Naturalisation as a British Citizen. Frequently Asked Questions
If someone has moved to the UK for a specified period of time, they may be able to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, depending on their situation. The most common way of becoming naturalised is to hold settlement, otherwise known as Indefinite Leave to Remain status for a continuous period of 12 months.
In order to be naturalised as a British citizen, you will need to meet certain statutory criteria with regard to your immigration status, length of residence in the UK, future intentions, knowledge of the English language and life in the UK, and good character. The requirements for British citizenship by Naturalisation vary slightly depending on whether you are married to a British citizen or not.
Q: If my application is successful, will I get my British passport?
A: The application is to be naturalised as a British citizen. A passport application is a separate application that comes after the naturalisation application. Once you have submitted your application for naturalisation you will need to wait for a decision. If you application is successful, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will be presented with your certificate of naturalisation. You are finally British! Once you have this certificate, you will then be able to apply for your first British passport.
Q: I heard applications can take up to 6 months, can I leave the UK during this time?
A: One of the best perks of reaching this stage of your immigration journey is that you are able to travel outside of the UK whilst your application is being considered without having your travel impact your application. The absences submitted in relation to your application will not be increased by your travel during the time your application is being considered.
Q: My absences are more than 450 days in the last 5 years, what should I do?
A: Firstly, please do not worry, you cannot change your past travel. The Home Office does have discretion in granting applications where the applicant’s absences exceed the permitted allowable absences. The Home Office permit discretion to be exercised where the applicant has absences of between 480 – 900 days in the last 5 years. Factors that the Home Office consider when looking at whether or not to exercise discretion include the reason for travel, if the applicant has established their home in the UK, how long they have been living in the UK and family and financial circumstances.
Q: I got permanent residence one year ago, but I was illegal in the UK 7 years ago, can I apply now?
A: Unfortunately, we would recommend not to apply. This is because the good character requirement covers any breaches of immigration law. The Home Office expect an applicant to have a clear history. This means that to make a safe application, you should wait 10 years from the date you regularised (no longer were unlawful) your stay in the UK before making an application.
Q: If my application is refused, will I get a refund?
A: Unfortunately not. As your application has been processed and considered, the fact that the outcome is a negative one does not mean that you are eligible for a refund.
Q: I was told I can apply for naturalisation straight after I receive ILR, but I keep reading about needing to wait 12 months?
A: The answer to this question depends on your circumstances and what legal provision you are applying under. If you are married to a British national, then you are eligible to apply for naturalisation straight after receiving ILR. If you are not married to a British national then you will need to have been free of immigration time restrictions (ie have ILR) for at least 12 months immediately before applying. Unlike an application for ILR, you are not eligible to apply 28 days before the 12 month period. Please note that if you are applying on the basis that you are married to a British national, the requirements vary slightly, such as the absence requirement.
Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including UK, Turkey, Vanuatu, EU & the Caribbean.
For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 207 292 2977