Applying for British Citizenship & Naturalisation
Securing British citizenship will give you the right to live and work permanently in the UK. There are various different routes to British citizenship, and whether you are eligible to apply will depend on the circumstances. Getting expert help with applying for British citizenship can significantly increase your chances of success.
IBB Law’s expert British citizenship and naturalisation solicitors regularly help people to become British citizens. We have exceptional knowledge and understanding of the application process, including all of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them. Our team have an excellent track record for helping our clients to get British citizenship quickly and smoothly.
You must pick the right route to British citizenship, make sure you meet all of the requirements and follow the correct process. We can guide and support you every step of the way, making the process less stressful and giving you the best chance of a successful application.
Our clients come from a wide range of countries, backgrounds and circumstances. You will receive tailored advice and a first-class personal service at every stage of your application.
Meet the team
Complete support for British citizenship applications
We can support you with every part of applying for British citizenship, including the following:
- Clear advice on UK citizenship requirements
- Checking your eligibility for British citizenship
- Preparing your British citizenship application
- Putting together the right documents in support of your British citizenship application
- UK citizenship for EU nationals
- Dealing with British citizenship rejections and refusals
Why choose IBB Law for help to apply for British citizenship?
At IBB Law, our expert UK immigration solicitors offer:
- In-depth knowledge of UK Immigration laws, policies and procedures.
- Hands on support from experts who keep up-to-date with developments in the law so that you always receive practical and accurate advice.
- A cost-effective and timely service with great attention to detail.
- Independently accredited immigration expertise with our team being ranked by leading client guide, the Legal 500 for Immigration Law.
Looking for immediate help with a British citizenship application?
If you need assistance in applying for British citizenship, our expert visas and immigration team will be happy to give you help and advice.
How to apply for British citizenship
Set out below is key information in respect of applying for British citizenship in the following areas:
- Can I apply for British citizenship?
- What does it mean to “apply for British naturalisation”?
- British citizenship and naturalisation eligibility requirements
- British citizenship application process
- How long does it take to get British citizenship?
- UK citizenship for EU nationals
- Benefits of British citizenships
- British citizenship application fees
Whether you are eligible to apply for British citizenship will depend on the circumstances.
If you have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, then you can usually apply for British citizenship once you have held this for at least 12 months.
If you have lived in the UK for 5 years under a valid visa or series of visas, then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Once you have ILR, you can usually apply for British citizenship after living in the UK for another 12 months.
If your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen, you can apply if you have lived in the UK for at least the last 3 years and you have either indefinite leave to remain or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
You may also be able to apply if you have a British parent, hold a different type of British nationality (e.g. you are a British overseas citizen), you qualify for the Windrush scheme, or you have previously renounced your British citizenship and wish to have it restored.
Our expert British citizenship and naturalisation lawyers will be happy to advise you on whether you are eligible to apply.
Naturalisation is the process of becoming a British citizen. While people sometimes talk about “applying for British naturalisation” what you are really applying for is ‘British citizenship by naturalisation’.
In order to be granted British Citizenship through naturalisation, the following criteria must be satisfied:
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:
- being a national of a majority English speaking country; or
- 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
- holding a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.
Life in the UK Test
The British Government see becoming a British Citizen as an important commitment and requires 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.
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 for naturalisation, e.g. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 application process normally takes up to 6 months but can take longer. You will need to have a citizenship ceremony at your local registry and are required to book this yourself. When you can be fitted in will also impact how long it takes before you are officially a British citizen.
How long it takes to be eligible to apply will depend on the grounds you rely on. You can read more about this in the section ‘Can I apply for British citizenship?’.
If you have settled status under the EU settlement scheme, then you can normally apply to become a British citizen a minimum of 12 months after your settled status was confirmed.
If you were not eligible for settled status under the EU settlement scheme, then you will need to apply for British citizenship under one of the other available routes, e.g. via your spouse being a British citizen or by first securing indefinite leave to remain. You can read more about this in the section ‘Can I apply for British citizenship?’.
The key benefits of British citizenship are that you can:
- Live in the UK for the rest of your life
- Work in the UK with no restrictions
- Hold a British passport
- Enter and leave the UK without restriction
- Access free health care on the NHS
- Vote in elections
- Stand for public office
The Government fees for British citizenship by naturalisation application is currently £1,330.
Get immediate expert advice on applying for British citizenship
If you need expert advice and support with a British citizenship application, our highly experienced immigration team will be happy to assist.