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British Naturalisation

British naturalisation is the legal process of becoming a British citizen if you are not British by birth.

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

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What is British naturalisation?

British naturalisation is the legal process of becoming a British citizen if you are not British by birth. As a naturalised British citizen, you will be eligible for a UK passport and have the same rights and privileges as a British person. You will be able to live, work, and access public funds in the UK. You will also be free of immigration control. Being free of immigration control means you can travel into and out of the UK freely for the rest of your life, removing the need for a visa.

According to the naturalisation guidance, there are several ways to become a naturalised British citizen:

To check if you are eligible for British citizenship through naturalisation, speak to one of our helpful immigration solicitors. Call us on 020 3744 2797 for advice on becoming a British citizen.

British naturalisation requirements

The requirements you will need to meet depend on the type of UK naturalisation application you are making. The naturalisation guidance provided by the Home Office explains the requirements for naturalisation are as follows:

Requirements for naturalisation if you have indefinite leave to remain or EU Settled Status

Under this route, to naturalise as a British national, you must have resided in the UK for at least 5 years and hold one of the following, and have done so for at least one year:

  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK
  • Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK

Please note, if you are applying based on your marriage, civil partnership, or relationship to a British national, you will not need to meet the additional one-year residence requirement.

In addition, you must also:

  • be over 18
  • be able to prove you have been in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Island 5 years before the date your UK naturalisation application is received by the Home Office. E.g. if your application is received on 05/05/2022, you should have been physically present in the UK on 06/05/2017.
  • not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days in the 5-year period before applying
  • not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in the 12-month period before applying
  • be able to prove your knowledge of the English language. You can also apply if you have sufficient knowledge of Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
  • be of sound mind so that you understand the step you are taking
  • have passed the life in the UK test
  • intend to continue living in the UK once you become a UK citizen
  • be of good character
  • not have breached the immigration rules

Requirements for citizenship if you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen

The requirements are broadly the same as above, but you only need to have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years before you apply. E.g. if your application is received by the Home Office on 05/05/2022, you must have been living in the UK on 06/05/2019.

The rules also state that you must not have been outside of the UK during the 3 year period for more than 270 days in total. This is the absence requirement which is the maximum time you can be outside of the UK when applying for British Citizenship. In addition, you must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 months before you apply for naturalisation.

The ‘good character’ requirement

The good character requirement means that you must:

  • have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observed its laws, and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK
  • have been honest in the information you provide to the Home Office
  • have paid any taxes owing to HMRC
  • meet the requirements for criminality

You will be asked to provide information on any crimes you have been convicted of, including road traffic offenses. Not all offenses will lead to a refusal of your application. This will depend on whether you received a prison sentence, the duration of the sentence, and how long has passed since the end of the sentence. For example, if you received a sentence of up to 1 year, your application is likely to be refused unless 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence.

The ‘sound mind’ requirement

‘Sound mind’ means that you must have an understanding of the actions you are taking when you apply for naturalisation. The Home Office may decide to ignore this requirement if it would be in the applicant’s best interests for naturalisation to be granted. If you are applying on behalf of a person in this situation, it is important that you provide details of their mental health condition, confirm that you are providing them with care and support, and provide evidence of their care arrangements.

Knowledge of Life in the UK requirements

You will need to pass the Life in the UK test which is designed to ensure you have a broad understanding of British history and culture. This will need to be completed at an approved test centre. There is plenty of information available online, and there are several books available that explain how to pass the test. If you are under 18 or over 65, or you have a physical or mental condition, you may be exempt from taking the life in the UK test.

English Language requirement

To gain citizenship through naturalisation, you will need to meet the English language requirements, either by:

  • Passing a CEFR English qualification at B1, B2, C1, or C2 level
  • Holding a degree taught or researched in English

If you are under 18 or over 65, or you have a physical or mental condition, you may be exempt from meeting the English language requirement. You will also not need to meet this requirement if you are from either one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, Trinidad, and Tobago, or the USA.

If you are unsure if you meet all of the requirements above for British, speak to one of our helpful immigration solicitors. Call us on 020 3744 2797 for advice on becoming a British citizen.

