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The UK’s Most Comprehensive Naturalisation Guide

We’ve used our wealth of experience to create the most comprehensive online guide to applying for British Citizenship through naturalisation. In our guide below you’ll find everything you need to know about the application process, eligibility criteria, documentary requirements, fees and waiting times. We hope this free resource assists you in your application and should you need some assistance with your application, you can always get in touch with us online or by phone.

What is British Naturalisation?

British naturalisation is the process by which a foreign national becomes a British Citizen. It is also referred to as obtaining British citizenship. Naturalisation allows individuals not born British citizens or entitled to British citizenship by descent to acquire citizenship through an application process. Once obtained, the holder enjoys the same rights and privileges as any other British citizen. This means no further immigration control, the right to live and work in the UK freely, plus access to public funds where appropriate.

Naturalisation is the final step in the UK’s immigration journey and provides the opportunity to obtain a British passport. To get to this final step, you need to have one of the following immigration statuses:

  • Hold Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and have done so for a minimum of one year.
  • Possess EU Settled Status through the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and have done so for at least one year.
  • Be married to, in a civil partnership, or the unmarried partner of a British citizen and have resided in the UK for a minimum of three years.

If you hold one of the above statuses, you can consider applying. However, before applying, you should check your eligibility against the full requirements, which we examine below.

What are the Requirements for British Naturalisation?

You can make an application for British Citizenship by naturalisation if you can meet the criteria set down below. 

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for naturalisation. There are special provisions for minors and individuals with British parents.
  • Residence: You have not left the UK for more than 450 days in total in the last 5 years and have not left the UK for more than 90 days in total in the previous 12 months before applying for British Citizenship. If you are the partner of a British national, the time outside the UK rule is slightly different. You must not have left the UK for more than 270 days during the last 3 years and must not have left the UK for more than 90 days in total in the 12 months before applying for British Citizenship.
  • Present in the UK: You must prove that you were physically present in the UK 5 years previous to your date of application. If you applied on 1st June 2023, you must have been in the UK on 2nd June 2018. Where you are the partner of a British National, this same rule applies. However, you must have been physically present in the UK 3 years previous to your date of application.
  • Future in the UK: You must intend to make the UK your permanent home and have no plans to leave the country in the foreseeable future.
  • Good Character: You must demonstrate that you have a good character, which involves no adverse immigration history, paying taxes, and not having any serious criminal convictions.
  • Sound Mind: You are of sound mind and understand the step you’re taking and the implications it may have on any other nationalities you hold
  • Life in the UK Test: You must have passed the Life in the UK Test
  • English Language Requirement: You must demonstrate your knowledge of the English language

It’s important to note that the criteria for obtaining British Citizenship through Naturalisation differ slightly depending on whether you are a British citizen’s partner. It’s important to ensure you’re assessing your eligibility based on the correct criteria.

Understanding the British Naturalisation Requirements 

Not all of the requirements for naturalisation are immediately clear and understandable, so we’ve taken a closer look at some of these below.

The Future in the UK Requirement for Naturalisation

Under this requirement, you must confirm your intention to continue residing in the UK in the event of a successful application.

This requirement is typically satisfied by self-declaration, providing no circumstances raise doubts about your intentions. Such circumstances could include:

  • Having a partner who currently lives or plans to live outside the UK.
  • You have recently been absent from the UK for 6 months or longer.

Where such circumstances occur, you must provide supplementary evidence to demonstrate that the UK is your permanent home and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

The Good Character Requirement for Naturalisation

The British Nationality Act 1981 includes a legal requirement stating that individuals seeking to naturalise as British citizens must possess good character. This entails adhering to UK laws and demonstrating respect for the rights and freedoms of its citizens.

It is important to be truthful in your application and consistent with previous applications. Where there are any potential issues, it is important to supply supplementary evidence to address the issue. Verification checks are conducted to ensure the accuracy of the information provided. This could involve checks with different government departments, such as HMRC, to ensure you’ve been paying taxes.

