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How Do I Gain British Citizenship?

23 December 2020 Written by Support Category: Immigration Services

You may wish to apply for British citizenship if you have lived or worked in the country for some time, or if you plan to remain in the UK on a long-term or permanent basis. British citizenship and nationality law is complex as are the processes to gain citizenship.

Naturalisation or registration to become a British citizen In 2019, 160,000 foreign nationals became British citizens through the process known as “naturalisation”. This is the most common way that adults apply for citizenship. For children under the age of 18, citizenship is gained from “registration”. Registration is also a route for adults to gain citizenship in certain circumstances. It applies to people who hold different forms of British nationality or have connections to the UK. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is different from British citizenship. ILR allows you to live and work in the UK. It’s also referred to as “settlement”. Once you’ve obtained ILR status, you are no longer subject to UK immigration controls – you can enter and exit the country whenever you like. Once you’ve achieved ILR or “settled status”, you can then apply for British citizenship. Routes for British citizenship from birth UK nationality can be acquired in the following ways when a child is born:

  • By birth in the UK (Iex soli), when at least one parent is a British national or a settled person at the time of the birth;
  • A child born outside the UK to British parents will not be automatically classed as a British citizen. The child’s parents must apply before the child is 18 in order for the child to become a British citizen;
  • By adoption, if the adoption order is made before the child is 18 and ordered by a UK court.

The rights you acquire from becoming a British citizen When you become a British citizen, you will receive a British passport and have the right to vote in elections. You will also be able to leave the UK, for as long as you wish, without losing what is known as the “right to return”. For those born before 1st January 1983 The British Nationality Act (1981) came into force on 1 January 1983. The Act introduced British citizenship into UK law. Before this, children born in the UK would acquire citizenship jus soli (a rule of law that gives the right of anyone born in a state to acquire its nationality). This means that a person born in the UK before 1 January 1983 is a British citizen regardless of their parents’ immigration status or nationality. From 1 January 1983, a child born in the UK only acquires British citizenship if one of their parents is a British citizen or is considered to be settled in the UK as a result of being granted indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence/ settled status. Do you need to apply for citizenship? You don’t need to apply for citizenship if you automatically became a British citizen when you were born. You might automatically be a British citizen if either:

  • One of your parents was a British citizen when you were born;
  • You were born in the UK and one of your parents had ‘settled status’, ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or ‘permanent residence’ when you were born.

The requirements for British citizenship In order to qualify for British citizenship, you need to ensure you are eligible and complete the application process. The eligibility criteria are:

  • An acceptable knowledge of the English language to an intermediate level. This is assessed by completing a test;
  • Successful completion of the Life in the UK test. This is to consider if you will integrate into British life;
  • Being considered to be of “good character” (you will need two referees);
  • Meeting the residency requirements;
  • Having the intention of residing in the UK.

How can I apply for British citizenship? The most common ways to apply for British citizenship are:

  • If you were born in the UK;
  • You have a British parent;
  • You have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR);
  • You have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • You have ‘permanent residence’ status;
  • You’re married to or are in a civil partnership with, a British citizen.

    There are a few other less common exceptions to the above.

    The process and application forms for applying for citizenship

    British Citizenship Application Form is the primary documentation you will need to complete. Filling in the application and the time taken for a response will be speeded up if you have the necessary evidence required ready to begin:

      • Previous addresses for the past 5 years including the dates that you lived there from and to;
      • National Insurance Number;
      • Your passport details;
      • Your parent’s details including their date(s) and place of birth;
      • Referee details which include their full name, addresses for the past 3 years, DOB, job title, phone number, email address and passport number;
      • Your tax reference code (this can often be found on a recent payslip
      • Your work history (UK only) for the last 10 years. This should include start and end dates and addresses;
      • Previous application details – date applied, reference number, date your fingerprints were taken;
      • Details of time spent outside the UK for any period of more than two days. You will need to give details of the country, reason for entry, and entry and exit dates;
      • Identity card details (if you have one);
      • Degree information (if applicable);
      • English test information (if required);
      • Biometric details (fingerprints and photo).

      If you have a complicated application you should look to getting advice from our expert immigration solicitors to help the success of your application. 

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