British Citizenship & Naturalisation

If you are at least 18 years old and have been granted indefinite leave to remain or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for Naturalisation as a British citizen.

Eligibility Requirements:

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.

If you are not married to a British citizen (or do not wish to rely on your marriage to a British citizen) the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day five years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that five year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK and have not been subject to any such time limit at any time during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language;
  • Your intentions are that if your application is successful your home (or principal home) will be in the UK.

If you are married to a British citizen, the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day three years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the intervening three year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that three year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK at the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language.

The Secretary of State has a discretion to treat applicants as meeting some of the requirements even where those requirements are not met. This includes:

  • The permitted absence requirements (e.g. if you have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 month period prior to your application);
  • The 12 month ‘no time limit’ requirement;
  • The requirement not to have been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during the three or five year qualifying period.

The Secretary of State has a discretion to waive the language and life in the UK requirements on grounds of the applicant’s age, physical or mental condition.The Secretary of State has no discretion to waive, or to treat applicants as meeting, the following requirements:

  • To have been in the UK at the start of the three or five year qualifying period (although there is some discretion in relation to members of the armed forces);
  • To be free of any restriction on the period you may stay in the UK (i.e. to have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK or to have acquired a right of permanent residence);
  • To be of good character.

British Citizenship by other ways.

In order to qualify for British Citizenship by Automatic Acquisition you will need to show that you are a British citizen by operation of law.

The most common ways to automatically acquire British citizenship by law are:

  • To have been born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and at the time of your birth either your mother or your father was a British citizen or settled in the UK;
  • To have been born outside the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and at the time of your birth either your mother or your father was a British citizen otherwise than by descent; or
  • To have been born before 1 January 1983 and immediately before that date to have been a Citizen of the UK and Colonies with a right of abode in the United Kingdom.

The EU nationals must meet below requirements for British Citizenship.

  • You must have been in the UK for 6 or more years;
  • During your time in the UK, you must have been exercising Treaty Rights e.g. working, self-employed, or a student, for example;
  • You must meet the residence requirements which include an assessment of your absences from the UK and where you intend to live after making the application;
  • You will need to pass the Life in the UK Test;
  • You also need to pass an approved English Language Test – or have an approved degree from /be a national of a majority English speaking country;
  • You must meet the “Good Character” guidance, for example, no recent or serious criminal convictions, you must not be bankrupt, or associated with those considered to have “bad character”

In order to be entitled to register as a British citizen, you will need to satisfy the Home Office that you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you are not automatically a British citizen by birth, your mother and/or your father became British citizens or settled in the UK before your 18th birthday, and you applied for registration before your 18th birthday; or
  • You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you are not automatically a British citizen by birth, on or after 13 January 2010 your mother and/or your father became a member of the armed forces before your 18th birthday, and you applied for registration before your 18th birthday; or
  • You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you are not automatically a British citizen by birth, you were absent from the UK for no more than 90 days in each of the first ten years of your life, and you applied for registration at any time after your 10th birthday (you may therefore apply under this provision at any age); or
  • You were born outside the UK on or after 1 January 1983, at the time of your birth one of your parents was a British citizen by descent, that parent’s father or mother was a British citizen otherwise than by descent, at any time prior to your birth that parent had been in the UK for a consecutive period of at least three years, during that three year period that parent had not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days, and you applied for registration before your 18th birthday; or
  • You were born outside the UK on or after 1 January 1983, at the time of your birth one of your parents was a British citizen by descent, you apply for registration before your 18th birthday, you and your parents were in the UK on the day 3 years before the application is made, during the intervening 3 year period neither you nor your parents have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days, and both your mother and your father consent to the registration; or
  • You were born outside the UK and Colonies before 1 January 1983, at the time of your birth your mother was a Citizen of the UK and Colonies, you would have automatically been a Citizen of the UK and Colonies by descent through your mother if specific provisions of British nationality law had provided for this at the time of your birth in the same way as it provided for citizenship by descent through a father, and if in those circumstances you would have had the right of abode in the UK immediately before 1 January 1983; or
  • You were born in the UK before 1 July 2006, your parents were not married at the time of your birth, you have never been a British citizen, and you would have become a British citizen in certain specific circumstances had your parents been married at the time of your birth; or
  • You are a British Overseas Territories Citizen, a British National (Overseas), a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, or a British protected person, you apply for registration, you were in the UK five years before the date of application, during the intervening five year period you were not absent from the UK for more than 450 days or in the UK in breach of the immigration laws, and in the twelve months immediately before the date of application you were not absent from the UK for more than 90 days or subject to any restriction on the period for which you might remain in the UK; or
  • You are a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, a British protected person, or a British National (Overseas), you apply for registration, the Secretary of State is satisfied that you do not have any other citizenship or nationality, and the Secretary of State is satisfied that you have not voluntarily lost through action or inaction any other nationality at any time after 4 July 2002 (or, if you are only a British National (Overseas), after 19 March 2009); or
  • You were born outside the UK on or after 13 January 2010, at the time of your birth your mother or father was a member of the armed forces serving outside the UK, you apply for registration, and if you are under 18 at the date of application your parents consent to the registration.

You may also be entitled to be registered as a British citizen if you have previously renounced British citizenship, you are of full capacity, and your renunciation of British citizenship was necessary to enable you to acquire or retain some other citizenship or nationality.

If you are not entitled to be registered as a British citizen you may still apply for registration on a discretionary basis:

  • As a child, at any time before your 18th birthday;
  • As a British overseas territories citizen, at any time.

Please call one of our expert immigration lawyers on 0330 058 3929 to discuss about naturalising as a British citizen.