British Citizenship by Naturalisation

This is the most common route to British Citizenship. 

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Naturalisation is the most common way for adults who were not born British to become British citizens.

To apply to naturalise as a British citizen, they will have to fulfil the residency requirements, and hold Indefinite Leave to Remain/Permanent Residence. They will also need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English Language, and Life in the UK, be of good character, and have the intention to make the UK their home. The good character requirement is mainly based on previous immigration history and an individual’s criminal history.

How we can help 
Although citizenship applications can be complex, our experienced immigration specialists understand the processes, the legal requirements and the issues. Herrington Carmichael will support you every step of the way.

British Citizenship by Naturalisation FAQs

What are the requirements for citizenship through naturalisation?

To be eligible for naturalisation, you must be able to prove:

  • You have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years and have been settled in the UK for at least 12 months (unless married to a British citizen)
  • You can prove that you were in the UK exactly 5 years before the day the Home Office receives your application
  • You can prove your knowledge of English
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test
  • You intend to continue living in the UK
  • You are of good character
  • You have not:
    • Spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the 5-year period before your application
    • Spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months

If you are married to a British Citizen, you do not need to wait 12 months after receiving indefinite leave to remain to apply, you can apply immediately. 

What are the residency requirements?

In order to apply for citizenship, you will need to have been living in the UK for at least 5 years and have not broken any immigration laws (Home Office will make sure of this when you’re applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain -ILR). 

Time that doesn’t count as time spent in the UK for citizenship purposes includes: 

  • being a diplomat
  • member of a diplomat’s staff or household
  • a member of visiting armed forces

You cannot have spent:

  • more than 450 days outside the UK during the 5 years before your application
  • more than 90 days outside the UK in the prior 12 months
  • or have broken any UK immigration laws

You may need to apply for a Returning Residents visa if you have been out of the UK for more than 2 years since obtaining ILR.

How soon can I apply?

You can apply once you have had settled status (ILR) for 12 months. If you are married to a British citizen, you can apply immediately after obtaining ILR. 

How much will it cost?

The fees charged by Home Office can be found on their official website here

How long does it take to get a decision? 

You should get a decision on your status within 6 months of submitting the application. Please note, these timeframes are a guideline, and some applications do take longer to receive a decision.

Can my family/dependants apply?

Your spouse, partner and other dependants will need their own application if they meet the requirements. 

If your child was born in the UK after you acquired ILR, they may automatically be a British citizen.

Do I need to redo my biometric information?

Yes. You will need to make an appointment to give your fingerprints and have a new photograph taken. This will be stipulated during your application process. 

Your appointment will be made at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. 

Do I need to pass the Life in the UK Test?

Yes. If you are aged 18 to 64 years old, you will need to pass the Life in the UK Test. If you do not pass, you will need to apply to extend your visa instead. You can reapply for ILR. 

Do I need to meet the English Language Requirement?

If you had to pass the English Language requirement as part of your visa application, you will not need to pass this requirement again. You may need to show that you passed it previously. 

Will I need to pay the IHS surcharge?

No. You will no longer need to pay the healthcare surcharge.

Will I need to attend a citizenship ceremony?

Yes. If your application is successful, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony. You will receive information about where and when upon success. 

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