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British Citizenship for US Citizens

If you are a US citizen considering citizenship in England or any other part of the UK, you may be able to apply for British citizenship. It is important to note that, unlike other countries, under US and UK law, there is nothing to prevent US citizens from holding dual citizenship.

US nationals may also consider applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which provides the right to settle in the UK. The drawback of ILR compared to immediate UK citizenship is that the application process takes much longer as applicants must live in the UK on a qualifying visa for a certain period (normally 5 years of continuous residence); this can involve considerable cost and administration over time due to the requirement to apply for visas, renewals, ILR, and then ultimately citizenship. Here we will explain how to become a British citizen from the US.

How to become a British citizen as a US citizen

There are several key UK immigration routes that allow US citizens to apply to become a British citizens; these include:

If you are unsure how to get British citizenship, speak to one of our immigration solicitors for telephone consultation at 020 3744 2797 or email info@reissedwards.co.uk.

UK citizenship requirements for an American citizens

As an American citizen, the eligibility requirements you will need to meet to become a UK citizen depend on the immigration route you choose, as follows:

British citizenship by marriage

As a US national, you may be eligible for citizenship in England if you are 18 years or over, are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, and have resided in the UK for a minimum of 3 years. US nationals considering applying for British citizenship on the basis of their marriage or civil partnership must hold the following:

  • ILR in the UK, or
  • Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or
  • Indefinite leave to enter the UK.

Applicants must also be able to prove that they have passed the Life in the UK test and be of good character.

British citizenship by descent

If you were born outside the UK to a British parent, you may be able to apply for British citizenship. This is because British citizenship can be passed down one generation to children who are born outside the UK. If you were not automatically made a British citizen, you may be able to register for British citizenship. The eligibility criteria you meet depend on whether you were born on or after 1st July 2006, between 1983 and June 2006, or before 1983.

If you were born after 1st July 2006

You can apply if:

  • you have lived in the UK with your parents, or
  • your British parent lived in the UK before you were born, or
  • you were adopted outside the UK, or
  • your father was a British citizen at the time you were born (and your mother was married to someone else), or
  • you were born in the UK, and your father had indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the time you were born (and your mother was married to someone else).

If you were born between 1983 and June 2006

You can apply if:

  • your mother or father held British citizenship at the time of your birth, and
  • your British parent could pass on their citizenship to you

If you were born before 1983

You can apply if you were born outside the UK, and your father is British. You may be able to apply if your parents were not married when you were born or your mother was British but your father was not.

British citizenship by double descent

You may be able to apply for British citizenship by double descent (i.e. through your British Grandfather) depending on when you were born, as follows:

If you were born after 1st January 1983

To qualify, you must:

  • have a grandfather who was born in the UK and who was in the Crown Service when your parents were born, or
  • have been born or one of your parents must have been born in a former British colony, or
  • have a mother born in the UK who was registered as a British citizen between 2nd February and 31st December 1982.

If you were born before 1st January 1983

To qualify, you must:

  • have been born, or one of your parents must have been born in a former British territory, or
  • have a parent who was registered as a British citizen, or
  • have a parent who was in a Crown service at the time of your birth, or
  • have parents who were married prior to 1949, and your father was born in the UK.

If you were born before 1949

To qualify, you must:

  • have been born or one of your parents must have been born in a former British territory, or
  • have a grandmother or mother who was married to a British man before 1949.

British citizenship by naturalisation

This is the most common route for US citizens who wish to gain UK citizenship. Applicants must have lived in the UK for a certain amount of time before applying to naturalise as British citizen.

In most cases, US citizens who wish to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation must have held a visa that qualifies for ILR after living in the UK for the required continuous period (typically 5 years). Having acquired ILR, applicants must wait 12 months before they can apply for British citizenship.

In addition, you will need to show that you:

  • Have not been outside of the UK for more than 450 days in the last 5 years
  • Have not been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in the year before you apply
  • Have not breached the immigration rules

Applicants must also be able to prove that they have passed the Life in the UK test and be of good character.

How to apply for citizenship in England as a US citizen

The process you will need to complete to apply for citizenship in England as a US citizen depends on the specific route you are using. In general, you will need to:

  1. Complete an online application form for registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Book and attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to have your fingerprints scanned and a photo taken.
  4. Upload any documents required to prove your eligibility.

In most cases, you can expect to receive a decision within 6 months. If approved, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. Once you hold British citizenship, you will then be able to apply for a British passport.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in acquiring British citizenship for US citizens.

  • Explain how to get UK citizenship as a US national
  • Handle the British citizenship application process on your behalf
  • Advise how to overcome any problems with your application or eligibility
  • Handle a refusal of your British citizenship application

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

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