Naturalisation as a British Citizen – Adult and Child Categories

If you are at least 18 years old and have been granted indefinite leave to remain or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation.

Can I apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation?

In order to be naturalised as a British citizen, you will need to meet certain statutory criteria with regard to your immigration status, length of residence in the UK, future intentions, knowledge of the English language and life in the UK, and good character. The requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation vary slightly depending on whether you are married to a British citizen or not.

Requirements for the British Citizenship by Naturalisation for persons not married to a British Citizen

If you are not married to a British citizen (or do not wish to rely on your marriage to a British citizen) the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day five years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that five year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK and have not been subject to any such time limit at any time during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language;
  • Your intentions are that if your application is successful your home (or principal home) will be in the UK.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to our expert immigration lawyers for legal advice.

Requirements for the British Citizenship by Naturalisation for persons married to a British Citizen

If you are married to a British citizen, the Home Office must be satisfied that:

  • You were in the UK on the day three years before the date of your application;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the intervening three year period;
  • You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during that three year period;
  • You have not been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application;
  • You are not subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK at the date of your application;
  • You are of good character;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to our expert immigration lawyers for legal advice.

Can I apply for British Citizenship straight after ILR?

If you are married to a British citizen, you can apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation as soon as you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. You will need to satisfy all of the other requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation outlined above. If you are not married to a British citizen, you will need to have been free of immigration time restrictions for at least 12 months immediately preceding the date of your application. This means that you will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation 12 months after being granted ILR.

How many days can I stay outside the UK for British Citizenship?

In order to qualify for UK Citizenship, you will need to have spent not more than 90 days outside the UK during the 12-month period immediately before the date of your application for British Citizenship by Naturalisation. If you are not married to a British citizen, you will also need to have not been away from the UK for more than 450 days during the preceding 5 years. If you are married to a British citizen, you will need to have spent not more than 270 days outside the UK in the previous 3 years.

What is the Good Character Requirement for British Citizenship?

The British Nationality Act 1981 requires any person who wishes to naturalise as a British Citizen to be of ‘good character’. ‘Good character’ is not defined in the Act, but Home Office nationality policy guidance explains how the ‘Good Character’ Requirement will be assessed. This contains a non-exhaustive list of conduct that will mean that an applicant is not of ‘good character’ including criminality, terrorism, financial soundness, notoriety, deception and dishonesty and immigration-related matters.

It is important that the good character requirement is considered carefully in any application for British Citizenship by Naturalisation as apparently innocuous matters can lead to an adverse decision. Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that any potential good character issues are identified and properly addressed as part of your UK Citizenship application.

Is there any flexibility in the criteria for British Citizenship by Naturalisation?

The Secretary of State has a discretion to treat applicants for UK Citizenship as meeting some of the requirements even where those requirements are not met. This includes:

  • The permitted absence requirements (e.g. if you have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 month period prior to your application);
  • The 12 month ‘no time limit’ requirement;
  • The requirement not to have been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during the three or five year qualifying period.

The Secretary of State has a discretion to waive the language and life in the UK requirements on grounds of the applicant’s age, physical or mental condition.

The Secretary of State has no discretion to waive, or to treat applicants as meeting, the following requirements:

  • To have been in the UK at the start of the three or five year qualifying period (although there is some discretion in relation to members of the armed forces);
  • To be free of any restriction on the period you may stay in the UK (i.e. to have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK or to have acquired a right of permanent residence);
  • To be of good character.

It is important that any application for British Citizenship requiring an exercise of discretion is prepared and presented carefully. Advice from an immigration lawyer should be sought at an early stage.

Can EEA / EU Nationals and their family members apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen?

Yes, EEA nationals and their family members can apply for UK Citizenship, but EEA nationals and their family must have obtained EU Settlement Scheme Settled Status and held it for at least one year before applying for UK Citizenship.

What about British Overseas Persons such as BOTC’s, BNO’s, BOC’s etc?

