Naturalisation in the UK

There are different ways to become a British citizen. You may apply for citizenship through either naturalisation or registration in the UK.

General criteria for naturalisation:

  • You must have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • You must have resided in the UK for five years

Naturalisation and registration for British citizenship

It is possible to become a British citizen by naturalisation or registration. Generally, naturalisation as a British citizen will occur after attaining ILR and then residing for a qualifying period of time in the UK.

To qualify for naturalisation when married to a British Citizen, you are required to:

  • Have been in the UK for five years on any legal visa status and have ILR on the date of application
  • Have been present in the UK on the date three years prior to the application being received by the Nationality Directorate
  • Not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days in those three years
  • Not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the immediate 12 months before application
  • Be of good character
  • Pass the British citizenship test/Life in the UK Test
  • Have sufficient knowledge of English
  • Have an intention to live in the UK
  • Be over 18 years old

As a married partner, you can apply for naturalisation immediately after receiving ILR.

To qualify for naturalisation if you are not married to a British Citizen, you must:

  • Have been in the UK for the last five years and hold ILR for at least the last 12 months
  • Have been present in the UK on the date five years prior to the application being received by the Nationality Directorate
  • Not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days in that period
  • Not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 months before your ILR application
  • Be of good character
  • Pass the British citizenship test/Life in the UK Test
  • Have sufficient knowledge of English
  • Have an intention to live in the UK
  • Be over 18 years old

Speak to one of our consultants about how we can help you to naturalise.

Conditions for naturalisation in the UK

Once your naturalisation application is approved, you will be invited to attend a British citizenship ceremony. This ceremony will take place in your local council area in the UK only. Once you have done this, you will be eligible to submit an application for a British passport.

Registration requirements

British citizenship can also be obtained by registration. For example, If you were born between 7 February 1961 and 1 January 1983 and your mother was born in the UK, you will qualify for registration as a British citizen straight away.

If you were born prior to 7 February 1961, you will only be eligible to hold right of abode. Once you have resided in the UK for five continuous years on the right of abode status, you will be eligible to naturalise under the five-year rule.

UK Status Trace

If you were born in a country that is different to that of a parent or grandparent, or you have a UK-born ancestor, then it is possible that you have a claim to British nationality.

The problem for most of our clients is how to find the information to determine whether they have this claim. We offer a service that will enable you to find out if you (or your family) are eligible. We are specialists in British nationality claims and offer a Status Trace service to those who are struggling to find out whether they have a claim to British nationality.

The process involves an examination of your nationality documents (birth and marriage certificates, as well as old passports and other documents that may have a bearing on your nationality status) and takes the form of a multi-page report written by our team of nationality experts.

If there is any doubt as to whether you or your family could qualify for British nationality, we will give you a definitive answer.

Indefinite leave to remain in the UK

UK permanent residency, or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), allows you to remain in the UK for an indefinite period. The main condition of this status is that you can prove you intend to remain present and settled in the UK.

Live and work in the UK for an indefinite period

ILR is a form of UK permanent residency and allows you to work in the UK while also allowing you to exit and re-enter the country with no restrictions.

You may apply for indefinite leave to remain under any of the following circumstances:

  • After five continuous years on a spousal visa
  • Shortly prior to the expiry of a five-year Ancestry visa
  • After having held work permit status in the UK for five years
  • After legally staying 10 continuous years in the UK
  • After staying five continuous years in the UK as an investor
  • After spending five continuous years as a dependant (married partner, unmarried partner, child under 18 or under 18 when first applied) under the points-based system
  • After spending five continuous years in the UK as a writer, composer or artist
  • After spending five continuous years in the UK as a retired person of independent means

The criteria for applying for ILR in the UK are:

  • You must pass the “Life in the UK Test”
  • You must pass an English language test

Applying for British citizenship

After spending 12 months on indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen and gain UK citizenship.

Losing your ILR status

If you leave the country for a period of two continuous years or more, it is usually determined that you are no longer present and settled and your indefinite leave to remain status can be revoked.

UK long residency concession

however, several caveats to this, so read through the information below and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the long residency concession.

Long residency concession requirements

The 20-year period excludes any period spent in the UK following service of notice of liability to removal or notice of a decision to remove.

There is no requirement to have held a valid UK visa. In other words, time spent in the UK may include illegal residency

Once you have received this concession, you can obtain a two-and-a-half-year residency visa, which you can renew three times (i.e. hold for a total of 10 years). At the end of the 10 years, you can then apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Someone who is aged over 18 but under 25 and has lived in the UK continuously for half their life can also apply under this route. As above, they will be given four sets of leave to remain for two and a half years. Once they have had leave to remain for 10 years they can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

These cases can be quite sensitive. Our experienced team will handle your application with the highest degree of professionalism and discretion.

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Discretionary leave to remain in the UK

A person who resides in the UK but is not entitled to a visa may apply for Discretionary Leave to remain. Such leave is temporary and usually claimed on the basis of protection of human rights.

Let us help you remain in the UK

Recently, the scope of this status has been expanded and is now available under a variety of similar circumstances.

Every case is unique and finding a resolution requires an in-depth look at your unique set of circumstances. An application will rely on evidence that the applicant’s deportation from the UK will infringe on their human rights.

The most common situations are:

  • A child who was born in the UK
  • A child who has been resident in the UK for at least seven years
  • An adult who is married to a British citizen or a person who has UK permanent residency status in the UK*
  • An adult who has established a family life in the UK

*Such as the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain

When can you apply for indefinite leave to remain?

If granted discretionary leave after 9 July 2012, you will be required to wait until you have held discretionary leave to remain for 10 continuous years prior to applying for indefinite leave to remain.

Our experienced team specialise in these kinds of complex cases. If you have discretionary leave to remain, or need to apply for it, please do not hesitate to contact us. All communications are strictly confidential.

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