Documents required for British naturalisation

There are several supporting documents for naturalisation applications required. The documents you will need to provide will depend on your circumstances. The documents you need to provide may include some or all of the following:

  • evidence of your identity: e.g. your passport or national identity card
  • Home Office letter showing you have permission to remain permanently in the UK
  • evidence you have passed the Life in the UK Test
  • evidence you meet the language requirements such as:
    • a Home Office approved qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher
    • a UK degree certificate
    • a certificate for a degree that was taught or researched in a majority English
  • speaking country (you will also need an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis showing the qualification you hold is equivalent to a UK qualification
    • a certificate for a degree that was taught or researched in a non-majority English speaking country and both an AQUALS and English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS)

The Home Office will tell you which documents you should submit once you have completed your online application.

If you are planning to apply to become a naturalised British citizen, it is essential that you provide all of the information and documents required for British naturalisation by the Home Office. If you do not do so, you risk your application being refused, and your British naturalisation fee will not be refunded.

Our team of specialist immigration lawyers can assist you with ensuring you have the necessary documents to support your naturalisation application. Call us on 020 3744 2797 for advice on becoming a British citizen.

How to apply for British citizenship through naturalisation

To apply for naturalisation, you need to complete the following steps:

  • apply for naturalisation online. This is done by completing form AN1 on the Home Office website
  • provide details of two naturalisation referees you have known personally for at least three years. You will need to provide a suitable personal and professional reference based on the list of acceptable referees for naturalisation. The personal naturalisation referee must be a British citizen or a professional person over 25 years. The professional naturalisation referee must be a person with professional standing, such as a lawyer, police officer, or accountant.
  • pay the British naturalisation fee of £1,330 (this is paid online when you apply)
  • make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo). You will be advised if you need to do this and how to book your appointment.
  • upload your documents (this can be done online or when you attend your UKCAS appointment)

If the Home Office have any questions regarding your application, they will contact you for more information. It is important to respond to any queries as quickly as possible to ensure your application is not rejected. Where possible we recommend replying within 1 week.

If your application for citizenship through naturalisation is approved, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony closest to where you live. At the ceremony, you will be given your Certificate of Naturalisation.

Once you have your Certificate of Naturalisation, you will need to send your BRP back to the Home Office. You will also be able to apply for a British passport at this stage.

British naturalisation fee

The application fee for British naturalisation is £1,330. You must also pay a fee of £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

British naturalisation timeline

You can expect to receive a decision on your British naturalisation application within 6 months. Straightforward cases may be decided within 1 – 3 months.

The general timeline of events for a British naturalisation application is as follows:

  1. Submit application to Home Office and payment of fees
  2. Receipt of acknowledgement: typically around 5 working days after application
  3. Biometrics enrolled: anytime after you apply, subject to appointment availability
  4. Approval letter: anywhere between 1 and 6 months after application
  5. Ceremony letter: around 1 week after approval
  6. Date of Ceremony: around 1 month after approval

How to apply for a British passport after naturalisation

Once you have British citizenship, you will be able to apply for a British passport online2. To do this, you will need to:

  • Complete the online application3
  • Provide a digital photo that meets the Home Office requirements
  • Submit any documents requested
  • Pay the application fee. This is either £75.50 for an adult and £49 for a child
  • Have someone confirm your identity if needed

The standard processing time for a British passport is 5 weeks.

British naturalisation and dual nationality

Under UK nationality and immigration laws, you are allowed to become a UK citizen and hold nationality of another country. This means you are allowed to hold dual nationality in the UK. It is important to note that some countries do not allow dual nationality. Therefore, it is recommended that you check if the other country in which you hold citizenship allows dual nationality before applying.

What if my British naturalisation application is refused?

In the unfortunate circumstances that the Home Office refuses your application, be reassured that in most cases, you will still have options available. It is important to understand exactly why your application was refused. This will be explained in the decision letter. It is always recommended to speak to an immigration solicitor specialising in citizenship application refusals. They will listen to the circumstances of your case and recommend the best way forward. This may be to:

  • submit a fresh application
  • seek an Administrative Review if a mistake was made by the Home Office
  • appeal if this option is available, or
  • seek a Judicial Review challenging the legal reason for the decision.

You will need to act quickly as you will only have a limited amount of time to file a review or appeal of your case.

If your naturalisation application has been refused, speak to one of our helpful immigration solicitors by calling us on 020 3744 2797 as soon as possible. We understand all of the grounds for refusal and can recommend how best to overcome them.


References:

1 GOV.UK: AN Form

2 GOV.UK: Applying online for a passport

3 GOV.UK: Online Passport Application Form

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