The Sound Mind Requirement for Naturalisation

This requirement aims to ensure that you can comprehend the consequences of your decision to become a British citizen through naturalisation. There is flexibility to consider exceptions to this requirement in specific situations deemed advantageous for the applicant. For example, if you are submitting an application on behalf of an individual who lacks mental capacity and for whom you have caregiving responsibilities, you can provide pertinent information regarding the person’s medical condition and your role as their caregiver during the application process.

The Life in the UK Test Requirement for Naturalisation

Meeting the life in the UK requirement entails successfully passing the Life in the UK Test, which tests your understanding of British customs, traditions, laws, and the political system. As the Life in the UK Test is a requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you should have already passed the test. The same test can also be used for your naturalisation application.  You must provide the reference number indicated on your pass certificate as part of the application process. In general, it is not necessary to physically submit the certificate itself.

The English Language Requirement for Naturalisation

In order to meet the language requirements for naturalisation, you must have sufficient speaking and listening proficiency in English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic. This requirement is separate from the Life in the UK requirement, and both must be fulfilled.

To satisfy the language requirement, you have the following options:

  • Home Office approved English language test: You can provide an English language qualification from the Secure English Language Test list at B1 CEFR level or higher. Only qualifications from this list will be accepted as evidence of meeting the B1-level English requirement. When applying, clearly state the test number, as there is no need to physically submit evidence of any English language test taken after April 6, 2015. You should include the unique reference number (URN) on your application form. Test results are valid for two years from the test date.
  • UK degree certificate: If you have a UK academic qualification equivalent to a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree taught in English, you are not required to provide a formal speaking and listening qualification. However, you need to provide your degree certificate.
  • Degree certificate from an English-speaking country: If your degree was taught or researched in a majority English-speaking country, you are not required to provide a formal speaking and listening qualification. However you need an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to confirm its equivalence to a UK qualification. For degrees from non-majority English-speaking countries, you require both an AQUALS and an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis, showing that your degree was taught in English.
  • UK postgraduate diploma or graduate diploma: Postgraduate diplomas from UK universities, such as PGDip, PG Dip, PgD, or PgDip, are acceptable as an alternative to an English language test. However, professional diplomas without an undergraduate degree requirement cannot be considered.
  • Passport from a majority English-speaking country: If you are a national of a country on the majority English-speaking country list (e.g., USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.), you are not required to provide a formal speaking and listening qualification. Details on the full list of the majority English speaking countries are available in our knowledge centre.

 

How to Apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation

The application process for British Citizenship via naturalisation is now fully digital, greatly simplifying the process. It also means you don’t need to send physical documents with your application.

The process is as follows:

  • Complete the application form: Fill out the naturalisation application form (Form AN) via the Home Office website. You will need to complete personal details, employment information, and details about any dependants. You must provide 2 references as well (one personal and one professional)
  • Pay the application fee: This is £1,580 unless you meet the exempt criteria
  • Schedule a biometric appointment: You’ll also need to select a date to provide your biometric information at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre
  • Submit your application: You can now submit your finalised application
  • Upload your documents: You should upload all of your supporting documents before your biometric appointment
  • Attend your biometric appointment: Attend the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre and provide them with your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo)
  • Wait for a decision: Processing times for naturalisation applications aren’t quick, and it typically takes 3-6 months for a decision to be made
  • Receive your decision: All being well, your application will be approved. You will then be required to book an appointment with the local Council for a Citizenship Ceremony.
  • Citizenship ceremony: At the citizenship ceremony, you will take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the UK and be presented with a certificate of British citizenship. You are now officially a British citizen.

Following your attendance at the citizenship ceremony, you can apply for a British Passport. Separate fees apply for this application.

