USA and the UK
Requirements for British Citizenship
To become a British citizen, you must meet the requirements for British Citizenship, through either Naturalization or Registration. For the over 18s, the most common route is Naturalization. There are many requirements for Naturalizing as a British citizen. These include residency requirements, good character requirements, proof of English Language ability (if necessary), and the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
There is also a continuous residence requirement. This means you will need to have lived in the UK for five consecutive years and have held settled status for at least one.
How can IAS help?
We at IAS understand that applying for British Citizenship is one of the most important processes you will undergo. Our attorneys are dedicated to making sure you meet the requirements for British Citizenship before you apply. We can give you professional guidance for every step of your application.
Routes to British Citizenship
Depending on your circumstances, acquiring British Citizenship can be achieved via several different routes.
British Citizenship by Birth – You may automatically be recognized as a British citizen if you were born in the UK after 1st January 1983.
British Citizenship by Descent – You may be eligible for British Citizenship if one of your parents or grandparents was a British citizen when you were born.
British Citizenship by Marriage – To apply for British Citizenship as the spouse or civil partner of a UK citizen, you need to have been living in UK for at least 3 years as a settled person (through Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status).
5-year route – After 5 years of residence in the UK, you are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Then, after another 12 months as a settled person, you are allowed to submit your application for British Citizenship. The same applies if you are an EU and EEA citizen on the EU Settled Scheme.
British Citizenship for child born abroad – You may be eligible for British Citizenship if you were born abroad from at least one parent who is a British citizen or settled person.
Citizenship for “stateless” individuals – If you are “stateless” and are not recognized as a citizen of any country, you could be eligible for British Citizenship. The country in which you were born will determine both your eligibility and the application process you need to follow.
How to apply for British Citizenship
To apply for British Citizenship you need to complete and submit the application form provided by the UKVI, along with all supporting documentation.
You will need to collect you biometric details (photograph and fingerprint scans) at your nearest UKVCAS centre.
The Home Office may allow you to provide your information at a local post office, in which case they will contact you.
You can apply for British Citizenship either from abroad or from within the UK.
Required supporting documents
It is vital to prepare adequate supporting documentation to show that you meet all the requirements for British Citizenship. This will help the Home Office evaluate your application more efficiently and will speed up the processing time.
Here is a list of documents you will need to submit to the Home Office when you apply for British citizenship.
British Citizenship required documents
You will need to provide evidence of the following:
- Your identity and permanent residence status – passport, birth certificate, or any valid travel document
- Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), residence card, or proof of holding Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status
- Your previous immigration status and your right to remain in the UK, including any visa that you held before you settled in the UK
- English language certificate and Life in the UK test certificate. (Note that if completed the Life in the UK Test when you obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will not need to resit the exam)
- Lawful residential presence in the UK during the qualifying period.
- Travel details of any absence period spent outside the UK. To comply with the requirements for British citizenship, you cannot be away from the UK for more than 450 days during the five year residence period
- Show that you have never been in breach of any UK immigration laws and are free from immigration restrictions
- Show that you have the right to remain in the UK
- Good character requirement
- Depending on your immigration status, proof that you have exercised treaty right in the last three to five years. Such proof can be letters to confirm your current employment, bank statements, or letters from your university or college.
Applying for British Citizenship after Indefinite Leave to Remain
Both Indefinite Leave to Remain (including permanent residence and EU Settled status) and British Citizenship grant you the right to live, work and study in the UK without any immigration controls. However, Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship are two distinct statuses, so here are the differences:
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
You can apply for ILR after five years of living continuously in the UK. With this status, you are considered to officially be a British settled person. You will be able to live permanently in the UK, access public funds, leave and re-enter the UK without the need for a visa, and be joined by your family.
Holding ILR is a necessary step before you can apply for naturalisation in the UK as a citizen. However, note that you can lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain status if you are absent from the UK for more than two years.
British Citizenship grants you full rights and responsibilities, including the ability to obtain a British passport, as well as vote in UK elections. Another key difference is that you will be able to leave the UK for unlimited periods of time without losing your citizenship status.
Life in the UK test
The Life in the UK test, also known as the British Citizenship test, is one of the requirements for British Citizenship (as well as for Indefinite Leave to Remain). It is a test covering topics such as British values, history, traditions, and customs.
The Home Office offers a Life in the UK test handbook from which the test questions are mostly based. The test pass mark is 75%.
