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British Citizenship Application: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 4 April 2022

Great Britain is a flourishing and developed nation and there are many reasons why you would want to be a legal citizen of this nation. You might want it for your kids born outside the UK, to have the right to stay outside the UK without losing the ‘right to return,’ or simply for a better quality of life. Regardless of your reasons, here are the crucial factors you need to know about getting British citizenship. 

What You Will Find in This Article

What Is British Citizenship? 

British citizenship gives you the right to work and live in the United Kingdom permanently, without any restrictions regarding immigration. Citizenship gives you all rights and obligations as a British national. This includes the opportunity to vote in parliamentary and local elections. You can also get a British passport which grants you visa-free access to over 180 countries. 

The highlight of having citizenship is that you’ll not face the risk of losing your residency status or rights if you leave the UK for a long time.

British citizenship can be obtained through different routes, such as birth, marriage, or long-term residence.

How To Get British Citizenship

There are various routes to apply for British citizenship. If you’re in one of the below categories and meet the other requirements, such as residency period, you can be eligible for citizenship:

  • You were born in the UK
  • You’re married to a British citizen
  • You’re in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • You have indefinite leave to remain UK (ILR) or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

Other ways to get citizenship can include having a British parent, having another type of British nationality, being stateless, or having renounced your citizenship in the past.


Requirements To Become a UK Citizen by Naturalization 

If you were not born in the UK and want to apply for citizenship through naturalization, here are the requirements:

  • You’re over 18 
  • You’ve ILR in the UK for a minimum of 12 months 
  • You can prove that you’ve spent at least five years* of continuous residence in the UK, and your period of absence is no longer than 450 days outside the country
  • You’ve not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the year before you apply
  • You meet B1 CEFR level requirements for the English language (unless exempted) 
  • You’ve passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test to show that you have a basic idea about British culture, traditions, and customs 
  • You’ve not breached any immigration rules of the UK 
  • You can prove that you meet the ‘Good Character’ criteria and have no criminal records
  • You’re able to give the names of two people who confirm the information you’ve put on the form – these people are called ‘referees’  

*The continuous residency requirement is three years for spouses/civil partners of British citizens.

Required Documents 

  • A document that shows your identity and permanent residence status (i.e. passport copy, birth certificate)
  • Proof of your ILR or EU Settled Status (i.e. your biometric residence permit or residence card)
  • Documents and visas related to your status before you settled in the UK
  • Results of English knowledge and Life in the UK tests
  • Proof of your lawful residential presence in the UK during your qualifying period
  • Travel details of your period of absences
  • Proof proving you are not subject to UK immigration time limits and have the right to remain in the UK
  • Proof that you have a good character and have never broken any immigration laws in the United Kingdom.
  • Proof that you have used your treaty rights in the last three or five years (letters from your employer, bank statements, or letters from your educational institution depending on your immigration status)

How to Become British Citizen Through Naturalization

The process of becoming a British citizen is a very straightforward one as long as you’ve met the stay requirements and your documents are fully completed. Here are the main steps of British citizenship application through naturalization:

Step 1: Check if you meet all of the requirements and see if you’re eligible.

Step 2: Collect all the necessary documents and make sure two individuals agree to be your “referees”.

Step 3: Complete the application form online. 

Step 4: Submit the form along with your supporting documents and pay the relevant fee.

Step 5: Book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center to provide your biometric details.

Step 6: If your application is approved, you’ll receive a “Citizenship Invitation Letter. After you receive this letter, arrange a citizenship ceremony at your local registry.

Step 7: Attend your naturalization ceremony, where you will be required to take an oath/affirmation of allegiance and get your naturalization certificate.

How Long Does a British Citizenship Application Take?

The application process can take up to six months, however, most applications are decided much sooner. You will receive approval and a citizenship invitation letter when your application has been approved. Only after you’ve attended your naturalization ceremony and obtained your certificate of naturalization you’ll become a British citizen. Once you’ve completed the naturalization process, you’ll be able to apply for your first British passport.

Details of the British Citizenship Ceremony 

As per the British Nationality Act, every applicant over 18 years who has been accepted as a naturalized British citizen is required to attend the UK Citizenship ceremony. The aim of the ceremony is to make all the new UK citizens feel welcomed into the community. 

These ceremonies have to be booked within three months of the date of receiving the invitation from the UK Home Office. Though you are allowed to bring two guests to the service, the functions aren’t open to the general public. Usually, these are attended by the Deputy Mayor or Mayor of the council. 


