What are the requirements for British nationality?
To successfully apply for British citizenship, there are a number of key criteria that must first be satisfied. The exact set of requirements depends on your personal circumstances and the route through which you are applying for British citizenship.
There are currently two different routes through which British citizenship can be applied for- naturalisation and registration. The two routes are very different: the first is open to those who have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for a minimum of 12 months, whereas the second is open to those who have a claim to British citizenship by birth. For example, someone who was born overseas to a parent who was a British citizen by descent.
The criteria for naturalisation are more lengthy than those for registration, which tend to revolve around where a person was born and the immigration status of their parents. Naturalisation, on the other hand, involves passing the Life in the UK Test and demonstrating the required level of English language proficiency. Contact our client care team today on 0161 826 9783 for more information.
How do I become a British citizen?
As it stands, there are four different ways that a person can become a British citizen.
- Naturalisation: this is open to persons who do not have a claim to British citizenship due to their place of birth or the immigration status of their parents. To be eligible for naturalisation, a person must have held a valid UK visa for the length of time needed to be eligible for ILR/permanent residence/settled status. Once ILR has been held for 12 months, a naturalisation application can be commenced.
- Registration: this is open to persons who do not acquire British citizenship automatically, but do have a claim to citizenship due to their place of birth or the immigration status of their parents.
- Birth: to automatically acquire British citizenship at birth, a person must be born in the UK to at least one British citizen/settled person, or born overseas to at least one parent who is a British citizen otherwise than by descent.
- Adoption: this applies to persons who were adopted by at least one British citizen via an adoption order made in a UK court.
What are the British citizenship English language requirements?
To apply for British citizenship through the process of naturalisation, it is essential that you satisfy the English language requirement. This is achieved through passing an English language test at a minimum level of B1. The test itself can be taken at any verified test centre.
During the test, you will be assessed on your proficiency in both spoken and aural English. The Home Office only accepts certain types of English language qualification- only those approved by ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) will be deemed valid. As a result, more general qualifications such as NVQs and GCSEs will not be deemed acceptable.
There are certain circumstances in which a person will be exempt from the English language requirement. For example, if you have a degree from a recognised institution that was taught in English, you will not need to take the test. You will also be exempt from the requirement if you are a national of the country where English is the predominant language.
It is important to note that some test qualifications only last for two years.
What is the Life in the UK Test?
Passing the Life in the UK Test is also an essential requirement for persons who are applying for British citizenship via the process of Naturalisation. The test is formed of 24 questions that are predominantly based on information that can be found in the Life in the UK handbook- this is provided by the Home Office and should be studied before taking the test.
The test places considerable emphasis on the culture, customs and history of the UK. In order to pass, you need to score a minimum of 75%, which equates to answering 18 out of 24 questions correctly. It is essential that you take the test at an approved test centre. There are currently upwards of 30 approved test centres in the UK, however you will only be able to choose one from the five that are closest to where you are based.
The Life in the UK Test can be booked online. You must book the test at least three days in advance of it being sat. When you sit the test, you will be given 45 minutes to answer the 24 questions. You must bring the same form of ID that you used when booking the test. This must display both your name and postcode and must be dated within three months of the date your test is due to take place.
What are the British citizenship residency requirements?
To become a British citizen via the process of naturalisation, it is essential that you satisfy the residency requirement. A naturalisation application can only be submitted by persons who have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for at least one year.
The residency criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain/EEA Permanent Residence/EU Settled Status vary depending on the type of visa a person holds. Under most circumstances, a holder of a valid UK visa needs to have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for 5 years. For holders of certain visas such as Tier 1 Investor Visas, the qualifying period is just three years. If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain via the Long Residence route, the qualifying period is 10 years.
To fulfil the ‘continuous resident’ criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you must not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in any 12 months during the qualifying period. The same rules for absence apply when moving from ILR to British citizenship. Your reasons for absence are relevant here. If you leave the UK for business rather than leisure reasons, the time will not be factored into your period of absence. The same applies for situations where a person leaves the country due to exceptional circumstances.
To be classed as a ‘lawful’ resident, you must not have committed any offences and must have adhered to and respected the rights and laws of the UK.
What is the good character requirement?
In order to successfully apply for British citizenship, you must demonstrate the ‘Good Character’ requirement. ‘Good character’ refers to whether or not a person will be a positive and upstanding member of society and will always respect the rights and laws of the UK.
In order to determine whether or not you meet the requirement, your criminal history will be looked at. Iit is essential that you must not hold a severe or recent criminal record.
The Home Office will also look at offences committed overseas, and any violations related to immigration in order to determine whether you meet the requirement. Positive contributions to society will also be looked at.
How long does the British citizenship application process take?
Once you have submitted your British citizenship application, you ought to receive a decision within six months. However, this is the upper-most limit- under most circumstances, a decision will be received within three months.
Citizenship applications have a longer processing time than a lot of other immigration applications. This reflects the significance of becoming a British citizen.
Once citizenship has been granted, a person is free from all immigration restrictions and has the same rights as those who automatically acquire citizenship at birth. As a result, the UKVI considers each application citizenship carefully.
What are the requirements for Naturalisation?
The British Nationality Act states that the following British citizen requirements are a mandatory part of any Naturalisation application:
- You must be aged 18 or over;
- You must have lived in the UK for five years (or three if married to a British citizen);
- You must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least one year;
- You must not have spent more than 450 years outside of the UK during the five-year qualifying period, or more than 90 days during the last 12-month period;
- You must demonstrate the ‘Good Character’ requirement;
- You must pass the Life in the UK Test and English language exam (if applicable);
- You must intend to live permanently in the UK.
How do I register for citizenship?
The registration process is only open to persons who have a claim to British citizenship due to being born in the UK and/or having at least one parent who is a British citizen/settled person. As a result, the Life in the UK Test and English language test do not need to be sat when applying for citizenship through this route.
To complete the process of registration, you must:
- Demonstrate that you have a claim to British citizenship by birth- there are a number of ways a person can do this, all of which relate to being born in the UK or born to at least one British parent;
- Complete and submit the relevant registration application form- the exact form you have to submit depends on your personal circumstances;
- Demonstrate the ‘Good Character’ requirement- children under the age of 10 are exempt from this requirement.
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Once you have satisfied the British nationality requirements, had your application approved and received your certificate, you will be able to apply for a British passport.
The process should take a maximum of six weeks. The UKVI may invite you to a separate interview for this.
Applying for British citizenship constitutes the final and arguably most important step in the journey towards becoming a British national. Understanding and satisfying the British nationality requirements is absolutely crucial- if you opt for our services, we will:
- Identify the best route to citizenship based on your circumstances;
- Ensure that all of your supporting documents are in place;
- Complete your application form to the highest possible standard;
- Prepare a Letter of Representation in support of your application;
- Liaise with the Home Office until a decision is reached.
If you acquire British citizenship through the process of naturalisation, you will be required to attend a British citizenship ceremony. The citizenship ceremony is designed to welcome persons who gain British citizenship into the British community.
Persons who acquire British citizenship through the process of registration are only required to attend a ceremony if they are over the age of 18.