British Citizenship by Naturalisation
If you are holding or have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain or have acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation. In order to be naturalised as a British citizen, you will need to meet certain statutory criteria:
- You are over 18 years old
- You were in the UK on the day five years before the date of your application
- You have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five-year period
- You have spent less than 90 days outside of the UK in the last 12 months (unless married to a British citizen)
- You are of good character and sound mind
- You have sufficient knowledge of English language and have passed a Life in the UK test
- You have not broken any immigration laws whilst in the UK
If you are married to a British citizen or they have settled status, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen if:
- You were in the UK on the day three years before the date of your application
- You have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the intervening three-year period
- You have not been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time during the three-year period
If your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen, you can apply to naturalise as soon as you are granted settlement and satisfy all of the other requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation.
Good character requirement
The good character requirement is an important element in any application for British Citizenship by Naturalisation. Even relatively minor incidents such as driving offences and failure to pay council tax can be taken into account and lead to an adverse decision. Consideration must be given to all aspects of a person’s character including negative factors such as criminality, immigration law breaches and deception; and positive factors such as the contributions a person has made to society. You will be required to submit details in your application of any cautions, drink-driving offences and road traffic offences, civil judgments, civil penalties for illegal working and, if you have been declared bankrupt at any time, details of the bankruptcy proceedings. While full disclosure is mandatory, not all convictions may be taken into account when your application is being processed, for example where the conviction is considered ‘spent’. This may affect when you are able to submit your application.
Flexibility in the criteria for British Citizenship by Naturalisation
The Secretary of State has a discretion in some instances to treat applicants for UK Citizenship as meeting some of the requirements even where those requirements are not met.
These can include cases where there have been excess absences due to compassionate and exceptional circumstances, or due to requirements of business or employment.
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