Becoming a British citizen is a process called naturalisation. In the UK you can also hold dual citizenship, meaning you can also retain your birth nationality.
To apply for British citizenship, you must first have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for a year. Therefore you will need to be resident for 10 years to apply for ILR, and then a further year before you can apply for British citizenship. But there are different ways you can apply depending on your personal circumstances.
Applying to settle in the UK
Applying to settle, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, in the UK after 10 years is also called “long residence”. Having ILR status means you can live in the UK without any immigration or travel restrictions.
You must have been living continuously and lawfully in the UK for that time on various immigration categories. Most likely you will have received “leave to remain” under a Skilled Worker Visa, Global Talent visa or other combinations of visa routes.
There are stringent eligibility requirements. To apply, for ILR you must have:
- Passed a Life in the UK test
- Passed an English Language test
- Proof you have not spent more than 180 consecutive days outside the UK in any given year in your 10 year period, or 540 days in total
- Kept to the terms of your visas and not broken any immigration laws
- No public interest reasons why the Home Office shouldn’t grant you leave
Absences and time spent outside the UK
In some instances, the Home Office can use discretion if you have absences totaling more than 540 days when you apply for settlement after ten years. It can depend on whether the longer absences were towards the beginning or end of the residency period. If they were towards the end, the Home Office will be more likely to refuse your application.
If however the absence was towards the start of the period, the person may be able to still meet the requirements in the very near future, and so would be encouraged to apply then.
The Home Office will be looking for “compelling or compassionate” reasons why the absence was longer than 540 days, and providing as much proof as possible is highly recommended. Furthermore, they will also consider whether you returned to the UK as soon as you were reasonably able to do so.
Documents you will require
The exact documents you may require to make your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain highly depend on personal circumstances. It is therefore highly recommended that you seek legal advice from one of our qualified immigration lawyers that can provide tailored professional advice to suit your exact needs.
However, a general list is as follows:
- Your current (valid) passport or other type of ID if you do not have one
- Biometric residence permit
- Two passport photos
- A Life in the UK pass (reference)
- Proof of your English Language to an A1 level
- Documents to prove your continuous residence and to explain any gaps you may have
Other documents you may find really helpful to include when proving your continuous residence are:
- Mortgage or tenancy documents
- Bank statements
- Evidence of your education and employment
- Supporting letter
- Utility bills
When to apply
You should apply for your settlement at least 28 days before the end of your ten years of residency. This period starts from the visa date you entered the UK.
The current fee for the application to the Home Office costs £2389. You will also need to pay to have any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh to be translated, and for your Life in the UK and English Language test, if you require one.
Applying for British citizenship
Once you have received Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may then apply for citizenship after 12 months. This also applies if you have received EU Settled Status by applying for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Having ILR and British citizenship are relatively similar. ILR will never expire, and you can live, work and study across the UK with no restrictions. However, if you leave the country for longer than two years, your settlement will expire. With British citizenship, you are afforded the full rights of residency, with no limit on time spent out of the country and the ability to vote in elections. You will also be able to apply for a British passport.
British citizenship eligibility requirements
In order to apply for British citizenship via the process of naturalisation, there are a number of eligibility requirements that must first be satisfied. These are:
- You must be over the age of 18;
- You must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for at least 12 months;
- You must have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK throughout the five-year qualifying period, with no more than 450 days of absence during this time;
- You must not have breached any of the UK immigration rules;
- Providing you are not exempt, you must have passed the B1 CEFR English language requirements;
- You must have passed the Life in the UK Test. This is used to demonstrate a person’s knowledge of the culture, customs and history of the UK, and is an essential part of becoming naturalised as a British citizen.
To submit your application, you will need to apply online by filling in form AN. You must be able to submit document proof at the time of your application, including your Life in the UK test, referees and proof of your English Language test pass. You’ll also need your proof of ILR or settled status.
You’ll also need to make an appointment at a visa centre to provide photographs and biometric information to confirm your identity. It will cost you £1330 to make the application and £19.20 for your biometric information. Your application will usually take around six months to process. If you are successful, you’ll be asked to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will receive your British citizenship certificate.
How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help you
Our professional and diligent team of immigration lawyers can be right by your side through the entire application process, providing an advice session or completing the entire application for you as well as a statement to support your application. Our team can also help you with a document checking service, to ensure all of the evidence you provide is as accurate as possible. All of these factors can make your application process smoother with a much greater chance of a positive outcome.
Contact our client care team to make an appointment today on 0161 532 7993.