British Citizenship Application (2023): Requirements, Steps & Timeline

by | Feb 28, 2023 | British Citizenship, Indefinite Leave to Remain, UK Immigration

Updated on 05 October 2023

Citizenship is a significant milestone in an individual’s journey towards becoming a fully-fledged member of British society, as it confers many of the same rights and privileges as those born in the UK. The process of becoming a British citizen is referred to as naturalisation. The naturalisation process can be complex, with various requirements and eligibility criteria that must be met. This post will provide an overview of the British citizenship process, including the naturalisation requirements, the application process, attending a citizenship ceremony, and applying for a British passport. 

The UK acknowledges and permits dual nationality, allowing British citizens who possess dual nationality to hold a British passport. However, it’s important to note that not all countries permit dual citizenship; therefore, one may have to give up or lose their nationality to become a British citizen. If you are unsure about the laws of your current citizenship, it’s advisable to seek advice from the relevant authorities before applying for British citizenship.

To become a British citizen, individuals must first apply for naturalisation. The process of naturalisation generally involves the following steps:

Meeting Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for British naturalisation, an applicant must meet certain requirements. These include

  • Age: The applicant must be at least 18 years old
  • Residence requirements: The applicant must have lived in the UK for 5 years unless married to a British citizen, in which case the requirement is 3 years
  • You must have been physically present in the UK (including the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) on the day 5 years (or 3 years if married to a British citizen) before the Home Office receives the application
  • Good character: The applicant must be of good character, meaning they have not committed any serious or recent criminal offences, have not breached UK immigration laws, and have not made false statements or representations to the UK government
  • Must not have been in breach of the immigration laws in the 5 years before making an application
  • Language requirements: The applicant must demonstrate their knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test or holding an academic qualification taught in English. 
  • You must pass the Life in the UK test, which covers knowledge of British history, culture, and government
  • Freedom from immigration time restrictions: the applicant must prove that they have indefinite leave to remain or settled status in the UK at the date of application and for the 12 months before making the application
  • Must not have had more than 450 days outside the UK in the 5-year period before making the application
  • Must not have had more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12-month period before making the application
  • Intention to live in the UK: The applicant must intend to continue living in the UK after they become a British citizen.

It’s important to note that meeting these requirements does not guarantee that an application for naturalisation will be approved. 

For advice or assistance with your British Citizenship application, contact our experienced professionals at 02087575751 or use our contact form.

Submitting a British Citizenship Application

The applicant must complete and submit an application form, the necessary supporting documentation, and payment of the application fee. Generally, naturalisation applicants must use the application form AN to submit a valid application. The form asks for the applicant’s details, such as their name, date of birth, and contact information. It also asks for details about the applicant’s immigration status and their time spent living in the UK. In addition to the completed application form, the applicant must also provide the following supporting documentation:

  • Proof of identity: This can be in the form of a passport or a national identity card
  • Proof of residence: This can be in the form of utility bills, bank statements, or other official correspondence that shows the applicant’s address and confirms their time spent living in the UK
  • Proof of knowledge of English: Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test or holding an academic qualification taught in English
  • Proof of passing the Life in the UK test: Applicants must pass a test covering British history, culture, and government knowledge.

Once the application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the UK government’s Home Office. The processing time for naturalisation applications can vary, but it typically takes several months. The applicant may be asked to provide additional documentation or attend an interview.

All applicants must undergo biometric enrolment to verify their identity as part of the naturalisation application process. Failure to complete this step could result in invalidating the application. Instructions for biometric enrolment will be provided after application submission, and previously provided biometric information from prior immigration applications may be reused. Biometric enrolment is mandatory for all citizenship applications, including registration applications for children under 18. Children under 6 are only required to have a digital photograph of their face taken, while there is no age limit for biometric information to be taken. However, a parent or legal guardian must accompany children under 16 during their biometric enrolment appointment.

British Citizenship Application Processing Time 

As an immigration firm, we often receive inquiries from individuals interested in obtaining British citizenship through naturalisation. It is important to understand that the naturalisation process can be complex and time-consuming, and it is important to meet all eligibility requirements before applying. While the UK Home Office aims to conclude applications within 6 months of receipt, this is not guaranteed, and applications may take longer to process depending on the applicant’s circumstances. 

Once an application is submitted, applicants can travel using their valid passport and proof of their valid ILR or another valid status. However, it is important to note that a naturalisation application does not provide immigration permission, and individuals must demonstrate their entitlement to re-enter the UK upon return. Lengthy absences from the UK may also raise questions about future intentions. 

Attending a Citizenship Ceremony

After a naturalisation application is approved, the applicant will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This ceremony is a formal event that marks the applicant’s successful journey to becoming a British citizen. The ceremony is usually held in a local authority or community venue and is conducted by a local official, such as a mayor or councillor.

The applicant will take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the UK at the ceremony. The oath includes a pledge to be loyal to the UK and its values, to respect its laws and freedoms, and to uphold its democratic principles. The affirmation is similar to the oath but includes no religious references. After taking the oath or affirmation, the applicant will receive a naturalisation certificate. A naturalisation certificate is an important legal document that confirms the applicant’s status as a British citizen. 

It’s important to note that attending a citizenship ceremony is a mandatory part of the naturalisation process. Applicants who do not attend a ceremony within three months of being invited may have their naturalisation application cancelled. However, if an applicant has a valid reason for not being able to attend, such as a medical condition or religious observance, they can request to attend a private ceremony or to have the ceremony postponed.

Returning a BRP

You must return any Biometric Residence Permits within five working days of getting your certificate. To travel outside the UK after getting British citizenship, you must apply for a British passport or a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode. You cannot use your naturalisation certificate to travel. 

Applying for a British passport

Once you have received your naturalisation certificate, you can apply for a British passport.

To apply for a British passport, the applicant must provide their certificate of naturalisation, proof of identity, and two passport-sized photographs. The application can be made online or by mail; the processing time can take up to six weeks. Expedited processing options are available for an additional fee.

While the process of naturalisation can be complex, with various requirements and eligibility criteria that must be met, it is also a rewarding experience that can provide many benefits. From the ability to vote and access to public services, to the freedom to travel on a British passport, there are many advantages to becoming a British citizen. 

How can we help

At Whytecroft Ford, we understand that applying for British citizenship can be complex and time-consuming. That’s why we’re here to help. A dedicated immigration adviser from our team can help you navigate the application process from start to finish, ensuring you have the best possible chance of success.

Here are some of the ways we can assist you:

  • Assessment of eligibility: Before you begin the application process, knowing whether you meet the requirements for British citizenship is important. We can assess your eligibility and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Document preparation: We can help you gather and prepare the required documents, ensuring everything is in order before you submit your application.
  • Application guidance: Our team can guide you through the application process, providing advice on how to fill out the forms and what to expect throughout the process.
  • Ongoing support: Even after your application is approved, we’re here to help. Our team can provide ongoing support and guidance, answering any questions you may have and helping you navigate any challenges that arise.

At Whytecroft Ford, we’re committed to helping you achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you with your British citizenship application.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if my British citizenship application is refused?

You can request the Home Office UKVI reconsider their refusal decision through a formal Form NR request. As discussed below, you must use this form if you believe your application has been refused due to an official error

Can I include my family members in my British citizenship application?

You can include family members providing each individual meets the requirements. Unfortunately, there is no benefit financially. 

What is the fee for a British citizenship application?

Currently, the application fee is £1500 plus £80 per applicant to cover the ceremony fee. 

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