The Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining British Citizenship

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining British Citizenship

British citizenship – Can be obtained automatically, via registration, or through the process of naturalisation.

If you’ve been a resident in the UK for over five years and have attained settled status, you may qualify to apply for British citizenship through a naturalisation application.

Naturalisation can serve as a pathway for long-term residents to officially adopt the UK as your home. However, the process of naturalisation can be expensive, and the stakes are high. If your application is denied, your fees will not be refunded, and there is no right to appeal the decision.

Given the gravity of these consequences, it’s crucial to ensure your application is correctly filled out and submitted the first time around.

At our London-based law firm, Adel Jibs & Co Solicitors, we understand the intricacies of the naturalisation process and the importance of getting it right on the first attempt.

Our team of expert solicitors is here to guide you through each step, providing you with the advice and support you need to successfully navigate this complex journey.

Through our professional guidance, we aim to transform the challenging process of naturalisation into a manageable task, thereby helping you make your dream of British citizenship a reality.

Unless you are British citizenship through ancestry, you’ll need to apply for it via the UK Home Office to be granted a British citizenship.

This process requires that you meet certain eligibility requirements, which vary depending on whether you’re applying on grounds of residency, marriage, birth, or descent.

Eligibility for Naturalisation

For those who wish to naturalise as a British citizen, there are specific requirements to be met. You must be over 18 years old and have held a valid UK status under indefinite leave to remain, permanent residence, or EU settled status for a minimum of 12 months.

However, if you’re married to a British citizen, you can apply immediately upon receiving your settled status without waiting for 12 months.

British Citizenship through Naturalisation

Qualifying for naturalisation as a British citizen based on residency necessitates meeting certain criteria:

  1. Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Residency: You must have lived continuously in the UK for 3 years before your application date without exceeding 270 days of absence during this period, and no more than 90 days of absence in the 12 months prior to application.
  3. Immigration Status: You must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, or as an EEA national, have permanent residence in the UK or have been granted EU settled status for at least 12 months.
  4. Good Character: You must meet the good character requirements, which include not having a serious or recent criminal record.
  5. Knowledge of English and Life in the UK: You need to meet the English language requirements and pass the Life in the UK test.
  6. Compliance with Immigration Rules: You must have abided by the UK immigration rules throughout the qualifying period.
  7. Intent to Reside: You plan to continue living in the UK.

Understanding the Good Character Requirement

The good character requirement is a nuanced area and a common reason for refusal of British citizenship applications.

This requirement, applicable to applicants over the age of 10, requires a clean criminal record and adherence to UK immigration rules in the 10 years preceding your application. Previous offences and convictions can impact your application, but several factors, such as the nature of the offence or conviction, are taken into account.

Full disclosure of any offences is mandatory, although ‘spent’ convictions may not be considered.

Life in the UK Test & English Language Requirement

To be eligible for UK nationality, you must demonstrate proficiency in English and adequate knowledge about ‘life in the UK’. This can be done by acquiring a degree taught or researched in English or by passing an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT). Nationals from certain countries are exempt from the language requirement.

The Life in the UK test is a computer-based exam that tests your knowledge of British life, traditions, politics, and customs. Once you pass this test, you can proceed with your citizenship application.

Completing the British Citizenship Application Form

For adults applying for British citizenship, you’ll need to accurately fill out Form AN and provide all necessary supporting documents. Make sure your referees meet the stipulated criteria.

Incomplete or incorrect applications can be rejected, and application fees are non-refundable. You’ll need to schedule an appointment to submit your supporting documents, fingerprints, and photograph at a UKVCAS centre.

Once submitted, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application, scrutinising your visa status, tax status, and any immigration, criminal or civil legal issues. If granted citizenship, you’ll be invited to a citizenship ceremony to receive your certificate of naturalisation.

Supporting Documents

You must submit all required supporting documents with your citizenship application.

These typically include identification, proof of passing the Life in the UK test and English language requirements, evidence of your UK residence and valid settled status, and documents confirming your nationality and marital status.

Processing Time for British Citizenship Application

British citizenship applications usually take up to six months to process, but it may take longer if there are issues with your documentation or application form. This makes it paramount to ensure your submission is complete and accurate.

Navigating the process of obtaining British citizenship can be complex, but with careful attention to detail, it’s a manageable task.

Always remember to seek professional advice when necessary to ensure your application is accurately completed and successfully processed.

Gaining British citizenship through marriage entails meeting specific criteria:

  1. Age: An applicant must be of legal age, over 18 years old.
  2. Residency: The UK should have been your main residence for the past 12 months, with no absence exceeding 90 days, or a total of 270 days across the previous three years. This rule may not apply if your spouse is working abroad for the Crown or in a designated service.
  3. Immigration Status: You are expected to hold an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, or, if you’re an EEA national, possess permanent residence in the UK or have been granted EU settled status.
  4. Character: A clean criminal record is necessary, as you are expected to fulfill good character requirements.
  5. Knowledge: Mastery of the English language is a prerequisite, along with passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test, demonstrating your understanding of British customs, traditions, and the broader cultural landscape.
  6. Compliance: Adherence to UK immigration rules during the qualifying period is critical.
  7. Intent: A firm intention to continue residing in the UK with your spouse or civil partner is necessary.