If you are a British Overseas Territories Citizen, a British National (Overseas), a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, or a British protected person then you are not a British citizen; however, naturalisation is unlikely to be suitable for you as you are likely to have an alternative route to British citizenship by Descent through registration.

Who can be a referee for a British Citizenship by Naturalisation application?

You will need to provide two referees when you apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation. One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing, such as a minister of religion, civil servant, or a member of a professional body such as an accountant, solicitor or barrister (who is not representing you with the application). The other referee must normally be the holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or over the age of 25.

How much does it cost to apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen?

The Home Office application fee for an application for Naturalisation as a British Citizen is £1,330. You will need to spend a further £80 to arrange a citizenship ceremony (including the administration of a citizenship oath and pledge at the ceremony).

How long does it take to get British Citizenship?

Applications for Naturalisation as a British Citizen can take up to 6 months to be determined. However, we typically receive UK Citizenship decisions from the Home Office within about 3 months.

Can I leave the UK while waiting for my UK Citizenship application to be processed?

Yes, once you have applied for British Citizenship, you can travel outside the UK while your application is pending. When you apply for British Citizenship, you can submit a full certified copy of your passport and keep your original passport with you. You can then use your original passport to travel overseas.

What happens after I have applied for Naturalisation as a British Citizen?

If your application for naturalisation as a British citizen is successful, you will have to attend a registration ceremony. At the end of the ceremony you will be presented with your certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen. You will then be able to apply for a British passport.

What happens if my British Naturalisation application is refused? 

If your application for naturalisation as a British citizen is refused, you can apply for Nationality Reconsideration if it is clear that the Home Office has made an error in refusing the application or has overlooked information that you had provided with the application. If you failed to provide all the documents to demonstrate you meet all the requirements, then a Nationality Reconsideration application may not be suitable and you may need to make a fresh application. 

If you have any doubts about applying for the British Naturalisation application, please contact our immigration lawyers for expert advice.

Making an British Citizenship by Naturalisation application with OneLaw Chambers

At OneLaw Chambers, our immigration solicitors and barristers regularly assist with British Citizenship by Naturalisation applications in order for applicants to remain and settle in the UK. We have assisted many foreign national applicants to prepare and submit successful British Citizenship by Naturalisation applications and we have represented clients from all over the world.

Whether you require expert immigration advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules, an independent immigration assessment of your prospects of qualifying for British Citizenship by Naturalisation or professional immigration representation with preparing your British Citizenship by Naturalisation application, our immigration solicitors and barristers can help you.

We are committed to ensuring that our immigration solicitors and barristers prepare every immigration visa application with utmost quality and skill so that successful outcome is achieved every time. Our immigration solicitors and barristers operate in a friendly and cooperative manner to provide our clients with the best client care and service during the entire immigration application process.

Happy with his professional advice and assistance

Aejaz Mussa help me to obtain my biometric registration successfully.

I came back to him for assistance with my British Citizenship and passport which as well with his help I was successful in obtaining.

I am very happy with his professional advice and assistance. Aejaz Mussa help me to obtain my biometric card and registration and a few months later my British Citizenship. He was very knowledgeable and professional, therefore I would highly recommend his firm OneLaw Chambers to people on need of legal advice.

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Marisa Webb

They are excellent immigration solicitors and barristers and you receive the very best service from them.

I instructed OneLaw Chambers to apply for my British citizenship application. I met Mr Aejaz Mussa who was very knowledgeable and explained the whole process for applying for British citizenship and I understood all the requirements. Mr Aejaz Mussa then submitted the application for me and the application was successful. I was very happy and over the moon that Mr Aejaz Mussa achieved a successful result for me and especially so quickly during the COVID 19 pandemic when I understand there are a lot of delays. I cannot recommend Mr Aejaz Mussa and OneLaw Chambers enough. They are excellent immigration solicitors and barristers and you receive the very best service from them. They should be very highly rated and I would give them more than just 5 stars if I could. Thank you OneLaw Chambers and Mr Aejaz Mussa for everything you have done for me.

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Fatmir Xhosha

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