How does one become a British Citizen?
To become a British citizen you must first consider whether you meet the legal requirements of the Home Office. If you are indeed eligible to apply, including if your civil partner or spouse is a British citizen at the date of your application, then there are several steps to follow from this point. These steps involve choosing the correct application, starting your application, sending your application, post-application formalities, and citizenship ceremonies.
The most conventional way of becoming a British citizen is via naturalisation. You can apply to become a British citizen by means of naturalisation if you’re over 18, of good moral character, of sound mind, are planning to live in the UK, and if you’ve adequately met the knowledge of English and Life in the UK test requirements. A criminal case, a civil case, or even a traffic violation might affect your application.
If you are married to or the civil partner of a British Citizen, there are different requirements for your citizenship application. Before, you must have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years before you applied. Now this has increased to 6 years as a result of spouse visas being extended from 2 to 5 years before being entitled to Indefinite Leave to Remain, then another year before being entitled to apply for British citizenship.
You need to have been physically present in the UK 3 years before the application is received (e.g. if your application is received on 20/1/2017, you should have been physically present in the UK on 21/1/2014). During those 3 years before the application, you cannot have spent more than 270 days outside the UK, and you cannot have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last year (12 months). You must be free of immigration time restrictions on the application date, and cannot have broken any immigration rules during your stay in the UK. If you were exempt from immigration control (for example as a diplomat or a member of visiting armed forces) during your stay in the UK, you can’t include any of that time as part of your 3 years. It is typically treated as absence from the UK.
If you are not married to or the civil partner of a British Citizen, you must also have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before your application date (e.g. if your application is received on 20/1/2017, you must have been physically present in the UK on 21/1/2012). During those 5 years, you must have spent no more than 450 days outside of the UK, and you cannot have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last year (12 months) although there may be exceptions to this. You must also have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK (e.g. there is no specific date that you have to leave the country). You also must not have broken any immigration laws during your stay in the UK. If you were exempt from immigration control (for example as a diplomat or a member of visiting armed forces) during your stay in the UK, you can’t include any of that time as part of your 5 years. It is typically treated as absence from the UK.
You can further apply for British citizenship by registration under certain circumstances. You can also apply for British citizenship on behalf of a child under 18 years of age if they meet the eligibility criteria. A child under 18 years doesn’t have to pass the Life in the UK test. You can read more about British citizenship for children under 18 in the Home Office’s Guide MN1. Before submitting your application you must read the full Home Office guidance notes and requirements booklet.
There are various fees for different citizenship applications. The following information is based on the Home Office Master Fees Leaflet, in effect from 6 April 2016.
For adults applying for British Citizenship, a naturalisation application costs £1,236 and a registration application costs £1,121. The Section 4C registration (Ceremony Fee only) costs £80. For children under 18 applying to register as a British citizen, the fee is typically £936. However, an additional £80 (per applicant) will be required to cover the ceremony fee if the child is turning 18 during the application process.
For applications for other types of British Nationality, fees vary from £833 to £925 for adults, and £749 to £936 for children under 18. These do not include the separate Ceremony Fee of £80 per applicant.
An application for a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode in the UK costs £272. The costs of further applications for certificates and confirmations, including a Duplicate Certification, Confirmation of status as a British citizen, Reconsideration of an Application for Naturalisation or Registration, or a Correction to Nationality certificate, range from £198 to £272.
If you are unsure about what to do or want expert advice, seek the advice of a registered immigration adviser or an immigration solicitor.
• Home Office Master Fees Leaflet
• Booklet AN Naturalisation Booklet – The Requirements
Summarised from Home Office regulations, 12 August 2014