People all over the world want to move to the UK. However, moving to the western European country is just the beginning of a long journey to getting British citizenship.
If you enter the UK legally and stay long enough, you can become a permanent resident. The next step after becoming a permanent resident is to apply for citizenship.
However, aside from permanent residency, there are other ways to become a British citizen. You can find out all about becoming a UK citizen in this WorldTravelPride post.
What Is British Citizenship?
British citizenship, also known as naturalization, makes you become a full citizen of the United Kingdom. You will receive a British passport and can partake in social activities such as voting.
Although holders enjoy similar benefits, British citizenship is different from a permanent residency – indefinite leave to remain. However, most times, you’ll need first to be a permanent resident before you can apply to become a British citizen.
You can apply for British citizenship in different ways, depending on your eligibility. Notably, you can be eligible to apply in more than one way.
In such a situation, you should choose the option that maximizes your chances of success. You can always consult the services of British citizenship lawyers to help.
Becoming a British citizen doesn’t necessarily mean forfeiting your previous citizenship. The UK allows dual citizenship.
However, your home country may not allow dual citizenship. This means you can lose your home citizenship when you become a British citizen. Hence, you must weigh your choices.
Eligibility Requirements for UK Citizenship
You can be eligible for British citizen via any of the below options:
British Citizenship by Birth
The UK doesn’t issue automatic citizenship to anyone born in the country. Therefore, if you were born in the UK, don’t assume you’re a British citizen. However, you can still apply later on.
Your eligibility to apply depends on the date you were born and your parents’ circumstances. For example, if you were born on or after 1st January 1983, you can apply if you’re not up to 18 and any of your parents became British citizens or permanent residents after birth.
You can check the UK Home Office website for intricate details of the date timeline. Generally, you can apply for British citizenship by birth if you were born in and have lived in the UK for over ten years.
Typically, living in the UK for up to 5 years makes you eligible for indefinite leave to remain and, subsequently, British citizenship.
UK Citizenship by Marriage
Getting married to or entering into a civil partnership with a British citizen makes you eligible to apply for British citizenship.
To qualify, however, you must have lived together in the UK for up to three years. You must also first obtain permanent resident status. You can apply with settled status under the Settlement Scheme if you’re from the EU.
Notably, UK citizenship by marriage is one of the simplest among the different ways.
UK Citizenship by Settled Status
If you are a British permanent resident with indefinite leave to remain status or a permanent resident under the EU Settlement Scheme, you can apply for UK citizenship.
If you have indefinite leave to remain status, you must have lived in the UK for at least twelve consecutive months after acquiring your status.
Following Brexit, becoming a British citizen via the EU Settlement Scheme ceased in June 2021. Nevertheless, according to the UK Home Office, you can still apply if you have reasonable reasons for not meeting the deadline.
British Citizenship by Descent
If you have a British parent, your chances of becoming a British citizen are incredibly high. If you were born to a British parent, within or outside the UK, you automatically become a British citizen.
However, it’s possible that your parent did not become a British citizen until after your birth – if they were on indefinite leave to remain or another residential status when you were born.
In such situations, you can still apply, and you’ll qualify depending on the date you were born.
Required Documents For British Citizenship
The requirements you need to provide will depend on how you want to become a British citizen. Here’s a rundown of the documents you may need:
- Proof of indefinite leave to remain if you’re applying for citizenship by settled status.
- Proof that you’ve lived in the UK for the number of years or months necessary for your citizenship route.
- Proof of your knowledge of English.
- Proof that you passed the life in the UK test.
- Proof of marriage or civil partnership if you’re applying for citizenship by marriage.
- Proof that your parents or parent are/is a British citizen if you’re applying for citizenship by descent.
- Proof that you were born in the UK if you’re applying for citizenship by birth.
The above is an overview of the documents you need to provide. You must note that the UK Home Office will request a lot of documentation.
For example, you may need to submit multiple documents as proof that you are legally married or in a civil partnership with your spouse, who is a British citizen.
Furthermore, the Life in the UK test and knowledge of English are notable requirements.
Life in the UK test
For the Life in the UK, you can apply with a valid passport, a valid travel document with a photo, a biometric residence permit, or a biometric residence card. It depends on your status in the UK.