For EEA nationals, the rules are slightly different. After five years or more of UK residency, you are eligible to apply for British citizenship. Once you have full EU settled status, you can apply after just 12 months, provided you meet the residency prerequisites.

As for dual citizenship, the UK embraces this concept. You can simultaneously hold British citizenship and the citizenship of your original country, as long as your original country also allows dual nationality. Renouncing your initial nationality is not a requisite to become a British citizen. Similarly, British nationals seeking foreign citizenship are allowed to retain their British status.

The regulations on dual nationality vary from country to country, so it’s wise to consult with the embassy of your original country in the UK. In certain situations, you may need to forgo your original citizenship to acquire British citizenship.

British Overseas Territories Citizenship:

There are numerous British Overseas Territories, including Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. If you did not automatically obtain British citizenship, you might still be eligible to register as a British citizen if you became a British Overseas Territories citizen after 21 May 2002, provided you satisfy specific criteria.

British Overseas Citizen:

If you were a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982 and did not acquire either British citizenship or British Overseas Territories citizenship on 1 January 1983, you would have become a British Overseas Citizen. While British Overseas Citizens can hold a British passport, they are still subject to immigration controls, meaning they do not have an automatic right to live and work in the UK. However, under certain circumstances, they may be eligible to register as a British citizen.

British Subject:

A person would have been classified as a British subject on 1 January 1983 if they were a British subject on 31 December 1948 who did not become a citizen of the UK and Colonies, a Commonwealth country, Pakistan, or Ireland, essentially making them a British subject without citizenship. This category also includes people who were citizens of Ireland on 31 December 1948 but opted to remain a British subject.

Furthermore, if you are a woman who registered as a British subject based on your marriage to a man in one of the aforementioned categories, you would have been recognized as a British subject from 1 January 1983. Similar to British Overseas Territories citizens and British Overseas Citizens, British subjects can hold a British passport but do not have the automatic right to live and work in the UK. However, they may be eligible to register as a British citizen provided they meet certain conditions.



British National Overseas (BNO):

British Overseas Territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as British nationals overseas and held no other nationality or citizenship as of 30 June 1997 automatically transitioned to the status of British Overseas Citizens on 1 July 1997. If you were a British Overseas Territories citizen connected to Hong Kong, you could have registered as a British national overseas prior to 1 July 1997. Like other types of British nationality, British nationals overseas can hold a British passport. However, in order to secure the right to live and work in the UK without immigration restrictions, you will need to register as a British citizen.

British Protected Person:

You would have become a British protected person on 1 January 1983 if you were a citizen or national of Brunei, already a British protected person, or a child of a British protected person who would otherwise have been stateless in the UK or an overseas territory. However, you may have lost your status as a British protected person if the territory to which you were connected gained independence and you acquired citizenship of that country, or if you obtained any other nationality or citizenship. Just like other forms of British nationality, British protected persons can hold a British passport, but to obtain additional rights, you need to register as a British citizen.

Registration of British Nationality:

British overseas citizens, British protected persons, British subjects, or British nationals overseas can apply to register as British citizens using the online Form B(OS). However, for the application to be successful, you must meet several requirements under British nationality law. Additionally, from 4 July 2002, or 19 March 2009 for British nationals overseas, you must not have renounced, voluntarily given up, or lost any citizenship or nationality through any action or inaction.

The application requires submission of documentary evidence of your British nationality, as well as proof of no other citizenship or nationality.

Also, you must enrol your biometric information – a digital photograph of your face and a scan of your fingerprints – at an additional cost of £19.20.

If your application is successful and you are 18 or over living in the UK, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony to pledge your loyalty to the UK and the Crown. Upon completion, you will be presented with a certificate of registration as a British citizen.

Form B(OTA) can be used to register as a British Citizen if you reside in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory or if you want to apply by post from another location. This applies to British overseas territories citizens, British Overseas citizens, British protected persons, British subjects or British Nationals (Overseas).

You should be of good character, meet the 5-year residence requirements (with no more than 450 days abroad during that period, and no more than 90 days abroad in the last 12 months), or have served as a Crown servant, for example in the armed forces or overseas civil service. Alternatively, you can meet the specific requirements for British Overseas Territories citizens.

In all instances, and when using Form B(OTA) as with Form B(OS), if you are successful and aged 18 or over, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony.

Adel Jibs & Co is a UK immigration firm based in London. We offer comprehensive assistance with all categories of UK citizenship and nationality applications, inclusive of expert guidance on applications for British citizenship via naturalisation or registration. For professional advice, please feel free to contact us.


Please note that the information provided here serves general purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional legal advice.



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