Can I Get British Citizenship on a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Knowing that the immigration route you choose will work for you in the long-run is important. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for migrants to apply for and secure a visa, only to later realise it is not suitable as a basis for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. If you know that you are more than likely to want to stay permanently in the UK, it is essential that you understand whether the visa route you choose counts towards settlement and if it does not, which other options do. In this article, we will discuss whether it is possible to secure British citizenship if you have a Skilled Worker visa. The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.
Can I Work Towards Settlement With A UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Yes, the UK’s Skilled Worker visa allows migrants to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years. One year after you acquire ILR, you will then be able to apply for citizenship. The Skilled Worker visa may be granted for three or five years, hence, if you are on a three-year visa, you will need to extend it to reach the five-year eligibility point for ILR.
Another option if you have already been in the UK for ten or more years and are currently on a Skilled Worker visa, is to apply for ILR using the ten-year-long residence route. This is useful for migrants who have switched between different visa schemes over the years, resulting in the amount of time they have spent in the UK being ‘reset’ each time. This is because the five year qualification time for ILR must be on the same visa.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For ILR?
To be eligible for ILR, you must have been living in the UK continuously on a Tier 2 visa (the predecessor to the Skilled Work visa) for five or more years. ‘Continuous’, in this context, means that you have not had any absences from the UK which break the time spent in the UK. The rules say that you must not have been outside of the UK for more than 180 days in a consecutive 12 month period. Hence if you have been outside of the UK for 181 days in a 12-month consecutive period, this would have broken the continuous period. In addition, you will also need to meet the following criteria:
- You must have no criminal convictions
- You must not have breached UK immigration laws
- You have passed the Life in the UK test
- You can prove your English language proficiency – this can be done by passing a CEFR at B1 level or by having a degree which was taught in English
The Home Office will also ask for evidence that:
- your employer (sponsor) still needs you for your job - they’ll need to provide a document confirming this
- your job meets the salary requirements (£25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for your job – you may be eligible with a lower salary in certain circumstances).
Your partner will also be able to apply if:
- they have permission to be in the UK as your partner
- they’ve been living in the UK with you for at least two years if they applied before 9 July 2012 or 5 years if they applied on or after 9 July 2012
- your relationship is genuine
- you intend to continue living together
- you have enough income to support yourselves and your dependants
- you’re not using public funds
And your children will also be able to apply if they are dependant on you, i.e.:
- they were previously given permission to stay in the UK as your child
- they are not married or in a civil partnership
- they will live with you and be supported by you without using public funds
The cost of applying for ILR is £2,389 for each person, and the current processing time is six months. It is possible to fast track your application for ILR within five days by paying £500 for the priority service, or one working day by paying £800 for the super-priority service.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For British Citizenship?
If you have held ILR for one year, you will be eligible to apply for British citizenship if:
- you are over 18
- you can prove you were in the UK exactly five years before the day the Home Office receives your application
- you can prove your knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
- you have passed the Life in the UK test
- you intend to continue living in the UK
- are of good character
When applying for citizenship, the Home Office will look again at the amount of time you have been in the UK. Specifically, they may check that you have not:
- spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five years before your application
- spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
- been out of the UK for more than two years since receiving ILR
Your children will need to make separate applications for citizenship.
At present, it costs £1,330 to apply for British citizenship and £1,012 for a child. It also costs £80 for each adult (over 18) to attend a citizenship ceremony. Decisions on citizenship applications are typically made within six months, however, this can take longer if more information is needed.
Knowing that you will be able to secure ILR and then citizenship on a Skilled Worker visa can be valuable, especially if you think you may want to remain in the UK indefinitely or long-term. If you are concerned that you may have broken the continuous period required for ILR or citizenship, speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to advise you? If necessary, they can draft a detailed covering letter explaining the circumstances which meant you were not in the country for 180 days of each year in the past five years. This may be sufficient to reassure the case officer that discretion should be used when making a decision on your case.