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NATURALIZATION (BRITISH CITIZENSHIP)

British citizenship can be acquired by :

  • Registration
  • Naturalization 

Naturalization 

Naturalization is a complex procedure that can often involve detailed legal arguments. If you think you want to apply for UK naturalization then you should seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity. It is best to get it right from the start to avoid complications and unnecessary delays. To qualify for UK Naturalization you must have already been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK. The Home Office require that you are aged 18 or over and of good character, you are able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic, and you intend to live in the UK. If you are not married to a British citizen then you must have been in the UK for 5 years. The period is counted from the date when the application reaches the Home Office. At the moment applications are taking at least six months before a decision is made.  

Registration

Registration mainly refers to children born overseas from British parents or children born in the UK when initially those parents were not British citizens.

Naturalization requirements 

There are 3 main ways to be naturalized in the UK :

  • Naturalization on the basis of marriage to a UK citizen - after 5 years
  • Naturalization on the basis of a marriage to someone settled with Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR endorsement in their passport) – after 5 years
  • Naturalization on the basis of work, business or investment in the UK – after 6 years
  • Naturalization based on a Right of Abode – after 6 years

The requirements for naturalization as a spouse of a British citizen or someone settled in the UK are as follows :

  • You are legally married to each other
  • Your marriage is subsisting
  • You must have been living in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the five-year period
  • On the date that your application is received in the Home Office, you must have permanent residence (ILR) in the UK
  • During the five-year period you must not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days 
  • During the last 12 months of the five-year period you must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days
  • You must not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules at any time during this three-year period of residence in the UK

The three years of the residency requirement is counted from the date your naturalization application is received by the Home Office.

The following are additional requirements in order for you to be granted British Citizenship :

  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You must be of good character
  • You must be of sound mind
  • You should be able to communicate in the English language (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). There are exemptions to this requirement, for example if you are elderly or mentally handicapped or are over 65
  • You should intend to live in the UK or in Crown Service abroad (working directly for an UK Government organization), or be employed by an international organization of which the UK is a member, or be employed by a company or association established in the United Kingdom (and not intend to use a British passport as means of exercising a Right of Free Movement and employment in EU)
  • You must pass a test which confirm your knowledge of the above mentioned languages and knowledge of life in the UK

Naturalization for workers, businessmen, investors

If you are not married to a British Citizen you will need to meet the following requirements to apply for naturalization on the basis of your work, business or investment in the UK :

  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You must be of sound mind
  • You must be of good character
  • You should be able to communicate in the English language (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). There are exemptions to this requirement, for example if you are elderly or mentally handicapped
  • You must pass a test confirming your knowledge of the above mentioned languages and knowledge of life in the UK
  • You should intend to live in the UK or in Crown Service abroad (working directly for an UK Government organization), or be employed by an international organization of which the UK is a member, or be employed by a company or association established in the United Kingdom (and not just use a British passport as means visa-free travel overseas or employment in EU)

The following are additional requirements that must be met in order for you to qualify for naturalization on the basis of 6 year residence :

  • You must have been living in the UK exactly five years before the date the application reaches the Home Office
  • During the six-year period you must not have been outside the United Kingdom for more than 450 days (about 15 months)
  • During the last 12 months of the six-year period you must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days
  • During the last 12 months of the six-year period your stay in the United Kingdom you must have held permanent residence/ indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • You must not have been living in the United Kingdom in breach of the UK immigration rules at any time during the five-year period ending with the date that the application is received by the Home Office.

The processing time for naturalization applications depends on a particular type of an application and can be from 3.5 months for registration of minors as British citizens and up to 18 months for recognized refugees. Those who apply for naturalization on the basis of marriage or work, business or investment in the UK, including those with HSMP/Tier 1 visas, can expect their application processed in approximately 3 months, although in some cases the Home Office may consider applications faster. We have seen naturalization applications granted in just 3 weeks in some cases. 

Those, who are granted British citizenship are required to attend a special ceremony, similar to the one in the United States.

Naturalization for EEA and Swiss citizens

Important Points

EEA and Swiss nationals may not separately apply for Permanent Residence  in the UK under the Community Law.

An EEA or Swiss citizen can also become British if he or she can prove that he or she has been economically active for a period of 6 years.

Depending on your economic activity in the UK as defined by the Community Law, the following groups of EEA and Swiss citizens can apply to become British citizens, subject to meeting the Rules:
  • Workers
  • Self-employed/business persons
  • Students
  •  Self-sufficient persons
  • Retired
  • Incapacitated

The above options are not exhaustive as we treat every client's case individually. Please do not hesitate to book a phone, Skype or office consultation with us for a professional immigration advice and possible further representation before the UK Border Agency or the First Tier or Upper Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTT/UTT IAC). 

You can contact this office to book your initial phone or Skype consultation by phone +44(0)1938 590 943 or by Skype:  immigration_lawyer


Authorised to provide immigration advice and services by the Immigration Services Commissioner.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

Member of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association.

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