Criminal Laws

What is British naturalisation?

British naturalisation is the name of the process you will have to go through in order to become a British citizen. You can begin your process of naturalisation if you already have permanent residency in the UK. To have permanent residency, or ‘indefinite leave to remain’, you must have lived in the UK for at least five years and have submitted an application to the Home Office. Your application must be formally accepted in writing in order for you to hold permanent residency. After your permanent residency application has been accepted you will have to wait one year before you are able to apply for British citizenship.

British citizenship for adults

Becoming a British citizen has a lot of benefits, including being able to apply for a British passport, having the right to vote in the UK and having unrestricted entry in and out of the UK. In order to be granted British citizenship as an adult you will have to meet certain requirements. These include:

  • Being of “good character”, meaning you have no recent or serious criminal record, you have not used deception in any previous visa applications, and you have not committed any immigration offences in the last ten years
  • Being aged 18 or over
  • Having met the English language requirements
  • Having passed the Life in the UK test
  • Having a plan to continue to live in the UK once you are granted citizenship

You will also have to prove that you:

  • Have lived legally in the UK for at least five consecutive years before you apply
  • Have spent less than 450 days outside the UK in the past five years
  • Have spent less than 90 days outside the UK in the past year
  • Have held indefinite leave to remain or settled status for the past year

To prove that you meet all the requirements you will have to provide the Home Office with evidence of your identity, lawful residence in the UK and employment in the UK. You will also have to provide your biometric information, which includes fingerprints and photos.

You will usually get a response from the Home Office within four weeks confirming that your application has been received, but their decision on whether the grant you citizenship can take six months or more to come through. If you are successful, you will have to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you will be given a certificate of British citizenship.

British citizenship for children

It is possible to apply for British citizenship on behalf of a child. The process for doing so is called “registering a child”, and can be done at the same time as you apply for your own citizenship or at a different time. As with adult citizenship, becoming a child citizen comes with its benefits, including:

  • Being able to vote when they reach 18
  • Having full access to NHS healthcare for free
  • Being able to work without restrictions once they are old enough to get a job
  • Being able to apply for a British passport

Again, as is the case with adult citizenship applications, in order to register a child for British citizenship there are certain requirements which need to be met. These are as follows:

  • They are under 18 years old when the application is made
  • They are considered to be of “good character” if they are over 10 years old, which means they haven’t committed any crimes or posed a threat to society
  • They are free of restrictions to be in the UK

Your nationality and immigration status, as well as your child’s other parent’s nationality and immigration status, will be taken into account when the Home Office are considering your child’s registration application. Usually, you either both have to be British citizens or one of you a citizen and the other have settled status or indefinite leave to remain.

When you can apply for a British passport

If any of the below apply to your situation, you may be eligible to apply for a British passport:

  • You have become a British citizen through naturalisation
  • You are an overseas or overseas territories British citizen
  • You are a British subject
  • You are a British national living overseas
  • You are considered a ‘protected person’

If you are applying for British citizenship through naturalisation or child registration, you can apply for a British passport as soon as you receive confirmation of your status from the Home Office.

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