning your permit. If you fail to send your BRP back within this time frame, you will be fined up to £1,000.
Once you become a British citizen, you will not be allowed to enter the UK using your BRP. You can use your certificate of citizenship until you receive your passport.
If you do not wish to apply for a British passport, you can request a certificate of entitlement.
Do I need to attend a citizenship ceremony if my application is successful?
Those who acquire British citizenship by marriage or otherwise, and are 18 or over, are required to attend a citizenship ceremony at the end of their application process.
Your ceremony must be booked within three months of receiving an invitation from the Home Office. The event will be organised by your local council, and you are usually allowed to take up to two guests.
It costs £80 to attend a group ceremony, while private events may cost more, depending on your local council’s regulation.
If you are outside the UK, you can ask the embassy or consulate in the country where you live if you can have your ceremony there.
Can I apply for a British passport if I am married to a UK national?
Once you receive your British citizenship certificate, you can apply for your first adult passport. If you hold a British child passport, you can still use it until expires, even if you are aged 16 or over.
An adult passport is valid for ten years and can be used to demonstrate your status as a citizen of the United Kingdom. It is also accepted as your identification document when travelling abroad.
If you naturalise in the UK and obtain your passport, you will be free to leave the country and re-enter at any time without the need to apply for a Visa.
It costs £75.50 to apply online, while you will be charged £85 for a paper application. Fees may vary if you are submitting your forms from abroad.
If I acquire UK citizenship through marriage, will my children be British nationals?
As a general rule, children automatically acquire British nationality if they were born in the UK from at least one parent who is a British citizen or settled person.
However, it is always advisable to seek legal guidance to check if your children are eligible to obtain British citizenship in any other way.
Can I apply for British citizenship by marriage if my partner has died?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for citizenship if your British partner died before you submit your forms.
However, if you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, EU settled status or permanent residence status, you may be eligible for British nationalisation through other immigration routes.
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In order to make your application, you must meet the following criteria:
- You are 18 years-of-age or over at the time of your application
- You demonstrate good character, which means you cannot have a criminal record
- You have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or have EEA permanent residence
- You have not have broken any immigration laws, including overstaying any visa
- You are able to speak English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
- You meet the residential qualifying period of three years
- You are married to a British Citizen
During the application, you must be able to demonstrate adequate knowledge of the UK by passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test and meeting the English Language requirements.
Your Naturalisation application can only be completed by post, so you will need to gather all of your supporting documents in advance of your Naturalisation application. You will need to complete Form AN, Application for Naturalisation as a British Citizen, which is 30 pages long and includes guidance notes and an accompanying booklet.
Before completing your Naturalisation application, you may need to complete a language test and the Life in the UK test. You will also need to gather your travel details for the past five years, so it’s worth gathering this information in advance of your application.
You should make a copy of your completed Naturalisation application before submitting it by post. Once you have submitted it, the UK Home Office will complete checks on your application, including looking into your criminal record to see if there is any reason you wouldn’t be eligible for British Naturalisation. If approved, you will be invited to a Citizenship ceremony where you will be presented with a Certificate of Naturalisation. After this, you will be able to apply for a British passport, which is the most popular proof of ID for British citizens.
British Naturalisation processing times can vary. After sending your application it can take up to four weeks to receive confirmation. After that, a decision on your Naturalisation application will usually take around 6 months. You may be invited to attend an interview where you will need to speak without an interpreter during this process. After you have received your certificate of citizenship, you can apply for your first British passport.
If you are going to visit multiple Schengen countries, you must apply at the consulate of the destination you plan to visit first.
It is advisable to submit your Schengen Visa application at least 15 days before the start date of your trip. However, you cannot submit your application form any earlier than three months prior to the time you intend to enter the Schengen Area.
Applying for British Naturalisation can be very complex and often very stressful. At IAS, our team of specialist lawyers are dedicated to helping relieve this stress.
- ensure that you have all of the appropriate documents needed for the application;
- confirm that you meet the requirements for British Citizenship;
- make sure that you have adequate proof of your marriage or civil partnership;
- make sure that all the information on your application form is filled out to the highest standard and that the chances of your Naturalisation application being accepted are maximised; and
- prepare you for your Life in the UK test, which you will need to pass in order to proceed with your application.
Get in touch by calling 0333 363 8577 or making an enquiry online to speak with an immigration lawyer about your application for British Citizenship by marriage.