What Qualifies You to Be a British Citizen?

What Qualifies You to Be a British Citizen?

Acquiring British citizenship varies based on factors such as place of birth, the nationality of parents, and their birthplace. Some individuals may be required to submit applications to obtain British citizenship, while others automatically acquire it through birth if their parents are British citizens, and they were born in the UK.

So who can apply for British citizenship and what qualifies them to do so? We’ll explore the different ways to apply for citizenship and what the eligibility requirements are so you know how you can apply for British citizenship.

Who Can Apply for British Citizenship?

Who Can Apply for British Citizenship?

People who are born in the UK to British parents will automatically have British citizenship and won’t need to apply or register. However, if neither of your parents are British citizens, you won’t automatically be granted British citizenship just by being born in the UK.

You can apply for British citizenship if you:

  • Have lived in the UK for at least 5 years and have had ILR for at least 12 months
  • Have been born in the UK to at least one person with British citizenship
  • Have been adopted by a couple with British citizenship
  • Have British Overseas Territories citizenship
  • Have an ancestral link to Britain but were not born in the UK

Each application process is different, however, in most cases, you can apply for British citizenship through naturalisation or registration.

British Citizenship by Naturalisation

Gaining British citizenship through naturalisation is the most common process for foreign nationals as you can apply after having lived in the UK for a specific time period (usually 5 years although sometimes 2 or 3 depending on your visa) and having had permanent residence in the UK for at least 12 months.

To naturalise as a British citizen, you need to:

  • 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

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you qualify to be a British citizen and can start your application online, submit your supporting documents and pay the application fee.

British Citizenship by Registration

Gaining British citizenship by registration is similar to naturalisation, however, the eligibility requirements and application process are slightly different.

If you are already a citizen of one of the UK’s 14 British Overseas Territories, you won’t have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other British citizens, however, you can apply for British citizenship through registration. Similarly, if you have a parent who is a British citizen and you were born outside of the UK, you can also apply for citizenship through registration.

What many people don’t realise is that you can also apply for British citizenship through registration if you’re married to a British citizen and living in the UK on a Spouse visa for at least 3 years. Spouse visas are usually issued for 2 years and 9 months on the first application, so you will have to extend your Spouse visa once in order to be eligible, however, you don’t have to extend it a second time and apply for permanent residency as you would with other visas; one of the main benefits of a Spouse visa is that you can simply apply for British citizenship by registration after only 3 years.

What Qualifies You to Be a British Citizen?

What Qualifies You to Be a British Citizen?

To qualify for British citizenship, you, therefore, have to meet the eligibility requirements for your route to citizenship and provide sufficient supporting evidence for your application, as well as pay the application fee. For naturalisation, the application fee is £1,580 for adults.

To qualify for citizenship through naturalisation, alongside your application, you need to submit:

  • Your identity document
  • Previous passports held whilst in the UK
  • Previous visas held whilst in the UK
  • Evidence of your permanent residence
  • A language certificate or university degree certificate for a course in English, to show your English language capabilities, unless exempt
  • Proof you have passed the Life in the UK Test
  • Evidence of your connections to the UK such as a work contract or marriage certificate
  • A police certificate to show whether or not you have any criminal convictions

Applicants under 19 and over 65 do not have to prove their English language skills, however, those that do must have at least B1-level English according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Once your application is submitted, the Home Office has up to 6 months to process your documents, after which they will send you an approval or rejection letter, and later a citizenship invitation letter if your application is successful.

How Do You Get ILR?

How Do You Get ILR?

Unless you are applying for British citizenship through registration, you will need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status, also known as permanent residency. To get ILR, you must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years on valid visas and not left the country for more than 450 days during those five years, and more than 90 days during the last 12 months.

You must provide evidence of your travel dates and reasons for travel when applying for ILR to prove you have not stayed outside of the country for more than the permitted period. This will help to show your intention to reside permanently in the UK. If your application for ILR is successful, you may not leave the country for more than 2 years at once, or your ILR status will be revoked, and you may not apply for British citizenship.

Visas that are considered valid for ILR applications include long-term visas such as Work visas and Family visas, not short-term visas like Standard Visitor visas, Student visas or Graduate visas. Some Work visas also allow you to apply for ILR after only 2 or 3 years, speeding up the route to citizenship, including:

What Are the Benefits of Having British Citizenship?

What Are the Benefits of Having British Citizenship?

While ILR gives you the right to reside, work and study in the UK indefinitely, there are still limitations on what you can and can’t do, including accessing public funds, leaving the country and having your right to remain in the UK revoked.

British citizenship isn’t just about getting a British passport – although, with visa-free entry to 153 countries and territories around the world, this is, of course, a huge benefit for many people.

Gaining British citizenship will also grant you:

  • The right to vote in all elections
  • The right to stand as an MP
  • Full access to public services including governmental benefits for unemployment and disability
  • Access to more job opportunities
  • The chance to leave and re-enter the UK with no restrictions
  • The right to remain in the UK after committing a serious crime and not face deportation
  • The ability to pass down citizenship to your children born in the UK
  • Access to British consular and diplomatic services when travelling abroad

You won’t automatically gain a British passport if you gain citizenship, although you can apply if you wish, and you can gain dual citizenship if your home country allows it, so you can have the same rights to reside in both the UK and your home country.

Synergy Immigration Solutions – Here to Help

You’ll know that visa application processes can be complicated if you’re thinking of applying for British citizenship, so why struggle through an application for citizenship when you can get professional help?

At Synergy Immigration Solutions, we have a team of experts on the UK immigration system who are ready to help you understand the application process and take you through it step by step. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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