Immigration – British Citizenship (Naturalisation)

What is Naturalisation?

Naturalisation is the legal process by which a person can apply for British citizenship.

Naturalisation is not an entitlement and a decision can only be made to grant you British citizenship if you can demonstrate that you satisfy certain legal requirements and the Home Secretary thinks it fit to naturalise you.

What criteria must you meet to be eligible for Naturalisation as a British Citizen?

The requirements for naturalisation as a British citizen differ depending on whether or not you are applying on the basis of marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen.

You’ll usually be able to apply for British citizenship if you’re over 18 and have had one of the following for at least 12 months:

  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK
  • ‘Settled Status’ (also known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the EU Settlement Scheme’)
  • Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (permission to move to the UK permanently from abroad)

You will not need to wait 12 months to apply after obtaining one of the above if you’re married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

What criteria must I meet if I am not married to or the civil partner of a British Citizen?

The legal requirements you should meet before you apply are that you:

  • Are aged 18 or over when you apply
  • Are of sound mind, so that you understand the step you are taking
  • Intend to continue to live in the UK
  • Can communicate in English to an acceptable degree
  • Have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK and have passed the ‘Life in the UK Test’ (you have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs and must score at least 75%)
  • Are of good character
  • Have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years before you apply and meet the following residence requirements:

Residence Requirements:

  • You must be free of immigration time restrictions on the date of application, and have been free of immigration time restrictions for the 12-month period before making the application
  • You must not have had more than 450 days outside of the UK in the 5-year period before making the application
  • You must not have had more than 90 days outside of the UK in the 12-month period before making the application
  • You must have been physically present in the UK on the day 5 years before the application is received by the Home Office. For example, if your application is received on 05/08/2020 you should have been physically present in the UK on 05/08/2015

What criteria must I meet if I am married to or the civil partner of a British Citizen?

The legal requirements you should meet before you apply are that you:

  • Are aged 18 or over when you apply
  • Are of sound mind, so that you understand the step you are taking
  • Intend to continue to live in the UK
  • Are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen on the date of application
  • Can communicate in English to an acceptable degree
  • Have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK and have passed the ‘Life in the UK Test’ (you have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs and must score at least 75%)
  • Are of good character
  • Have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years before you apply and meet the following residence requirements:

Residence Requirements:

  • You must be free of immigration time restrictions on the date of application
  • You must not have had more than 270 days outside of the UK in the 3-year period before making the application
  • You must not have had more than 90 days outside of the UK in the 12-month period before making the application
  • You must have been physically present in the UK on the day 3 years before the application is received by the Home Office. For example, if your application is received on 05/08/2020 you should have been physically present in the UK on 05/08/2017

What happens if I have excessive absences from the UK?

There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits if there are special circumstances.

Excessive absences may be disregarded attributable to either of the following reasons:

  • An unavoidable consequence of the nature of your work. For example, if you are working for a UK based business which requires frequent travel abroad
  • Exceptional or compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature such as having a firm job offer for which British citizenship is a genuine requirement

For significant excessive absences of between 481-900 days or between 301-540 days (if married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen) during the 5 or 3 year respective residential qualifying period, you should be able to demonstrate that you have established your home, family and a substantial part of your estate in the UK.

For significant excessive absences of between 101-179 days during the 12-month period before making the application, you should also be able to demonstrate that you have established your home, family and a substantial part of your estate in the UK.

How can Setfords help you?

For further information, please get in touch below.

Discuss your British Citizenship (Naturalisation) application with our Immigration Experts now

Nicola Anne Wilkins

Senior Consultant Solicitor – UK Immigration Law

Direct dial: 020 8103 2006
Head office: 0330 058 4012 then dial ext 2752
Email: nwilkins@setfords.co.uk
Form: Complete form now
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Quotes from previous clients

“Nicola assisted me in obtaining my UK Citizenship and UK Passport. I had a great experience working with Nicola. She is highly professional, thorough and her attention to detail is superb. She was also very good at explaining the process and proactive in helping me keep things on track by giving clear instructions on what was required as well as expert recommendations. A real pleasure to work with, and I would recommend Nicola to anyone needing expert support”.

“Nicola assisted me with my application for British Citizenship. I found Nicola to be a very hard-working, diligent and astute solicitor. During my time working with Nicola, she proved to be an excellent communicator, always keeping me aware of how the case was progressing, very good at keeping within budget and had extremely strong attention to detail, producing very thorough and high-quality work that achieved the result which I was looking for. Nicola was also an absolute pleasure to work with and I really felt that she went above and beyond the call of duty to help with the case. I would be delighted to work with Nicola again in the future”.