If you have already passed the test as part of your Indefinite Leave to Remain application, you will not need to do it again as part of the requirements for British Citizenship.
Others who are also exempt are those aged between 18 and 65 and those who have a long-term illness or disability.
You can book your test online, and this must be done at least three days in advance. You may only choose one of the five centres closest to where you live. Note that if you book at a centre further away you will not be able to sit the test or obtain a refund of the fee. It costs £50 for the test. There are around 50 test centres.
On the day of your exam, you must bring ID and proof of address. Again, if you don’t bring these you will not be able to sit the test and you won’t get a refund.
If you pass the test, you will receive a notification letter that you must submit when you apply for British Citizenship. If you fail the test you can resit it as many times as you need to.
English language requirements
As part of the requirements for British Citizenship, you need to prove your knowledge of the English language.
As part of this process, you will need to show you hold a recognised English test qualification to B1 level or above from an approved test centre.
The only credentials accepted by the UKVI are ESOL certified ones (English for Speakers of Other Languages). This means that if you have any qualifications such as GCSEs and NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) these will not count.
Note that if your English test certificate has expired the Home Office will only allow it if it was accepted for another UK immigration application or when you settled under Indefinite Leave to Remain or under EU Settled Status.
You will be exempt from the English language criteria if you are:
- Are aged 65 or over
- Suffer from a long-term physical or mental condition
- Have a degree that was taught or researched in English
If you studied abroad, you will require an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) to certify that your course is equivalent to a UK qualification and that it was taught in English.
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Those with British Citizenship are able to live, work and study freely in the UK. They are also entitled to vote and can access the NHS without having to pay the NHS surcharge.
Once you have been naturalized, you will be able to travel free of the Immigration Rules.
If you meet the British Citizenship requirements, it can be a useful way of regularizing your stay in the country indefinitely.
Once you have British Citizenship, you will most often hold Dual Nationality. If your country of origin does not allow you to hold Dual Nationality, you will have to renounce your previous nationality as part of your application.
Your children will also be eligible for British Citizenship by birth and you can apply for a British passport.
Applying for British Citizenship will vary depending on your previous circumstances. This includes your current immigration status, country of origin and your age. If you meet the requirements for British Citizenship, you will need to register or apply for Naturalization.
When applying as the spouse of a British citizen, there are different British Citizenship eligibility requirements to meet.
To find out if you meet the requirements for British citizenship for either Registration or Naturalization, get in touch using our online inquiry form today.
The fees for this application will differ when applying from inside or outside of the UK. Currently, an adult applying for British Citizenship from within the UK will pay:
- £1,330 for Naturalization
- £1,206 for Registration
This fee covers the Home Office fees and the Citizenship ceremony you will be required to attend.
All payments to the Home Office are non-refundable and will be subject to your circumstances when applying.
For your child to be eligible for British Citizenship by descent, they must have at least one parent with settled status or British Citizenship at the time of their birth.
If your child has a grandparent who is or was British, he or she may be eligible for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) – otherwise called by double descent.
If your child is not eligible for British Citizenship by birth, you will need to register them when they meet the UK citizenship requirements.
To fulfill the requirements for British citizenship after their birth, you will need to gain settled status in order to register them.
Find out more about applying for British Citizenship for your child born abroad.
The requirements for British Citizenship by marriage are slightly different from the usual. The most significant difference is the continuous residence requirement. The spouse of a British citizen only needs to show three years’ continuous residence for their application. However, you will still need to have held settled status for at least a year before your application.
Your application will also be dependent on your continued relationship with your spouse in the UK.
Find out more about British Citizenship by marriage.
The process of applying for British Citizenship is extensive, difficult and can be very stressful. We at IAS can help you ensure you meet the requirements for British Citizenship before you begin your application. This will give you the best chance of success.
Our services include:
- A personal meeting with your attorney, in-person, over the phone or via Skype
- Complete document check and organization of your evidence before you submit it to the Home Office
- Professional completion of all your application forms
- Detailed Letter of Representation. This document is written by your attorney and references UK immigration law to support your case
- Preparation for your ‘Life in the UK’ test and (if required) your English Language test
- Handling all further contact with the Home Office until they reach a decision
To ensure you meet the complex requirements for British Citizenship before you make your application, or if you have any queries you’d like to discuss with an experienced immigration lawyer, call +1844 290 6312 or make an inquiry online.