USA and the UK
Overview of British Citizenship
United States citizens living in the UK can acquire British citizenship either by birth or by registration. As a matter of registration, applicants may apply for naturalization if they are aged 18 or over. To be eligible to become a British national, applicants need to prove that they have been in the UK on Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status for at least 5 years, and that they have never broken UK law, including immigration breaches.
Once their British citizenship request is approved, they can live, work and study in the UK permanently, without any immigration restrictions. Applicants will also be able to travel and spend time in the United States or anywhere else without the need to worry about losing their British citizenship status.
- Overview of British Citizenship
- Eligibility Requirements to Acquire British Citizenship
- Document Required for British Citizenship Application
- Requirements for U.S. Citizens to Acquire British Citizenship by Descent (Automatic Citizenship)
- Requirements for British Citizenship for U.S. Applicants under 18 Years
- British Citizenship by Naturalization
- Eligibility Requirements for UK Naturalization
- What is the Cost of British Citizenship Application?
- Advantages of British Citizenship Over ILR
- How Can IAS Help?
Based on the British Nationality Act, those who wish to become British citizens must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be over the age of 18.
- Have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK for at least 12 months.
- Meet the B1 CEFR level English language requirements (unless exempt).
- Pass the Life in the UK Test, to show that you are aware of the basics of the British customs, traditions and culture.
- Not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules.
- Demonstrate that they meet the Good Character requirement.
- Have spent at least 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, with no longer than 450 days outside the UK.
In proving your stay in the UK, you need to show that you were:
- Living in the UK for the 5 years before you apply
- Outside the UK for no more than 270 days in those 5 years
- Outside the UK for no more than 90 days in the past 12 months
- You also need to make sure you were in the UK on the same day 5 years ago as the day you’re applying.
If you weren’t in the UK exactly 5 years ago, it’s usually best to wait until it’s been 5 years since the date you returned to the UK and then apply.
The “Good Character” requirement
To qualify for British citizenship, you must demonstrate your “good character”. This means that you must not hold any severe nor recent criminal record. The Home Office will also review any criminal offence committed overseas and UK immigration-related issues. On the other hand, the UKVI will take into accounts any contributions that you may have made to society.
You need to provide the following documents when you apply for your UK citizenship:
You have to submit your current passport, and any other previous visas you may have held, either for the UK or other countries. Please note that you cannot submit a copy of your passport; it must be the original document
BRP stands for Biometric Residence Permits, and this is a document that the Home Office issues if you stay in the UK for longer than 6 months. The BRP contains all your details, your immigration status, fingerprints and picture. You must have a valid BRP when you want to apply for British citizenship.
National insurance number
If your NI is not stamped in your BRP, you must apply for a national insurance number- you must be in the UK to apply for a NI.
Evidence of the English language
You have to provide evidence that you have either completed a valid degree taught in English (or in the UK) or that you have completed one of the approved tests with an approved test provider in the UK:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- Trinity College London (PSI Services- UK, Ltd- if you are out of the UK)
Proof of citizenship test
You need to provide your test certificate, stamped and signed by the test supervisor if you passed the test before October 1st of 2019. If you passed the test after this date, provide your test reference number.
You need to provide your tax reference number, which is usually found in your payslip.
Your previous employment and living history
You need to provide details of your previous employment and living situation. This includes your previous, and current address. If you spent time out of the country, please provide the dates, the length of time, and the reason for your visit.
Evidence of freedom from immigration time restrictions
You must provide evidence that you have freedom from immigration time restrictions at the time of application. This is particularly important if you are applying to join your partner. Usually, this information is found on your BRP, but you may also submit a letter from the Home Office saying that you are free from the immigration conditions.
You have to provide the names, and personal details, of two referees who can prove your identity. Your referees must not be relatives, migration agents, or employees of the Home Office. Choose your referees carefully, as they cannot be a referee if they had a criminal conviction in the last 10 years. You can find more details about the eligibility criteria of your referees
Requirements for U.S. Citizens to Acquire British Citizenship by Descent (Automatic Citizenship)
US citizens who are direct descendants of British nationals can acquire British citizenship automatically. Although the process is quite straightforward, eligibility requirements as the child of a British citizen have a few parts. The requirements are:
- Either one or both of the applicant’s parents were born in the UK
- Either one or both grandparents of the applicants were born in the UK
- Applicants must be able to prove their biological link with father
In addition, registering for British citizenship if an applicant’s mother is a British citizen is another route to acquiring British citizenship. The eligibility requirements for this method of British citizenship are:
- You must be 18 years or above
- Your date of birth must be earlier than 1983
- You must be able to prove a biological link with your mother
- Your mother must not have lost her British nationality before you were born
Requirements for British Citizenship for U.S. Applicants under 18 Years
As stated earlier, US residents or citizens who are descendants of UK citizens have automatic citizenship in the UK. However, there may be difficulties if the following conditions are not met:
- The parents of the descendants must have lived in the UK for not less than a continuous period of five years
- The applicant’s parents themselves must be direct descendants of UK citizens.
