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British Citizenship by Marriage

It is possible to gain British citizenship by marriage if you are a foreign national married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your British Citizenship application.

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Can you get British citizenship by marriage?

If you are a foreign national married to a British citizen or in a civil partnership, it is possible to gain British citizenship by naturalisation and live in the UK. It is also worth clarifying that marrying a British citizen (or marrying a UK citizen) does not automatically or immediately give you British citizenship, but you may be able to apply when you qualify. The Home Office rules state that a person who is 18 or over and married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, and has been living in the UK for at least 3 years can apply to naturalise as soon as they have:

There are further eligibility criteria that must also be met in order to gain British citizenship by marriage or civil partnership, as explained below.

The benefit of applying for UK citizenship through marriage or civil partnership is that you can do so immediately after gaining permanent settlement in the UK if you can prove that you have been living in the UK for exactly 3 years. Normally, a person is required to wait for 12 months after they gain settlement to apply for British citizenship.

Requirements for British citizenship by marriage or civil partnership

Under the current Home Office policy, the requirements of applying for British citizenship by marriage are:

  • be 18 years or over, and
  • be married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen on the date of application, and
  • be a settled person – this means you must have indefinite leave to remain (ILR), indefinite leave to enter (ILE), or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, and
  • have lived in the UK for at least three years before the date of your application – it should be noted that time spent as a diplomat, member of a diplomat’s staff or household, or a member of visiting armed forces does not count towards this time. The time spent in the UK must also have been continuous; this means you have not:
    • spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the three years before your application,
    • spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months

There are some additional general requirements that must be met to naturalise as a British citizen; you must:

  • be of sound mind and, therefore, understand the steps you are taking
  • be able to communicate in English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic) to an acceptable level
  • have sufficient knowledge of Life in the UK
  • be you are of good character

For more details on these general requirements, please visit our page on British Citizenship requirements.

Can I apply to naturalise as a British citizen if my partner has died?

Unfortunately, the Home Office rules state you cannot apply to naturalise as a British citizen if your British partner has died. However, there may be alternative ways of gaining citizenship. For example, you can first apply for ILR if your British spouse or partner has died. Once you have held ILR for 12 months, you can apply for British citizenship2.

Where must I have been resident in the UK?

During the 3 years prior to submitting your application, you must have been physically present in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands.

Check if you fulfil all the requirements to gain British citizenship through marriage or civil partnership, by speaking to one of our immigration solicitors. Contact us today for a telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

How to get British citizenship by marriage

You can get British citizenship by marriage by:

  1. Completing the required online citizenship by naturalisation application form1.
  2. Book an appointment at a UKVCAS service point to have your photograph taken and fingerprints scanned.
  3. Upload any documents requested to support your application or provide these when you attend your UKVCAS appointment.
  4. Paying the application fee of £1,330 online.
  5. Paying the biometric fee of £19.20 to have your biometrics taken.
  6. Attend your biometric appointment.
  7. Wait for a decision on your application.
  8. If your application is approved, you will receive a certificate of British Citizenship. You will be asked to return your biometric residence permit (BRP) to the Home Office – this must be done within 5 working days of when you receive your certificate. This is important as failure to do so may result in a fine of £1,000.
  9. You can then apply for a British passport.

The processing time for citizenship through marriage is currently around six months, but if your case is particularly complex or insufficient information is provided, this may take longer.

Required documents and evidence

With your British citizenship application, you will be asked to provide a number of supporting documents and items of evidence, as follows:

  • Evidence of your identity, e.g. your BRP card and your passport or national identity card
  • Evidence of knowledge of the language, e.g.:
    • a Home Office approved qualification in English at B1 CEFR
    • a UK degree certificate
    • proof of exemption (e.g. a medical letter explaining why you should be exempt from this requirement)
  • Evidence of Life in the UK, e.g. a letter confirming success in the Life in the UK Test
  • Evidence of settlement in the UK, e.g.:
    • passport showing permission to remain permanently in the UK
    • Home Office letter showing you received permission to remain permanently in the UK
  • Evidence your spouse/partner has British citizenship, e.g.:
    • your spouse’s or civil partner’s current passport or naturalisation/registration certificate proving they hold British citizenship
    • your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
  • Evidence you have been living in the UK for at least 3 years, e.g. your passport

If any of your documents are not written in English, they will need to be professionally translated.

When to apply for British Citizenship by Marriage

You can apply for British citizenship by marriage or as a civil partner as soon as you hold indefinite leave to remain (ILR), indefinite leave to enter (ILE) for the UK, or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You must also have lived in the UK (including England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands) for at least 3 years.

British citizenship by Marriage Fees

British citizenship by marriage application fee is £1,330. In addition, you will need to pay for Biometric residence fee £19.20 and any translation, English language exams, and a Life in the UK test.

How long does it take to become a British citizen through marriage?

The processing time for citizenship through marriage is currently around six months, but if your case is particularly complex or insufficient information is provided, this may take longer.

Do I need to renounce my existing citizenship?

The UK allows dual nationality. This means you are not required by UK law to renounce your existing citizenship of another country. You will need to check, however, if the laws of the countries in which you hold citizenship require you to renounce their citizenship before applying to become a British citizen. For more information, check our article Dual Citizenship in the UK

British citizenship by marriage application refused

You cannot normally appeal a refused British citizenship by marriage application. You may be able to request an administrative review if you believe a mistake was made by the Home Office when making a decision. Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a judicial review to challenge the legal basis for the decision.

Applications for British citizenship by marriage or civil partnership are refused for many reasons, including where:

  • The applicant has not been living in the UK for 3 years, or they do not meet the continuous residence requirement
  • There are concerns about the validity of the marriage or civil partnership
  • Insufficient evidence has been provided
  • The applicant has not passed the Life in the UK test, or they do not meet the language requirements
  • There are concerns about the character of the applicant

It is advisable to discuss your case with an immigration solicitor in the event of a refusal. An immigration solicitor can review your case and the reasons for refusal and explain the best way forward. In some cases, they may recommend submitting a fresh application or using an alternative route to achieve the same objective.

Contact us today for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

References

1 GOV.UK: Citizenship by naturalisation application form

2 GOV.UK: Death of a partner


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