If you’re outside the UK, you can talk to the consulate or embassy of that country to arrange the ceremony there or ask if a virtual ceremony is available. If not, you can postpone the ceremony if you plan to come back to the UK within three months of receiving the invitation.


Tracking Your British Citizenship Application

There is no facility to track the status of the application online. However, you can contact the UKVI through email or call to know about the status of the request at a certain point in time. 

If you have any more queries regarding British citizenship, you can get in touch with the UKVI or talk to your agent handling the procedure. 

If there are any missing documents in your application, you’ll be contacted by the Home Office officers. Once your application has been approved, you will receive a letter of confirmation.

Passing the Accredited English Test 

In order to become a UK citizen, a recognized English test qualification at a minimum B1 level is required. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is the only credential accepted by the UKVI. So, qualifications like NVQs and GCSEs aren’t valid in this case. Certain test qualifications tend to last for only two years. So, make sure to take the exam in accordance with your citizenship application.

You will not need the English test in case you:

  • Are aged 65 years or more 
  • Have a long-term mental or physical condition 
  • Have a degree researched or taught in English

If you studied outside of the United Kingdom, you’ll need to provide an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS).

Life in the UK Test 

Life in the UK test is an exam that has 24 questions about the British customs, histories, and culture that all UK citizens need to know. The questions are mainly based on the details found in the Life in the UK Handbook offered by the Home Office. 

You should at least get 75 percent to pass the exam. In case you have stayed in the UK and received a pass certificate as a result of your ILR application requirement, you’ll not have to pass this requirement for British citizenship. 

This test can be booked online, and it has to be done a minimum of three days in advance. You are allowed to select any one of the five centers that are closest to where you stay.

How To Get British Citizenship by Birth

If you were born in the United Kingdom, you may be entitled to apply to register as a British citizen, but it depends on two conditions: Your date of birth and your parents’ circumstances.

If you were born on or after 1 January 1983, you may be eligible if either:

  • You’re under the age of 18 and one of your parents has been a British citizen or has been granted permanent residence in the UK since your birth 
  • You resided in the UK until you were at least 10 years old

If you were both of the following, you are usually immediately a British citizen:

  • You were born on or after 1 January 1983
  • When one of your parents was a British citizen or settled in the UK, you were born there

If you were born in the country before 1 January 1983, you are regarded as a British citizen, but exceptions may apply depending on your father’s status.


How To Become a UK Citizen by Descent 

British citizenship by descent applies to the ones born outside the country from a parent who is or was a British citizen. Simply stated, British nationality does not automatically pass on to any child born abroad. 

For the ones born after January 1, 1983, they might register for British citizenship by descent if they have a British-born grandfather in Crown service, or if their parents were born in any former UK colony. 

It’s important to speak to professionals before you start your application as British nationality law is complex.

How To Become a British Citizen Through Marriage

Marriage to a British citizen does not automatically grant you citizenship. The first step to being eligible for citizenship is getting indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Plus, you must have also resided in the UK for a minimum of three years prior to your application. 

UK Citizenship Cost

British citizenship application fees are as follows:

  • The fee for naturalization is £1,330
  • The fee for adult registration is £1,206
  • The fee for child registration is £1,012
  • The fee for biometric enrolment is £19.20

There is no fast-track or priority service available for naturalization.

Dual Nationality in the UK

The United Kingdom allows dual citizenship which means that you don’t have to give up on your former nationality when you apply for citizenship UK. However, you’d better check if your previous country doesn’t pose any restrictions on dual citizenship.

Conclusion

UK citizenship application is a simple process but it needs to be handled carefully to avoid any risk of rejection. Before you commit your time and effort, make sure you are working with legal advisors and professionals who will guide you through the process.

Frequently Asked Questions on UK Citizenship Application

I have ILR. Can I apply for citizenship UK?

How to get British citizenship after ILR is a common question. If you meet the other requirements, you can apply for citizenship after 12 months of getting your ILR.

How to become a UK citizen if my spouse is British?

If your spouse/partner is British, the first route is getting indefinite leave to remain after three years of continuous residency in the country. After this step, you can be eligible to apply for citizenship UK.

What is the British citizenship application fee?

British citizenship application fee is £1,330. You’ll also need to pay £19.20 for biometric enrolment.

How to become a British citizen by descent?

Citizenship by descent is granted to people who were born outside the United Kingdom to at least one British citizen parent. 

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