UK Citizenship Processing Times
One of the most asked questions we receive regarding the UK immigration and citizenship system relates to processing time. This is entirely understandable as so many hinges on the outcome of an application that is being considered by the Home Office. Citizenship is, for many, the final step in their journey to secure a new life in the UK, and for this reason, it there is always a certain amount of anxiety and nervousness relating to the outcome. If you have recently applied for citizenship or if you are due to submit an application for you and your family members, there is a great deal that can be done to reduce the potential for any delay and to ensure a timely and positive outcome. In this article, we explain the UK citizenship processing times and what can be done to reduce delays in your application.
What Is The Standard UK Citizenship Processing Time?
The Home Office website states that applications are generally processed within six months and that due to COVID-19, it may even take longer. Thankfully, the backlog which built up in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic has reduced, meaning that COVID-19 related delays are now less likely. From experience, we have seen some applications processed within eight weeks, while three to four weeks is more common.
If you have submitted your application and you have already been waiting over four or five months, be reassured that your case is likely still being considered, and such timescales are entirely normal.
The Home Office also confirms that at present, where applicants have been impacted by COVID-19, they will be given additional time to have their biometrics (fingerprints and photo) taken and to book a citizenship ceremony.
Is There A Faster Processing Service For UK Citizenship?
Unlike the visa immigration system, there is no priority or super-priority service for citizenship, and you cannot pay more to have your application processed faster. Although there is no accelerated processing service for citizenship, there is much you can do to reduce the chance of any delay in your application and to ensure it is dealt with in the standard time.
What Can I Do To Ensure My Application For UK Citizenship Is Processed Without Delay?
In our many years of operation, we have seen countless times visa and citizenship applications subject to needless delays. Sometimes it may be as simple as someone not ticking the correct box, not paying the correct administration fee, sending documents to the wrong address, or even applying too early. This is the first point to check.
Don’t Apply Too Early
While you are no doubt keen to get your application for citizenship submitted as soon as possible, especially given you have waited so many years, it is essential you wait until you are eligible. Even applying a day early may lead to delay or refusal. This is because the rules state that you must have been physically present in the UK for a set amount of time before the Home Office receives your application. In the case of spousal applications, the required time is three years only, and for others with settled status, this is six years (five years plus one year with a settled immigration status prior to applying). Your application may be rejected if you cannot prove this. For example, if an application is received on 20th June 2021, but the person actually left the UK on 10th June 2018 and returned to the UK on 25th June 2018, they should have waited until 24th June 2022 to apply. It is important to bear in mind also that if you apply online, your application is received the same day it is submitted, whereas postal applications are typically received the following day.
Check That You Have Been Living In The UK Continuously
Another point to check before you apply is that you have been living in the UK continuously during the required period – this means that you must not have spent more than 270 days (for spousal applications) or 450 days (for those with ILR or settled status) outside the UK during this time or spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the past year.
Forgetting To Tell The Home Office If Your Details Change
Delays can also occur if your circumstances change and you don’t tell the Home Office; for example, if you move address or change your phone number. This may result in you not receiving communications or requests for further information.
Responding To Requests From The Home Office
In most cases, the Home Office will request additional information which has not been included in the application. It is important to check your email (or other preferred methods of communication) and provide the information to them as soon as possible by the date requested and in the required format.
Include All Required Documents With Your Application
When applying for UK citizenship, you will need to supply several documents, including proof of:
- your identity
- your right to live in the UK permanently
- how long you have been living in the UK
- your continuous residence in the UK
- passing the Life in the UK test
- meeting the English language requirement
- your marriage or civil partnership (if applying on the basis of your relationship)
- national insurance contributions (e.g. payslips, p60, etc.)
We recommend taking the time to provide every document that you have been asked to supply, as even one being delayed or sent at a later date can lead to a delay in your case being decided.
The optimal way to ensure your UK citizenship application is processed in a timely manner is to engage the services of Immigration Solicitors who can a) assess your eligibility, b) advise you of your options, c) help you to collate the documents and information needed to apply, d) complete and submit your application for you, and e) respond to any queries raised by the Home Office. We wish you and your family all the very best with your life as British citizens.