What Are the 6 Types of British Citizenship?

What Are the 6 Types of British Citizenship?

British citizenship can be gained in a few different ways depending on where you were born, where your parents were born and what nationality they are. Some people will need to apply for British citizenship, while others will gain it through birth if their parents are British citizens and they were born in the UK.

When applying for British citizenship, there are a few different processes for different routes and an application fee to be paid before being granted citizenship in a ceremony.

Let’s look at what the 6 types of British citizenship are, and how you can apply for British citizenship given your individual circumstances.

6 Types of British Citizenship

6 Types of British Citizenship

British citizenship grants a person the right to live, work, study, vote and access public services in the UK as well as hold a British passport.

The 6 types of British citizenship are:

  • By birth
  • By descent
  • By adoption
  • By registration
  • By naturalisation
  • Citizens of British Overseas Territories

Most people born and raised in the UK to British parents will gain British citizenship by birth, however, if your parents aren’t British citizens, you won’t automatically get British citizenship if you’re born in the UK. If at least one of your parents is a British citizen and you were born outside of the UK, you will be able to get British citizenship by descent. If you were born outside of the UK to non-British citizens but then adopted by British citizens, you may also acquire British citizenship through your adoption process.

The topic of registration and naturalisation is where the distinction often becomes slightly unclear, as these routes to British citizenship are for non-British citizens who live in the UK and can apply based on their personal life, such as marriage or residency, or by being in the UK legally for a certain number of years.

Britain has 14 overseas territories around the world from the Antarctic to islands in the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. People born in these countries or who have lived in them for a specified number of years will be British Overseas citizens. Their rights to travel to and live in the UK are different from standard British citizens.

What is the Difference Between Naturalisation and Registration as a British Citizen?

What is the Difference Between Naturalisation and Registration as a British Citizen?

Naturalisation and registration are both ways to gain British citizenship for non-UK nationals who meet specific requirements regarding their time in the UK or their ties to the UK, so it can be difficult to know which is which when you’re applying for British citizenship.

Registration is predominantly for people with links to the UK, for example, a child born in the UK to parents who are not British citizens but have residency, or for citizens of British overseas territories. There is no specific period within which they must have resided in the UK to be able to gain British citizenship through registration. When applying for citizenship through registration, you are also not required to take a Life in the UK test or prove your English language skills.

Naturalisation is the most common process of gaining British citizenship as it is for non-British citizens who are living in the UK on a valid visa for a specific period, usually over 5 years, and who meet the other application requirements.

The eligibility criteria, application processes, and requirements can vary between naturalisation and registration, so check which one is for you before starting your application.

What is the Difference Between a British Citizen and a British Overseas Citizen?

While British Overseas Territories citizens are born on British soil, they do not have the same rights to live, work or access public services in the UK as British citizens in the UK. The UK comprises England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Citizens of all other overseas territories including the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Falkland Islands and the British Indian Ocean Territory must apply for British citizenship through registration in order to have the same rights in the UK as British citizens and hold a UK passport.

How Do You Apply for British Citizenship?

How Do You Apply for British Citizenship?

When applying for British citizenship, you need to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and gather your supporting documents before starting your application. We’ll look specifically at the application process for British citizenship through naturalisation.

Most people will need to have lived in the UK for 5 years and gained Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before applying for British Citizenship. There are some exceptions for certain work visas which grant ILR after 2 or 3 years, and for partners of British citizens in the UK on Spouse visas who can apply for citizenship through registration after 3 years.

For British citizenship through naturalisation, you must also:

  • Be over 18
  • Prove you have had valid visas to be in the UK for the last 5 years
  • Prove you have had ILR for at least 12 months
  • Prove your knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
  • Have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ Test
  • Demonstrate your intention to continue living in the UK
  • Be of good character i.e. not have committed any immigration crimes or serious crimes

You must be able to prove you meet each requirement with documentary evidence which you will submit alongside your application online with your identity documents

The Life in the UK Test is an essential requirement for naturalisation to demonstrate your knowledge of British culture, history, geography and values which will make you an outstanding British citizen.

When you submit your application, you’ll also be required to pay the £1,580 application fee. Each type of British citizenship costs a different amount.

How Do You Apply for Permanent Residence?

Permanent residency is another term used for ILR and Settled Status (EU citizens living and working in the UK before the UK left the EU could apply for Settled Status to remain lawfully in the UK). Permanent residence is necessary to apply for British citizenship, with some residents able to apply after 2 or 3 years with certain work visas, and most others able to apply after 5 years.

You can apply for ILR online on the government website, submitting your supporting documents and paying the application fee of £2,885 – you don’t need to pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS) when applying for ILR.

Only foreign nationals who have been living in the UK on certain long-term visas may apply for ILR, however.

What Visas Count Towards British Citizenship?

For ILR and British citizenship, you need to have lived legally in the UK for at least 5 years. Short-term visas do not count towards your time spent in the UK, so you cannot apply for ILR or citizenship if you’ve only been in the UK with:

  • Standard Visitor visas
  • Student visas
  • Graduate visas
  • Diplomat visas (or as family or staff of a diplomat)

If you have lived in the UK for 5 consecutive years on Work visas or Family visas and have not left the UK for more than 450 days during that time, you can apply for ILR and after 12 months, apply for British citizenship.

Why Get British Citizenship?

Why Get British Citizenship?

If you can stay in the UK permanently with ILR or Settled Status, why get British citizenship?

There are some key advantages that make British citizenship worthwhile if you plan to stay permanently in the UK that you don’t have as a permanent resident, including:

  • Having the right to vote in all elections
  • The opportunity to gain a British passport, potentially allowing visa-free travel to more countries
  • Full access to public services including governmental benefits for unemployment and disability
  • Access to more job opportunities
  • The chance to leave and reenter the UK with no restrictions or the risk of being deported
  • Being able to pass down citizenship to your children born in the UK
  • Having access to British consular services when travelling abroad

If you plan to live permanently in the UK, each of these factors will enable you to live a free and comfortable life, without the worry you may have from only having ILR.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

If you need help applying for a visa or British citizenship, contact us at Synergy Immigrations Solutions today!

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