Documents Required for British Naturalisation Application

The supporting documents for your British naturalisation application will vary by case, however, a typical application would require the following documents:

  • Proof of identity: Typically, your passport or national identity card
  • Proof of ILR: This could be your resident permit or ILR award letter
  • Proof you have met the English language requirement: This could be in the form of an approved English language test, degree certificate or passport from a majority English-speaking country
  • Proof you have passed the Life in the UK Test: You need the reference number from your test certificate.
  • Additional documentation: Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and history of any previous visa awards should also be included

Once you have submitted your application, you can digitally upload your supporting documentation. This means that your passport and other documents don’t need to be held by the Home Office, allowing you to continue your life in the UK without hindrance. This also includes overseas travel, which is allowed while the application is pending.

How much is the Naturalisation Application Fee?

The application fee for Naturalisation is currently £1,580. There may also be an additional fee for submitting your biometric data, depending on the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre you select. Free appointments are available but often limited in availability. When submitting your application online, you can select a date for your biometric appointment.

There are no other fees payable as part of your naturalisation application. The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge does not apply once you have obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain. No priority services are available for naturalisation, so you cannot pay a higher fee to expedite the application.

You can apply for a British Passport after achieving British Citizenship, which costs £82.50 for a standard 34-page passport. If you want to apply by post rather than online, this will cost you the higher price of £93.

What is the Processing Time for a British Naturalisation Application?

The processing time for a naturalisation application is typically 3 to 6 months. This long time reflects the various checks and verification procedures that must be undertaken before an application can be approved. Due to the extent of the checks that are undertaken, no express service is available to expedite your application. However, on a more positive note, as your application is submitted online and you can submit your documents digitally, you can continue your life as normal. This includes leaving the country for international travel while the application is pending.

What Happens Once my Naturalisation Application is Approved?

Once your British naturalisation application is approved, you have a couple more steps to complete before officially becoming a British Citizen. The first of these steps is to wait for a letter from the Home Office confirming the approval of your naturalization application. This letter will include information about what happens now. After receiving the approval letter, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This ceremony is a formal event where you will take an Oath of Allegiance and pledge loyalty to the United Kingdom, expressing your commitment to uphold the country’s rights, freedoms, and laws. You will also receive your Certificate of Naturalisation during the ceremony. You are now officially a British Citizen, and you can use your Certificate of Naturalisation to make an application for a British Passport.

Applying for a British Passport

To apply for a British passport, you need to complete the following steps:

  • Application Form: Complete the passport application form. This can be done online using the official government website, or you can obtain a paper application form from a Post Office branch that offers the Check & Send service.
  • Supporting Documents: Gather the required supporting documents. This will include your Certificate of Naturalisation, proof of identity (such as a valid UK driving license or a valid UK biometric residence permit), and two identical passport photos that meet the specific requirements. Additional documents could be required depending on your circumstances.
  • References: Provide details of two referees who have known you for at least two years. They should not be family members and should be willing to be contacted to confirm your identity.
  • Payment: Pay the application fee of £82.50 for online applications or £93 for postal applications.
  • Submit Application: Submit your completed application form, supporting documents, and payment. If you have applied online, you may need to send your supporting documents separately by mail or use a digital service to provide them. If using a paper application, you can submit it in person at a participating Post Office branch or send it by mail.
  • Processing and Collection: Once your application is submitted, it will be processed by HM Passport Office. Their guidance suggests processing times of up to 10 weeks, but many applications are processed much quicker than this. Try to avoid applying for a passport in the run-up to summer, which is the busiest time of the year.

British Naturalisation and Dual Nationality

For many migrants to the UK, obtaining British Citizenship is the end goal. However, it’s important to understand the implications of obtaining British Citizenship and holding dual nationality. First and foremost, these considerations should be made upfront before applying for naturalisation. Waiting until after you have obtained British Citizenship before considering how this will affect you could lead to unforeseen implications.

The United Kingdom allows dual nationality, meaning you can become a British citizen through naturalisation while retaining your citizenship(s) from another country. This means the UK government does not require you to renounce your previous citizenship when you become a British citizen. However, this approach is not reciprocated across all governments, and several countries do not allow dual citizenship. These countries include China, Kuwait, Laos, Malawi, Myanmar and Nepal. Depending on your other nationalities, there can also be tax, consular, and national service obligations, so ensure you’ve researched your specific circumstances.

