- British citizenship by marriage
- Who can apply?
- How to apply for British citizenship by marriage
- How long does it take?
- Residency requirements
- Qualifying for good character
- Sound mind requirement
- Life in the UK Test
- English language test
- What happens afterwards?
- British citizenship ceremony
- How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help
What is British citizenship by marriage?
Becoming a British citizen is often the final step in a lengthy immigration process for those wishing to settle in the UK.
There are several routes you can take when it comes to registering for British citizenship, including Indefinite Leave to Remain, British citizenship by birth and British citizenship by descent, to name a few of the routes available. It all depends on your individual circumstances.
If your partner is a British citizen and you wish to settle in the UK together, then acquiring British citizenship through marriage may be the best route for you.
British citizenship by marriage is achieved through a process called ‘naturalisation’.
It may be worth noting that being married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen does not automatically qualify you for British citizenship, you must also meet other specific eligibility criteria. You can find out more about requirements to register for British nationality by scrolling down this page.
Who can apply?
If you are married or are in a civil partnership with a British citizen then you can apply for citizenship by marriage.
In order to register for UK nationality, you also need to:
- Be over the age of 18
- Have lived in the UK continuously for the past 3 years
- Have not had excessive periods of absence from the UK in the past 3 years
- Have been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residence
Before you apply for British citizenship by marriage you should make sure you can meet the following requirements:
- Be aged 18 or older at the time of your application
- Be able to demonstrate your “good character”, meaning that you have not broken any UK law
- Have lived for at least three years in the UK
- Have been granted settled status under Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Prove adequate knowledge of English by passing an accredited language exam
- Pass the Life in the UK test to show your commitment to British customs
If you’re from the European Economic Area (EEA) you must also be able to produce confirmation that you hold a permanent residence in the UK following EEA Regulations.
How to apply
To apply for British citizenship by marriage (naturalisation), you can fill in the AN form available on the gov.uk
After you have submitted your paperwork and paid your application fees, you will need to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. Here your fingerprints and photos will be collected, and you will be able to scan and submit a copy of your documents.
If you don’t wish to apply online, you can send your form, your documentation, and your paper payment slip to the UKVI.
It costs £1,300 to apply for British citizenship by marriage (naturalisation).
You should also take into account other costs you may incur during the application process, these include:
- English language test – £150
- Life in the UK test – £50
- Having your biometric information (fingerprints and photos) collected – £19.20
- Translation of documents – varying prices depending on the length of documents
If your British citizenship application is refused, then you won’t be refunded your naturalisation application fees. This means it is important to ensure you send all the correct documents and provide all the information you need to. Our expert immigration lawyers can check your documents and help you with your application to give you the best chance of success, so don’t hesitate to contact us now.
How long does it take to acquire British citizenship by marriage?
The time it takes to register for UK nationality via the naturalisation route can vary.
Partners of British citizens can be eligible for naturalisation within 3 years, but it’s important to remember that you must already be settled in the UK and that the minimum amount of time required to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain is 5 years.
This is why it will still usually take around 5 years to acquire British citizenship by marriage (or civil partner), but this time can vary depending on how long it takes for you to get a decision on your application for each part of the process.
If you want to remain in the UK after this time you must apply for an extension of your visa such as a spouse visa extension. If you are granted an extension then you will be able to stay in the UK for another 2.5 years.
Once you have stayed in the UK continuously for 5 years you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
As soon as you have ILR you are eligible to apply for British citizenship through marriage or civil partnership.
After you have submitted your request to register for UK nationality to the Home Office, you will usually get an answer within 6 months. However, it may take longer for the UKVI to process your British citizenship case if you fail to provide adequate supporting documents, or if you made any mistake while completing your forms.
If your situation changes during your application (for example, if you divorce your partner), you must contact the UKVI as soon as possible.
What are the residential requirements?
To qualify for British citizenship by marriage, you must have lived in the UK for at least three years before you submit your application. You are also required to meet the residency conditions. This means you must not have:
- Spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the three-year qualifying period before your application
- Spent more than 90 days abroad in the last 12 months before you submit your forms
- Broken any UK immigration law at any time during your residency in the UK
What is the good character requirement
Anyone over the age of 10 applying for British citizenship has to be able to fulfill the “good character” requirement.
The British Nationality Act of 1981 doesn’t define “good character” but to satisfy this requirement you will have to show that you have respected UK laws and have been a good resident in the UK since you first entered the country.
When assessing whether you show “good character” the home office will generally take into account:
- Criminal convictions
- Breaking of any immigration laws
- War crimes or terrorism offenses
- Financial soundness
- Deception or dishonesty
If you have a severe or recent criminal record, including any custodial sentence of more than 4 years, your British citizenship application will be refused. The same applies to those who have been guilty of an immigration offense in the last 10 years before their application, or those who have first entered the country illegally.
Any imprisonment between 12 months and four years will impact your British citizenship application unless at least 15 years have passed since the end of the sentence.
Positive factors, like any contributions you have made to society, will also be considered.
What is the sound mind requirement?