British Citizenship by Naturalization for Americans
Naturalization is the legal process by which US citizens may become British citizens. Normally, the applicants are not British by birth. Those who become British citizens by the legal process of naturalization will be eligible to obtain a British passport. They will become entitled to the same rights and privileges as though they were British citizens by birth. They are able to work, live, and also claim public funds in the United Kingdom. They may also freely move in and out of the United Kingdom without being under immigration control.
Applicants might be able to apply for British citizenship by ‘naturalization’ if they are:
- Over 18 years old and either:
- Moved to the UK
Naturalization is the most common way to get citizenship if you were born outside the UK and don’t have a British parent.
Eligibility Requirements for UK Naturalization
Applicants for British citizenship by naturalization are required to meet specific legal requirements. You are qualified to apply for British naturalization if you fulfill the following criteria:
- You are required to be 18 years old or over.
- You are required to have held settled status in the UK for at least 12 consecutive months. At the time of making your application, you are required to be either under Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or as an EEA national with EU-settled status or permanent residence in the UK
- You are required to have a certain period of steady presence in the UK. You may have your application rejected for excessive absences from the UK during the qualifying period. When calculating the number of days absent, the Home Office does not take into account days that were spent traveling.
- You are required to fulfill the English language requirements and to pass the Life in the UK test.
- You are required to be of ‘good character’. This includes not having a serious or recent criminal record and not having a record of breaking any immigration laws or conditions while in the UK.
- You are required to hold a record of valid and lawful immigration status during the qualifying residency period.
- You are required to have plans of making the UK your permanent home.
What is the Cost of British Citizenship Application for Americans?
When you fill in the application form you have to submit the payment for your citizenship application. Currently, the fee for UK citizenship is £1,330 (or an equivalent of $1658). After you submit your application you will receive a confirmation email regarding your payment, there won’t be a copy of the payment receipt, but the email will suffice as proof of payment.
Advantages of British Citizenship Over ILR
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is also known as “permanent residence” or Settlement. With ILR, you can live and work freely in the UK with no “expiry” date of the ILR status. However, British citizenship still has several advantages over ILR.
Some of the key advantages include the following:
The Right to Vote in UK General Elections and Stand for Public Office: British citizens have the right to vote in all UK elections and stand for public office, whereas non-British citizens with ILR status do not necessarily have these rights.
Eligibility for a British Passport: Those holding UK ILR status are not eligible to apply for a British Passport. British passports allow visa-free travel to a large number of countries and so a British passport may be more beneficial, depending on the holder’s current nationality.
Secure Immigration Status: British citizenship provides a more secure immigration status than ILR, as it cannot normally be taken away (in extreme cases the government may try to revoke Citizenship after it has been granted). ILR status, on the other hand, can be lost if the individual stays outside the UK for 2 or more years at a time.
Potential Eligibility for Dual Citizenship: British citizenship allows an individual to hold dual or multiple citizenships, which can provide additional opportunities and benefits.
Applying for British citizenship can be a complicated process. You may require assistance to ascertain the documentation submission and certain application procedure. IAS can help you understand the procedure clearly and assess the ways in which you are eligible.
We are a formidable team of professional and knowledgeable immigration lawyers who have years’ worth of experience working in UK immigration law. We have helped countless people overcome hurdles to come and settle in the UK, and we can help you to do the same, too.
Whether you need expert advice on how to prove your financial status or your health insurance meets the requirements, or you need help determining how to prove suitability to apply after being away from the UK for some time, we can be of help.
For more information about British citizenship, including what you need to do to be eligible for it, how to apply, and expert advice for your application, reach out to us today on +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online.
Last modified on July 25th, 2023 at 7:33 am
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.