General British Citizenship & Naturalisation FAQs

Our Naturalisation Experts have perfected the way we present and submit our British Citizenship applications to ensure we always secure naturalisation approvals with a five-star service. During this time, we have been fortunate enough to experience almost every possible situation regarding eligibility or supporting document issues, and we know every reason given for refusing an application for British Citizenship. Armed with this expert level of knowledge and experience, we can ensure you secure your naturalisation approval the first time you apply.

So, you can either spend months researching how to secure your approval or follow our simple instructions and allow us to secure the approval for you. Should you choose our full representation service, you will receive our no-win, no-fee guarantee (subject to our Terms and Conditions) and benefit from our expert legal cover letter that argues your naturalisation application through to approval. We have only been as successful as we are in securing British citizenship approvals due to the power of our legal cover letter. Perfected over the past 12 years and 4,000+ UK naturalisation approvals, our legal cover letter explains your case to the Home Office while linking your supporting documents to the specific rules that apply to your case. That way, we can ensure that even a poorly trained or new Home Office caseworker will not make mistakes when deciding upon your case.

Should you not want our British Citizenship Experts to represent your application fully, why not allow us to be your insurance policy by taking advantage of our consultation services or Expert Citizenship Checking Service? We offer a Telephone/Zoom Consultation if you want us to answer any questions or doubts you may have about your application. As you pay for our time and access to our expert knowledge, we will tell you the answers to any questions and teach you everything you need to know to secure your naturalisation approval. Likewise, once you have fully prepared your cover letter and application form(s) and gathered all the documents needed, you can purchase our Expert Checking Service to ensure you have not made mistakes that could jeopardise a successful application. While we can only guarantee your citizenship approval if we represent your case, rest assured your dedicated Naturalisation Expert will advise you of all the changes needed to your application. Considering our full-service clients secure their British citizenship approvals first-time, you can expect your naturalisation application to be approved if our advice is followed to the letter.

Why not call one of our British Citizenship Experts today (or request a call-back on this page) so we can provide you with a quote for the different services we offer and let us give you the confidence you need to choose First Migration to ensure you finally secure your British citizenship.  

Knowledge is power, but experience counts for everything to ensure a naturalisation application is approved every time, without exception. As you can appreciate, our Citizenship Experts are testing the naturalisation system daily. This enables us to ensure our clients are always ahead of any changes to the British citizenship rules, naturalisation policy guidance, or the latest excuses for refusing a British citizenship application. This level of practical experience ensures that we can manage the process for our clients, make all the right decisions when applying, reduce the risk of mistakes, and give our clients the peace of mind they expect. As soon as a new excuse is given for refusing a naturalisation case, our detailed document list, document templates, and legal cover letter are updated to ensure this new excuse cannot be used to refuse our clients’ naturalisation applications.

Should the application process change while you apply, our advice and service will immediately adapt to the new circumstances, so you will not be impacted in any way. Only by preparing and securing naturalisation approvals daily could you ever apply for British citizenship in total confidence that it will be approved first-time. So why not become a part of First Migration’s success story and take advantage of our experience and expert knowledge? All you have to do is sign up for our service, pay our professional fee, follow our advice, and let your dedicated British Citizenship Expert do everything else for you!

There are three easy ways you can contact us to take advantage of our free British citizenship eligibility assessment and speak with a Naturalisation Expert with over 12 years of practical experience. Rest assured that you will only ever speak directly with a citizenship expert here at First Migration should you contact us through one of the following means:

  • You can call us on 0203 178 2048 – and you will be able to speak directly to a Naturalisation Expert with 12 years of experience securing only British citizenship approvals. Your dedicated expert will check your eligibility for free and explain our services and the process of obtaining your British citizenship. Should you want to meet us before signing up for our service, we will offer you a free 30-minute Zoom consultation with one of our Naturalisation Experts. We know that once you have spoken or met with us, you will place your faith in us to ensure the most important application you will ever make in the UK is approved the first time.
  • You can submit a Call-Back Request, and we will call you back as soon as possible. You can do this at the top of the screen, and one of our Naturalisation Experts will call you to carry out the free assessment over the phone.
  • You can send an email to contact@firstmigration.com.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to ensure that your application for British citizenship is approved the first time, without exception.

