UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

Overview

We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK Citizenship, also known as Naturalisation.

There are several different routes to obtaining citizenship, however the normal route is through residence in the UK. In most cases, applicants should already have obtained UK permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The normal qualifying period to obtain ILR is 5 years.

For those who have obtained ILR through 5 years residence, they are then required to live in the UK for a further 1 year before being eligible to apply for UK citizenship.

But if you are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen then you can apply for citizenship straightaway after securing ILR, without waiting for a further 1 year. It doesn’t matter if the UK citizen has only recently become a UK citizen.

EEA applicants for UK citizenship

Citizens of EEA Member States and their family members follow a different path to UK citizenship. Such applicants do not usually apply for ILR in the UK.

Instead, they need to apply for UK permanent residence through EEA law. Or they can apply for Settled Status.

Either way, EEA applicants and their family members need to be living in the UK for 6 years in total. The first 5 years are to be granted Settled Status or permanent residence. Then, the remaining 1 year is required between permanent residence and UK citizenship.

Also, the date of the issue of the EEA permanent residence is not the key date when working out the additional one year. A successful permanent residence applicant will also be issued a letter to confirm their “acquired date”. The applicant needs to wait 1 additional year after this date (unless or course they are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen).

Absences from the UK in the qualifying period

The main residence requirement for citizenship is that the applicant has been living in the UK throughout the qualifying period. All absences from the UK need to be declared in the application. The Home Office will of course disregard short absences for annual leave every year or for business trips.

However, to be sure of satisfying the residence requirements for citizenship, you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. Additionally the total number of day’s absence for the whole 5 year period should not exceed 450.

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen the total number of day’s absence for the whole 3 year period should not exceed 270.

There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits however such decisions need to be taken by a senior case officer.

The official guidance issued to Home Office case officers clearly states;

“The main purposes of the residence requirements are to allow an applicant to demonstrate close links with, and commitment to, the United Kingdom, and to enable the Home Secretary to assess the strength of that commitment and the applicant’s suitability on other grounds (e.g. character).”

The guidance also states that on reviewing absences the discretion should be considered;

“only when we are satisfied that applicants have genuinely thrown in their lot with the United Kingdom and meet the other requirements.”

Applicants should obtain specialist advice if applying though such discretion on excess absences. A careful presentation on absences and mitigating circumstances would need to be made. We have successfully assisted many applicants with this issue in the past.

Presence in the UK at the start of the qualifying period

One of most overlooked requirements when applying for citizenship is that the applicant needs to have been physically present in the UK – exactly 5 years to the day prior to applying for citizenship.

So, for example if you apply for citizenship on 3 January 2019 then you must have been in the UK on 3 January 2014. This is a statutory requirement and there is no way around this.

Those married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen need to have been physically present in the UK – exactly 3 years to the day prior to applying for citizenship.

Good Character

The Home Office expects applicants for citizenship to be of good character.

Applicants need to be very careful in relation to any criminal convictions when applying for citizenship.

In short, an applicant usually cannot have any “unspent convictions” when applying for citizenship. Most convictions become “spent” after a set period of time passes. This has proved a major hindrance for many applicants who may only have been convicted of a minor offence.

Even a minor offence that is recorded on your criminal record can prove an impediment to applying for citizenship within 3 years.

Even if a conviction has become spent, that does not mean it will automatically be disregarded.

Please contact us, in strictest confidence, if you have a criminal conviction that you wish us to assess in relation to applying for citizenship.

Also, the Home Office may conduct checks into an applicant’s financial background to see that they pay tax and National Insurance.

All civil proceedings resulting in a court order or any bankruptcy proceedings also need to be declared.

Furthermore, any deception in any previous immigration application or being in breach of immigration law in the past can also be considered as part of the good character assessment.

Life in the UK Test

Unless exempt through age or disability, applicants need to sit the Life in the UK Test before applying for UK citizenship. This is available at centres throughout the UK and is designed to test applicants’ knowledge of UK society, history, politics and government.

The test is not seen as particularly onerous – however applicants should take some time to prepare and read the recommended text book on “Life in the UK”.

English language requirement

All applicants need to meet an English language requirement, unless exempt through age or disability. This can be met by;

  • Passing a specified English language test at Level B1
  • Showing you have a degree qualification conducted through English
  • Showing you are a citizen of an English-speaking country

If you are taking a specified English language test then make sure the test you take is on the current approved list. The list does change from time to time.

It is possible to meet the English language requirement by showing you have a degree (including Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees) that was conducted in English. Some other qualifications can also be accepted such as a Postgraduate Diploma, but these need to be checked.

Citizens of the following countries are exempt from the English language test;

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia

The Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Canada

Dominica

Grenada

Guyana

Jamaica

New Zealand

Republic of Ireland

St Kitts and Nevis

St Lucia

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Trinidad and Tobago

USA

 Legislative change on those born abroad to British born mothers

New citizenship rules were introduced in January 2010 to applicants who were born abroad to British born mothers.

These changes, introduced through the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, mainly affect those born outside the UK to British mothers before 1961. Such individuals can now apply for registration as “British citizens by descent”.

This redresses the anomaly in the system which allowed those born to British born fathers to apply for citizenship but not those born to British born mothers.

These applications can take some time to be processed. Although applied for in the UK, applicants in this category do not have to be resident in the UK or travel to the UK.

Legislative change on those born to a British father not married to the mother

Before July 2006 UK citizenship could not be passed on by a British citizen father in the situation where the father was not married to the mother when the child was born.

If the parents later married, then the child subsequently was considered a British citizen.

The law was amended to allow citizenship to pass from a British born father, where the parents were not married – if the child was born after July 2006.

Additionally, it is now possible for children born before July 2006 to be registered as British citizens.

Dual citizenship

The UK government does not require you to give up your present citizenship or nationality to become a UK citizen. Under UK law, you are permitted to retain dual nationality and carry a UK passport and the passport of another country.

However, many countries will not let you have dual nationality. If you become a UK citizen and you are also a citizen of a country which does not allow dual nationality, the government of that country may either regard you as having lost that nationality or may refuse to recognise your new nationality.

This is something that many applicants are unaware of and do not check this beforehand. If you are in any doubt before you apply for UK citizenship you should check the position with your country’s Embassy.

Children

There are many different routes for children to apply for registration as UK citizens. This is separate to the usual residence requirements for adults.

Children may be eligible to apply for registration in the following circumstances;

  • Children born to a parent who has obtained ILR or permanent residence
  • Children born abroad to parents who are British by descent and who are now living in the United Kingdom
  • Children born before 1 July 2006 whose father is a British citizen but not married to their mother
  • Children adopted abroad by parents who are British citizens
  • where it is considered to be in the child’s best interests to be granted British citizenship

Please contact us if you have a child who you wish to be assessed for UK citizenship. The rules relating to children are complex and have been subject to many changes. Different criteria often apply depending on the child’s date of birth and the relevant legislation in force at that time.

Approval of UK Citizenship

Successful applicants for UK citizenship receive a Certificate of Citizenship which then allows them to apply for a UK passport. Citizenship can only be removed in exceptional circumstances where fraud is uncovered in an application or for serious criminal offences.

Our UK citizenship service

We have many years experience in securing UK citizenship for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, allow you to “become British” and receive the full protection rights and privileges of a UK passport.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish.  The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statement, submission to the authorities and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your citizenship is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect.

At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

We can then review in full and get back to you

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