Based on the Life in the UK handbook, the test shows how much you know about living in the UK. As a result, you need to buy and read the book, which costs £12.99.
Also, to pass the test, you need a score of at least 75%. But if you fail the test, you can reapply and retake it after seven days. You can take the test as many times as you need to pass.
You don’t have to take the Life in the UK test again if you already did it when you applied for indefinite leave to remain.
Knowledge of English
You’ll be able to live in the UK forever and enjoy all state benefits. Therefore, to become a British citizen, you must be able to speak English. The reason is that you have to be able to communicate well in the country.
If you’re from a country where English is the first language, like the US, Canada, or Australia, you don’t have to worry about meeting this requirement. Even if you’re not, you can still skip it if you’re from one of the countries that are on the UK exempt list.
If not, you must take and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from a government-approved test provider. You can take a test with any of the following providers:
- Trinity College London
- IELTS SELT Consortium
Reading, speaking, writing, and listening to English are all part of the test. It’s graded on a scale from 1 to 10, and you usually need at least a 6.5 score to pass.
UK Citizenship Processing Fees
Application for UK citizenship is relatively expensive. It costs £1,330 to apply for most routes. Notably, you won’t need to pay any fee to submit your biometrics during your application.
Children not up to 18 may be able to apply and get a citizenship application fee waiver.
British Citizenship Application Procedure
You can apply for British citizenship online or by post. However, it’s best to apply online so that the UK Home Office will receive your application fast – on the same day. If you apply by post, it may take a few days for them to receive and begin processing your application.
Due to the value of British citizenship, the application takes long to process. The UK Home Office will consider all factors to ensure you are qualified beyond doubt to become a British citizen. As a result, the application takes up to 6 months – most times, it takes longer.
If your application is successful, you’ll have to organize a citizenship ceremony with your council. Afterward, you can apply for a British passport.
Applying For a British passport
You can apply for a British passport if you are a British citizen. However, it’s not a right because, in some cases, your application can be turned down. Also, the government can withdraw your passport if you fault UK laws.
It takes around ten weeks after your application to get a UK passport. However, if you’re applying from outside the country, it may take longer. Hence, it’s advised that you file your application within UK’s borders.
Furthermore, the cost of your visa application varies depending on your circumstances and how you apply. The UK government’s Identity and Passport Service (IPS) accepts applications directly, and the procedure is simple.
After applying, you can track your application to keep up with the processing. For that, you’ll only need your application number.
Any British citizen over eighteen years requesting a passport for the first time must appear in person for an interview with IPS to verify their identity.
Avoid being duped by businesses or websites that offer to help you obtain a British passport. They can’t even pretend to speed up the procedure for you.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a British Citizen
Many people around the world aspire to obtain British citizenship because British nationality provides many benefits. When you become a citizen of the UK, you can anticipate the following.
The right to live in the UK permanently
You can move to the U.K. whenever you want and enjoy the benefits of settling there, such as being able to buy property, work, open a bank account, get married in the U.K., and more.
The National Health Service in the UK has been around since 1948 and is one of Europe’s most prominent health organizations. It gives free health care and treatment to every resident in the UK. You get access to this free healthcare as a British citizen.
Freedom to work
No work permit is required for UK citizens to work in the country. They’re eligible for all of the government’s employment assistance programs.
Economic and social stability
The British pound is a dependable and powerful currency. The UK economy has proven surprisingly resilient even during a global financial crisis.
Discrimination and sexual harassment are outlawed in the United Kingdom, which has a stable government and a moderate population. Hence, as a US citizen, you enjoy economic and social stability.
Eligibility to get a British passport
When you become a citizen of the UK, you can apply for a British passport. That implies that immigration restrictions won’t apply to you anymore.
Eligibility to vote
Full civic rights, such as voting in a parliamentary, local, or European election, are available to all UK-born and naturalized citizens.
You now have a say in how the nation is governed. However, note that you must be listed on the electoral register, also referred to as the register of electors, to vote.
Eligibility to hold public office
The majority of British nationals over the age of 18 are eligible to run for public office. However, members of the armed services, civil officials, and those convicted of certain criminal acts are all exempt from holding public offices.
Undoubtedly, becoming a UK citizen comes with many benefits. You can weigh your chances of getting a successful application with the information in this post.