Regardless of your current immigration status, you must be of sound mind to register for British nationality. This means that you must be able to understand what becoming a citizen of the UK entails and that you are aware of the steps you are taking.
The Home Office may exempt some applicants from this requirement only in specific circumstances, for example, if being granted British citizenship is in the applicant’s best interests.
If you are completing a citizenship application on behalf of your spouse who is not of sound mind, you will need to attach a letter stating your position as the legal representative of that person and adequate documentation explaining his or her mental condition.
Life in the UK Test
Anyone seeking British citizenship or Indeifinite Leave to Remain must take and pass a Life in the UK Test, also known as the British Citizenship Test.
The Life in the UK Test is done on a computer at one of 30 test centres in the UK. You will have 45 minutes to complete it. It consists of 24 questions on topics such as British history, values, and traditions.
You must achieve at least 75% or more in the test to pass it.
You can book the test online and must do so at least 3 days in advance.
Knowledge of English
When applying for British citizenship by marriage you might need to prove your knowledge of the English language.
You can prove this by either:
- Having a degree that was taught in English
- Passing an English language test from a registered centre at either B1, B2, C1 or C2 level
You don’t have to prove your knowledge of the English language if you:
- Are over 65
- Have a long-term mental or physical condition that means you are unable to do so
- If you are a citizen from one of these countries where English is the official language:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Ireland (for citizenship only)
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
What happens after I get my British citizenship certificate?
Once your application for British citizenship is successful, you will receive a British citizenship certificate. At this point you must return your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the Home Office within 5 working days.
You should also attach a note to explain why you are returning your permit. If you don’t return you BRP back to the Home Office in time then you could be fined up to £1,000.
Once you become a British citizen, you will no longer be able to use your BRP to enter the UK. Instead, you can use your certificate of citizenship until you receive your passport.
If you do not wish to apply for a British passport, you can request a certificate of entitlement.
Do I need to attend a citizenship ceremony if my application is successful?
Those who acquire British citizenship by marriage or otherwise, and are 18 or over, are required to attend a citizenship ceremony at the end of their application process. Your ceremony must be booked within three months of receiving an invitation from the Home Office. The citizenship ceremony will be organised by your local council, and you are usually allowed to take up to two guests.
It costs £80 to attend a group ceremony, while private events may cost more, depending on your local council’s regulation.
If you are outside the UK, you can ask the embassy or consulate in the country where you live if you can have your ceremony there.
How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help
Here at the Manchester Immigration Lawyers we know that the British immigration process can be complicated and stressful, particularly if you are waiting to settle in the UK with a loved one. Our Manchester team of immigration lawyers are happy to help you on your journey towards gaining British citizenship status.
Based on your circumstances, your dedicated immigration lawyer will assess your case and investigate all your options to naturalise as a British citizen.
You can also hire one of our immigration experts to ensure that there are no issues with your British citizenship by marriage application.
Your dedicated Manchester Immigration Lawyer will assess your eligibility and ensure that you hold all the necessary documentation. To support your case, we will also write a Letter of Representation and complete your application forms to the highest standard.
Call us on 01618269783 or enquire online to receive advice or to begin your British citizenship by marriage application.
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Once you receive your British citizenship certificate, you can apply for your first adult passport. If you hold a British child passport, you can still use it until expires, even if you are aged 16 or over. An adult passport is valid for ten years and can be used to demonstrate your status as a citizen of the United Kingdom. It is also accepted as your identification document when travelling abroad.
If you naturalise in the UK and obtain your passport, you will be free to leave the country and re-enter at any time without the need to apply for a Visa.
It costs £75.50 to apply online, while you will be charged £85 for a paper application. Fees may vary if you are submitting your forms from abroad.
As a general rule, children automatically acquire British nationality if they were born in the UK from at least one parent who is a British citizen or settled person.
However, it is always advisable to seek legal guidance to check if your children are eligible to obtain British citizenship in any other way.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for citizenship if your British partner died before you submit your forms.
However, if you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, EU settled status or permanent residence status, you may be eligible to register for British nationality through other immigration routes.
To qualify for British citizen by marriage, you must have lived in the UK for at least three years before the date of your application. Most importantly, you must be a settled person.
Before you apply for citizenship in the UK, you must have one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR)
- EU Settled Status
- Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (that is the permission to move to the UK permanently from abroad)
It must be noted that, as a part of your citizenship application, you will be asked to provide proof of your permanent residence status.
If your application for British citizenship by marriage is refused then you will receive a letter from the Home Office to tell you why.
There is no right of appeal against the decision but if you believe your application shouldn’t have been refused then you can request for the Home Office to reconsider your application using form NR on the gov.uk website.
Unfortunately, you won’t receive a refund of the cost of your application if it is refused.
Anyone who is over 18 and has been successful in their application for British citizenship must attend a citizenship ceremony.
During the ceremony, you will need to make an oath of allegiance and a pledge. You can also choose to affirm the oath instead, this means there won’t be any religious context if you don’t wish to swear by God. By doing this you will be promising to respect the rights, freedoms, and laws of the UK.
The ceremony will finish after you have been given your British citizenship certificate and a welcome pack.