The benefits of becoming a British citizen
Becoming a British citizen comes with many benefits, as a British citizen you will be entitled to the same rights as all other British citizens, this includes:
- The right to live, work and study in the UK indefinitely – British citizens are not subject to any immigration restrictions and can live in the UK free from immigration rules.
- A right to a British passport – the British passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world, it allows visa-free travel to 139 countries across the globe as well as a further 7 countries with travel authorization obtained online and 38 countries in which you can apply for a visa upon your arrival rather than prior to it. With a UK passport you can travel freely in and out of the United Kingdom and this passport can also be used to prove your right to residency in the UK.
- The right to vote in elections – this includes local and national elections as well as referendums, you will also have the right to stand for public office.
- A right to free healthcare – all British citizens can access free healthcare through the UK’s national health service the NHS.
- A right to claim public funds – this includes a variety of benefits
What is the difference between British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain
British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain both allow you to live and work in the UK on a permanent basis, but there are differences between them.
With Indefinite Leave to Remain there are still restrictions on how long you can leave the United Kingdom for, if you leave the UK for more than 2 years your Indefinite Leave to Remain status will automatically be revoked. To enter the UK again after this you will need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa.
Citizens from the European Union, EEA and Switzerland who have settled status under the EU settlement scheme have similar rights to Indefinite Leave to Remain holder, however they can spend up to 5 years outside of the UK before their settled status is revoked.
Unlike Indefinite Leave to Remain holders and people with settled status, British citizens are not subject to any immigration restrictions. As a British citizen you can leave the United Kingdom for as long as you like and live in other countries without risking your citizenship.
Indefinite Leave to Remain holders and those with settled status are also not eligible for a British passport and cannot vote in all UK elections or stand for public office.
How can I become a British citizen?
Overseas nationals can become British citizens through a process called naturalisation. To naturalise as a British citizen you will usually need to have lived in the United Kingdom for at least 5 years, as well as this you will also need to meet the following requirements:
- Have held Indefinite Leave to Remain or another form of settled status for at least 12 months
- Meet the good character requirement
- Pass the Life in the UK Test
- Demonstrate a knowledge of the English language
If you are married to a UK citizen then you can apply to become a British citizen as soon as you are granted settled status.
If your British citizenship application is successful you will then need to attend a British citizenship ceremony, only after this will you be legally considered a British citizen.
Naturalisation is the most common route to British citizenship for overseas nationals but there are other routes to citizenship. You could automatically be a British citizen by Birth if one of your parents was a British citizen when you were born or if you were born in the UK and one of your parents had ‘settled status’, ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘permanent residence’ when you were born. If you do not have automatic citizenship you may still be able to be registered as a British citizen.
Can British citizens hold dual nationality?
Another benefit of being a British citizen is that the UK government allows British citizens to hold dual nationality. This means that you can retain your original nationality whilst also having British citizenship, giving you the benefits of two types of citizenship.
In order to hold dual nationality both countries governments must allow it, some countries require you to renounce your citizenship if you wish to become a citizen of another country so you should check what the nationality rules in your country are.
Although dual nationality comes with benefits from two countries its also worth noting that you may be required to uphold the duties of a citizen in both countries. For example, British-American dual citizens must pay US income taxes even if living and working in the United Kingdom.
How can IAS help?
UK citizens are entitled to a wide variety of rights and British citizenship comes with many benefits, however the process of applying for British citizenship is very complex. Our immigration lawyers are experts in UK nationality law and have helped many immigrants on their journey to British citizenship.
If you choose to hire one of our immigration lawyers to assist you with your British citizenship application they can assess your eligibility for UK nationality, assist you with filling in the application or registration form, help you to compile all of the supporting documents that you will need and can communicate with the Home Office on your behalf throughout the process.
Once you have become a British citizen our immigration lawyers can also help you to apply for your first UK passport.
For more information about our citizenship services, get in touch with our team today on 0333 331 7504.
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