British Citizenship and Naturalisation Legal Advice

Eligibility Requirements

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In order to be granted British Citizenship through naturalisation the following criteria must be satisfied:

1. English Language

The British Government will only grant citizenship to individuals that are able to communicate with the wider community and are equipped to play a part in the wider community. Being able to speak English is a very important part of this. The below sets out how you can satisfy this requirement:

  1. being a national of a majority English speaking country; or
  2. passing an approved English language test to level B1 or above
    • you will need to achieve an English level B1, B2, C1 or C2 level qualification in order to satisfy the requirement
    • a list containing the approved tests and contact details for the test centres can be found in the attached Appendix 1; or
  3. holding a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

2. Life in the UK Test

The British Government see becoming a British Citizen as an important commitment and require applicants to accept the responsibilities which go with citizenship and to respect the laws, values and traditions of the UK. The way that they require applicants to demonstrate this, is by successfully passing the Life in the UK Test.

Once you feel confident that you have sufficient knowledge of Life in the UK, you may apply to take a test at a Life in the UK Test Centre.

Once you are registered at a Test Centre you can take the Life in the UK Test. The fee is payable directly to the Test Centre.

The test will be taken on a computer. You will be given an opportunity to practice using the equipment and have an option to complete a short trial test before beginning the Life in the UK Test. The test will last for up to 45 minutes and comprise 24 questions based on the handbook Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship.

Support will be available at test centres for people with limited reading and writing ability or who lack basic IT skills.

If you pass the test you will be given a letter that verifies your success. This should be attached to your application for naturalisation. The test results will also be sent to the Home Office electronically.

If you are not successful you may book and take a further test. There is no limit on the number of times you may take the test, you must pay an additional fee each time you take it. Since the questions set are drawn randomly from a large bank of questions any further test will be different from the earlier one that you took.

3. Presence in the UK at the start of the qualifying period

An applicant for naturalisation must have been physically present in the UK at the start of the qualifying period.

The start of the qualifying period is the day after the corresponding application date, eg if the application date is 5 January, the qualifying period starts on 6 January, 5 years earlier.

The date of the application is the date it is received by the appropriate receiving authority. It is therefore advisable to submit the application using a trackable method with a guaranteed delivery date (such as special delivery), and to check that the applicant was physically in the UK at the beginning of the qualifying period, based on the date of delivery.

4. Residence Requirement

Before you can apply for citizenship you will need to demonstrate that you have been lawfully resident in the UK for the last 5 years and that you have been free from immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the 5 year qualifying period.

To satisfy the residence requirement you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months.

You should not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days in the 5 year qualifying period.

There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits if there are compelling reasons. If you have absences in excess of 450 days please advise us.

5. Suitability

The British Government will not allow a citizenship application to succeed if they do not deem the applicant to be of “good character”.

If you have any criminal convictions, adverse immigration history or any other issues that you feel may affect your application please advise us immediately.

6. Referees

The application must be endorsed by two referees.

One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing. The second referee should be the holder of a British citizen passport and:

  • a person of professional standing, or
  • a person over the age of 25

All referees must also:

  • not be related to the applicant or each other
  • not be representing the applicant in a legal capacity
  • not be employed by the Home Office
  • not have been convicted of an imprisonable offence within the last 10 years—
  • have known the applicant personally for at least 3 years
  • be willing to give details of their knowledge of the applicant
  • confirm that the photograph attached to the application is a true likeness of the applicant
  • agree to advise the Home Office of any reason why the applicant should not be naturalised

It is important to ensure that the declarations made by the referees are less than 6 months old as at the date the application will be received. If this is not the case, the form will be returned to the applicant to be re-declared. This will delay processing.

Application Process

We will complete the relevant application form (Form AN) on your behalf and send it to the relevant Home Office department.

You’ll get a letter confirming your application. It can take up to 4 weeks for you to get the confirmation.

A decision about your application will usually be made within 6 months although some applications can take longer.

Citizenship Ceremony

You’ll be invited to book a place at a citizenship ceremony if your application is successful.

You’re usually allowed to take 2 guests with you and you must take your invitation with you when you go to your ceremony.

There is a ceremony fee of £80.

You’ll have to make an oath of allegiance (or you can make an affirmation if you prefer not to swear by God) and a pledge. This means you’ll promise to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK.

You’ll be presented with your certificate of British citizenship and a welcome pack.


The Government fees for a naturalisation application is currently £1,330.

Our fees for drafting an application for naturalisation would usually be £1,500 – £2,00 plus VAT. Our fees for reviewing the application if you complete it yourself will be £500 – £750 plus VAT.

Contact us today on immigrationteam@ibblaw.co.uk or 03456 381381 to see how we can help you with your immigration matter.



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