USA and the UK
Am I eligible for a British passport after obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Many people often confuse naturalisation and Indefinite Leave to Remain and believe that you can apply for a British passport as soon as you have obtained settled status, however this is not true.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a status that grants you permanent residence in the United Kingdom. With ILR you can live, study and work in the UK free from any time restrictions. Whilst ILR and British citizenship both allow you to live in the UK permanently, they do differ. One of the main differences is that you cannot be eligible for a UK passport with Indefinite Leave to Remain.
In order to obtain a UK passport you must be a British citizen. Although you cannot be eligible as a person with ILR, you can use your ILR status as a route towards British citizenship after which you would be eligible for a UK passport.
Having British nationality does not guarantee that you can get a UK passport, your application can still be refused if:
- you’re suspected of a serious crime and an arrest warrant has been issued
- a court order stops you having a UK passport or restricts your travel
- you’re on bail and bail conditions mean you cannot leave the UK
- you’ve been brought back to the UK before at the government’s expense and have not repaid what you owe
- you’ve received a European Union or United Nations order which restricts your travel
What are the benefits of a British passport?
A British passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world that you can obtain. Having a UK passport will make travel significantly easier for many. A UK passport can be used to travel freely in and out of the United Kingdom. British passports are so powerful because they allow for visa-free travel to 139 countries across the globe. You can also travel to 7 countries with just travel authorization obtained online and a further 38 countries in which you can apply for a visa upon your arrival rather than prior to it.
A UK passport can also be used to prove your status as a British Citizen. Having British Citizenship comes with many other types of rights, including the right to vote in all UK elections, stand for office and access free healthcare on the NHS.
How can I become a British citizen?
If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain you can still obtain a UK passport by applying to become a British citizen through the process of naturalisation. Naturalisation is the process that overseas citizens use to become a British national. Americans can still retain their US citizenship whilst also holding British citizenship, this is called dual citizenship.
To be eligible to apply for citizenship this way you must have lived in the UK with settled status for at least 12 months, unless applying as the Spouse of a British citizen.
As well as holding Indefinite Leave to Remain for 12 months, there are several other requirements that you will need to meet before you apply for British citizenship, you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Pass the Life in the UK Test
- Have lived in the UK for 5 years or more
- Not have been in breach of any immigration rules whilst you have lived in the UK
- Demonstrate that you can meet the good character requirement
Citizens from the United States are not required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language, but you may need to do this if you are not a US national.
When you apply for British citizenship you will be required to provide evidence that you have been living in the UK for at least 5 years and that you meet the other requirements. If your application is approved, the final part of the process is to attend the British citizenship ceremony. Once you have done this you will officially be a British national.
How do I apply for a UK passport?
Once you have become a British citizen and attended your citizenship ceremony, you can apply for your first UK passport straight away. You can apply online using the application form available on the gov.uk website or you can also get an application form from your local UK post office and apply by post.
When applying, there are several documents you will need to submit, they include:
- A certificate of naturalisation or registration
- The passport you used to enter the UK
- If applying with a paper form you will need to send two passport sized photographs, one of which must be signed by a countersignatory to prove your identity
You must submit original copies of the above documents.
After you apply, you may need to attend a passport interview to prove your identity. Following the application you should allow up to 10 weeks to receive your passport.
How we can help you to apply for British citizenship and your British passport
Applying for British citizenship is an incredibly complex process, there are a number of strict requirements that you will need to meet and you will need to provide a substantial amount of supporting documents throughout the application process.
Here at IAS we have a team of lawyers that specialise in UK immigration law, they can assist you with every aspect of the British citizenship application process. We have lawyers based in areas across the UK and United States but if you cannot make it to one of our offices in person we also offer all of our services remotely.
Our lawyers can help you to fill in the British citizenship application form, assist you with gathering all of the required documents and write you a Letter of Representation to support your application. They will also be there to answer any question you may have about the Life in the UK Test, other requirements or any aspect of the application process.
Once you have been successfully granted British citizenship you can apply for your first UK passport. The application form can be complex and your application maybe refused if you make a mistake. We offer an application checking service that will see one of our lawyers thoroughly check your application for any mistakes or inaccuracies before it is submitted.
For more information about how our lawyers can help you to apply for British citizenship or a UK passport, get in touch today on +1 844 290 6312.
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