A common question for our immigration specialists is, who qualifies for a British passport? In this article we will look at the options available for those wishing to apply for a British passport - focusing mainly on those who have come from abroad (outside of the EEA). We will look at the processes for becoming eligible to apply for a British passport and the application process for the passport itself.
There are several ways in which you can be eligible to apply for a British passport, these generally rely on your country of origin and your rights to citizenship in the UK. You will of course need to qualify as a British national, but there are several options for this as laid out below:
In most of these different eligibility areas, the holders will almost certainly know if they're eligible already so we're going to focus mainly on British citizens and for those who aren't one already, we will talk about how to become one. For more information on any of these alternate options please get in touch and we can discuss them with you.
This can be a complicated subject - but as a general rule, those with at least one British parent will qualify automatically as a British citizen. Many people believe that you automatically become British if you're born in the UK; but that isn't technically true. If both of your parents are foreign nationals then your eligibility is likely to be affected. Of course, you are more likely to be able to apply for British citizenship if you were born in the UK (or help your parents to remain in the UK) but this isn't necessarily guaranteed.
For those who have come from outside of the EEA, the path to British citizenship is via the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) route. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK is normally gained after 5 years of living in the UK on an appropriate visa. After the visa holder has gained Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) they will need to wait a further 12 month period to apply for British citizenship. Once the process of applying for British citizenship is complete, they will then be eligible to apply for a British passport.
Most of the UK's visa routes lead to eventually being able to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). You will, of course, need to be in the UK for 5 years and cannot have left the country for more than 90 days in any one of those 5 years. But as long as you match that criteria, you should be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You must ensure that your specific visa route is eligible to be used as there are some exceptions to this rule (notably Tier 4 Student visas).
Once you have completed your 5 year stay in the UK, the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is reasonably simple and you will need to provide documentary proof that you have been in the UK for the time that you have specified and that you've kept to your visa conditions whilst here. But as long as you have satisfied the criteria, then Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is quite simple to achieve.
The process of switching from Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to being a full British citizen is a reasonably straightforward task for those who have lived in the UK for the 5 year period specified. You will be required to meet all of the eligibility criteria for a British citizenship, this includes the life in the UK Test, which may require some revision, but for those who lived permanently in the UK for 5 years should be reasonably straightforward to pass.
The reasoning for the test is that historically many people have come to the UK and not learnt that much about the country and have become isolated because of this. This isolation can affect long-term social mobility and can create problems between communities. The British government in its wisdom has tried to fix this problem with the life in the UK Test with some mixed results. But in general the test is seen as a positive for future migration to the UK.
The process for a British citizen applying for a passport is reasonably straightforward. There is an online application process that can be completed, or if you prefer, you can fill out a paper form. You can also, if you need a passport in a hurry, attend a passport office and apply in person. As long as you have all of your correct documentation to hand, you can generally get a passport on the same day.
You will of course need to ensure that you match all of the guidelines that are required to apply for a British passport and these can be found in the application pack or online, and will give you further guidance on the application process for a passport. If you are in any doubt then please get in touch and we can help.
If you require more help with British citizenship or indeed any other immigration query then please get in touch. Our immigration solicitors will be happy to talk to you and to look at your case and see if there's any way in which we can help you. So get in touch today and our immigration specialists can begin to work with you.