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Category: Immigration

Published: 16 July 2020

British Citizenship


British Citizenship is the final stage of the UK immigration process for foreign nationals after securing permanent residence.

Naturalisation is the most common legal process of becoming a British citizen for adults who were not born British through a period of qualifying residency in the UK. Your particular circumstances will determine how you qualify.

The requirements for British citizenship by Naturalisation vary slightly depending on whether you are married to a British citizen or not.

If you are not married to a British citizen (or do not wish to rely on your marriage to a British citizen) the Home Office must be satisfied that you:

  • are over 18,
  • were in the UK exactly 5 years before the day the Home Office receives your application,
  • have sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic;
  • completed a Life in the UK test,
  • intend to continue living in the UK,
  • are of good character: for example, you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record, and you haven’t tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the last 10 years,
  • have supplied 2 suitable references,
  • have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five year period,
  • have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that five year period,
  • have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 months period immediately preceding the date of your application and
  • have held ILR or PR for 12 months immediately preceding the date of your application.

Spouses and civil partners of a British citizen must satisfy slightly different eligibility requirements:

  • There is no requirement for individuals to have held ILR or PR for 12 months;
  • They must demonstrate residence in the UK for a period of 3 years; and
  • Absences should not exceed 270 in the last 3 years, and 90 in the last 12 months.

An application for naturalisation as a British Citizen on 5 years residence basis is made under Section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981.

You are required to have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of your application and have been physically present in the UK at the beginning of the said relevant period. Furthermore, you must have had settlement (ILR) or permanent residence or settled status (for EEA) in the UK for the last 12 months from the time of your application.  

An applicant for naturalisation as a British Citizen must also satisfy the good character requirement which requires them have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observe its laws and fulfilled their duties and obligations as a resident of the UK. Consideration will be given to all aspects of a person’s character, including both negative factors, for example, criminality, immigration law breaches and deception, and positive factors, for example, contributions a person has made to society.  

Applicants are expected to make Britain their home if they are granted citizenship; the Home Office will broadly take them at their own word. If applicants say their intention is to have their principal home in the UK, the Home Office should accept that they meet the requirement if they meet the residence requirements, without the need to exercise any discretion over excess absences other than up to 30 days.

There are special provisions in place for those whose way of life or profession (e.g. international celebrities, actors, musicians) might mean that they are unable to maintain a principal home in a conventional sense.

Your application must be endorsed by 2 referees to establish your identity. Both of them must have known you personally for at least three years. One of the referees must be a person of any nationality with a professional standing e.g. accountant, police officer, chemist etc. The other referee person should be a British citizen passport holder and either a professional person or over the age of 25.  

As part of your application for British citizenship or settlement in the UK, you have to take the Life in the UK test and will also have to prove your knowledge of the English language by having either an English Certificate at B1 CEFR level or a degree taught or researched in English.

Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, all applicants over the age of 18 who are accepted as naturalised citizens in the UK are required to take part in a Citizenship ceremony. The aim is to make each new citizen fully welcomed into the British community.

Contact our Immigration Solicitors

If you require assistance with your visa application, get in touch with our team of immigration solicitors for advice today. Call us on 0141 375 9090 or complete our online contact form.


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