Should you sign up for our full-representation service, we offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee (in line with our Terms and Conditions) to demonstrate our confidence in securing your British citizenship. All you need to take advantage of this guarantee is to provide us with the supporting documents we ask for in the format requested and follow our advice to the letter when we apply on your behalf.

We also reassure all our clients that should they sign up for our full-service and satisfy all the eligibility requirements, they are signing up for us to work with them until we secure the naturalisation approval. As a result, our service will only be over once we have delivered your approval as promised.

Any applicants applying for British citizenship between the ages of 18 and 65 are required to take an exam called the Life in the UK test and satisfy an English language requirement. The Life in the UK test is not difficult, but we sincerely recommend that you learn from the official study guide; otherwise, it may be challenging to pass the test. Most British nationals who have attempted the Life in the UK test have failed because they have not read the study guide! The test itself has been introduced to see how much you know about British history, culture, and politics.

There are four ways to satisfy the British Level B1 Speaking and Listening English language requirement:

  1. You are a national of a majority English-speaking country – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
  2. You have a degree that was taught in English (to a high enough level) awarded outside the UK, and the degree is comparable to a UK degree;
  3. You have a degree awarded by a UK University; or
  4. You have passed an approved English test (Trinity College London (TCL) Level B1 or the IELTS Life Skills Level B1 test).

To satisfy the English language requirement via an English test, you must pass the English test to Level B1 in speaking and listening (about 5 out of 10 in difficulty).

For more information about how you or any dependants applying with you can satisfy the English language or Life in the UK test requirements, call one of our British Citizenship Experts on 0203 178 2048 (or request a Call-Back above).

Since March 2019, the entire application process is now fully digital, and no specific application forms are needed. When the application is initially set up online, the correct category of UK Visa or citizenship must be selected to ensure that you are applying for the correct visa. Before the application process evolved to a fully digital process, the application forms needed to apply for ILR were as follows:

  • Form AN – This was used by adult applicants aged 18 or over to apply for naturalisation.
  • Form MN1 – This was the form used for child applicants under the age of 18 years old.

We are pleased to confirm that these forms are technically not appropriate anymore, and should you take advantage of our services, we can ensure that you apply correctly online so that the application is approved first-time.

As you will already have full access to financial (benefits) and NHS healthcare support paid for by the British government now that you have secured your ILR Visa, EEA Permanent Residence, or European Settled Status, you are not required to pay the NHS Surcharge when applying for British citizenship (aka Naturalisation).

For your information, you may find that the NHS Surcharge is sometimes stated as the Immigration Health Surcharge (or IHS), so do not be confused, as they are just different ways of saying the same thing.

Since it is not a simple process for the UK government to remove your British citizenship once granted to you, the UKVI will never be rushed into making a decision. As a result, a Priority Service has never been available to applicants applying for British citizenship.

The only service available is the UKVI’s Standard Service, which could take up to 6 months for you to receive a decision. Based on our vast experience, the typical processing time for a successful British citizenship application is about 3-months.

If you have tried applying yourself without expert assistance and find yourself in the unfortunate situation of receiving your British citizenship application back refused, we would recommend the following:

  • Call one of our British Citizenship Experts immediately, and they can thoroughly assess your situation and confirm the best options available to you to turn this situation around ASAP.
  • As no appeal process or administrative review is allowed, you will have lost the government fees you have paid and will be required to re-apply once you have corrected the issues to justify refusing your previous application.
  • Re-apply ASAP (once you qualify for citizenship) by submitting a perfectly presented and argued application to ensure your British citizenship application is successful.

If you recently received your citizenship application back refused, we recommend you call one of our British Citizenship Experts to see how they can assist you, or submit a call-back request on this page, and they will call you instead.

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