British citizenship through Naturalisation: Everything you need to know
There are various ways a person may obtain British citizenship. The most common method of becoming a British citizen is via naturalisation.
What is Naturalisation?
Naturalisation is the legal process by which a Non-British adult becomes a British citizen. The criteria and process obtaining British citizenship has changed over the years, however, for successful applicants the result has remained the same. The result is that a person is granted the same legal rights and status of a born British citizen.
An application has to be made to the Home Office and if the applicant fulfills the requirements set out in the British Nationality Act 1981, then the application will be approved, and the applicant can attend the British citizenship ceremony where a Certificate of Naturalisation will be given.
What are the British citizenship requirements by naturalisation?
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be of good character
- Be able to meet the residence requirements
- Be of full capacity
- Be able to show you have sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language, and you have evidence to support this
- Be able to show you have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK, and you have evidence to support this
- Intend to have your family home in the UK
What are the residence requirements?
Most applicants will need to show that they resided in the UK lawfully for at least five years before they can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. Depending on the applicant’s circumstances at the time of applying for naturalisation, the residence requirement may be shortened from 5 years to 3 years UK lawful residence. This applies to those applicants married to a British citizen.
If married to a British citizen
Section 6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 states that a person married to a British citizen can apply to naturalise as a British citizen after three years of living in the UK. The Act also requires the applicant to have permanent status in the UK, such as indefinite leave to remain, before applying for British citizenship. With the 2012 Immigration changes spouses can only apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of UK lawful residence. Therefore, the period of residence is really five years even for spouses of British citizens.
The maximum absences allowed under section 6(2) is 270 days in total during the last 3 years leading up to the date of submission of the naturalisation application, and no more than 90 days in the last final qualifying year.
If not married to a British citizen
Section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 states that a person not married to a British citizen will require permanent status in the UK, and this must have been held for a period of at least 12 months before applying for naturalisation. An applicant who falls under this section will take him at least 6 years to apply for British citizenship.
The maximum permitted absences allowed under section 6(1) is 450 days during the five years leading up to the naturalisation application, and no more than 90 days in the last final qualifying year.
Which application form to use for naturalisation?
Before applying for British citizenship, it is imperative to know the correct form. The application is normally made using an online form “AN” and paid online.
What is the fee, and how long does it take for approval?
The application fee is ￡1330 . In addition to the application fee, a further fee for biometrics and appointment will be required at the time of submitting your online application.
The process takes approximately six months. Once the individual’s application is successfully reviewed, the Home Office will send approval. You are required to attend a citizenship ceremony, receive a certificate of citizenship, and then you can apply for a British passport.
How can I check my naturalisation status?
After applying for British citizenship through Naturalisation and paying the required fee, you receive a unique identification number. You must wait until hearing from the Home Office, not before six months. The Home office will contact you if they find any missing data or information in your application. Also, you can regularly visit the government website for any update relevant to your case.
You can also contact the UKVI department by telephone. The contact centre (0300 123 2241) is available from Monday to Thursday, between 9 am to 4:45 pm, and on Fridays, between 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Can I apply for a British passport at the same time as Naturalisation?
It is now possible to apply for your British Passport at the time of Naturalisation while you are using the online citizenship application process. It is an easy and effective service and has been developed in partnership with the Home Office.
The combined service costs an additional £15 and is payable at the time of booking.
Any citizenship applicant within six months of their 16th birthday during application must attend the appointment in person.
The applicant will have to choose the passport and pay the required fee as per the following:
- A standard adult passport (34 pages) costs £85
- An adult jumbo passport (50 pages) costs £95
- A child Passport (under 16) costs £58.50
What if my application is refused?
Your applications for British citizenship can be refused you may wish to re submit a new application, or challenge the decision in court via Judicial Review.
Conclusion: The process of naturalisation can be daunting. One must carefully apply and submit all the required documentation within time. It is also recommended that you apply through an immigration lawyer who has British law expertise. A Y & J Solicitors have experience of over ten years. They have experts who represent your case and ensure a successful outcome.