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The UK’s Most Trusted British Citizenship Consultancy
With over 12 years’ experience and more than 4,000 UK naturalisation approvals secured, we have steadily built First Migration’s reputation as one of the most trusted immigration consultancies in the world. As you can see from our Trustpilot reviews, we have an industry-leading reputation for always securing British Citizenship approvals, while providing our clients with a five-star service.
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 who are 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 freely live and work in the UK, 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 a minimum of 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, then you can consider making an application. 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. This means 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 bene 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 differs slightly depending on whether or not you are the partner of a British citizen. It’s important to make sure 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 will need to 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 there are circumstances that raise doubts about your intention. Such circumstances could include:
- Having a partner who currently lives or plans to live outside the UK.
- Recently being absent from the UK for a period of 6 months or longer.
Where such circumstances occur, you will need to 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 on 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
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that you possess the ability to 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 where it is 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 will need to 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, make sure to 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 majority English speaking countries are available in our knowledge centre.
How to Apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation
The application process when applying for British Citizenship via naturalisation is now fully digital, which has greatly simplified 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, details about any dependants as well as providing 2 references (one personal and one professional)
- Pay the application fee: This is £1,330 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 prior to 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 you will be presented with a certificate of British citizenship. You are now officially a British citizen
Following your attendance at the citizenship ceremony, you will then be able to apply for a British Passport. Separate fees apply.
How much will it cost to apply for British Citizenship
The total costs for all government fee charges for naturalisation are as follows:
- The Home Office Spouse Visa Government fee* = £1,330 per adult applicant for a Standard Service processing time application (which takes between 3 – 6 months to secure the approval from the date of the biometric appointment). Please note that there is no Priority Service available when applying for British Citizenship.
- The Biometric Fee = £19.20 per applicant. Even though you may need to pay for a biometric appointment if you want one within the next 3-4 weeks, the Home Office still charge £19.20 per applicant to process their biometric data.
- The Biometric appointment fee = this fee ranges from a free appointment (if you wait 3 weeks+) up to £260 per applicant for an appointment at the Premium Service Centre in Central London. For your information, the most typical fee paid for an average appointment across the UK is about £100 per applicant.
- The government fees stated above total £1,349.20 per adult applicant for the Standard Service (plus the biometric appointment fees which have not been included as the prices vary).
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Since March 2019, the entire application process is now fully digital, and there are no specific application forms 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 the form used by adult applicants aged 18 years old 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.
Do you have to pay the NHS Surcharge/Immigration Health Surcharge when applying for British Citizenship?
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, there has never been a Priority Service available to applicants applying for British citizenship.
The only service available is the UKVI’s Standard Service which means it 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 there is no appeal process or administrative review allowed, you will have lost the government fees you have paid and will be required to re-apply once you have corrected the issues used 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 have recently received your citizenship application back refused, we would 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.