So you are thinking about becoming a British Citizen? What are the requirements, what do you need to do, and what do you need to know? Here we look at a step by step guide at the dos and don’ts of your application.
When Can You Apply?
There are different ways to become a British citizen, one of which is known as “naturalisation”. You can apply for naturalisation if:
- You 18 or over and of good character; and
- You’ll continue to live in the UK
In addition to these criteria, you will need to demonstrate that you have a sound knowledge of the English Language and pass a “life in the UK test” – the aim here being to help you integrate into the community better. It should be noted that children are not required to pass a Citizen test. You must also meet the residency requirements.
There are also requirements governing how long you will have needed to be present in the UK, but the official site will clarify the details of these. The residency requirement starting point however is having lived in the UK for 5 years.
What If Your Spouse/Civil Partner Are Already British?
If this is the case then the basic rules are different, and you should start your application here.
Basically though, if your spouse is British then you must:
- Be over 18 and of sound mind
- Have good character and not have convictions for immigration offences,
- Meet the knowledge of English and life in UK requirements as above; and
- Meet the residency requirement as above.
There are different rules for those working abroad for the UK Government. The best starting point for all guidance however is set out here (Form AN).
Ways To Apply
You have a choice of 3 ways to submit your application:
- You can make an individual Application using form AN as above
- Use the Nationality Checking Service (NCS) run through your local Council
- Use a specialist visa agent or representative.
In addition you will be required to provide Biometric Information i.e. finger prints and photographs at a cost of £19.20.
Procedure and Timescales
Your Application should be acknowledged within 4 weeks, but processing it can take up to six. Should further documentation be required you will be notified of this.
If your Application is successful you may need to attend a ceremony. There is a fee of £80 but for this you and two guests may attend. At the ceremony you will give an oath of allegiance to promise to abide by and respect British laws. With no ceremony, you will still have to give an oat
Your Permit and Biometrics must be sent/returned within 5 working days to the Home Office, fail to do this and you may face a fine of £1,000.00. Send it to:
Naturalisation BRP Returns
PO Box 195
Finally you need to remember that you cannot travel through immigration with your Certificate or Permit, only a British Passport or right to abode certificate.
Becoming a British Citizen is not a straight forward process, but if you want to go ahead, then it is always better to understand the processes and requirements before you start rather than trying to learn them as you go along. There is help, if you know where to get it, from places such as The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or from specialist solicitors.
As with everything you do it is better to do a little research beforehand and then get it right first time.