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How to apply for British citizenship

If you’ve been living in the UK or have a British spouse, you might be thinking about applying for British citizenship. Having British nationality affords you plenty of opportunities, including the right to live, work and settle down in the UK permanently. Continue reading to discover:

  • Criteria for becoming a UK citizen.
  • Different ways to apply for British citizenship.
  • How long it takes to get British citizenship.

What are the requirements for applying for British citizenship?

You can apply for British citizenship through naturalisation, marriage or civil partnership by filling out a ‘Form AN’ or AN Form. As you’ll discover, you may be eligible to apply for UK citizenship through several routes. Depending on your circumstances, one method may be easier than another. Before you begin your application, you’ll need to have the following:

  • A ‘Life in the UK Test’ certificate with your pass reference number.
  • Two referees who have known you for at least three years.
  • Proof of your English language knowledge with a qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level or degree taught in English.

One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing, such as a journalist or doctor. The other must be the holder of a British passport and either a professional person or over the age of 25. 

Becoming a British citizen through naturalisation 

There are five basic requirements you’ll need to meet before you fill out your ‘Form AN’ for naturalised British citizenship. Naturalisation is the legal process by which a person changes their nationality. If you’re unmarried or not in a civil partnership, becoming a British citizen through naturalisation is the best option. To apply for British nationality, you must:

  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Be of “good character”, i.e. not have any criminal convictions. 
  • Reside in the UK.
  • Meet the English language requirements.
  • Pass the “Life in the UK” test.

You’ll also need to satisfy the Home Office that:

  • You have been in the UK for five years prior to your application. 
  • You have not been outside the UK for more than 450 days during the same five-year period.
  • You will not be outside the UK for more than 90 days during the 12-month period after your application.
  • You are not subject to any limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK and have not been subject to any such time limit at any time during the 12-month period after your application.
  • The UK will be your principal home if your application is successful.

How much does it cost to apply for British citizenship through naturalisation?

It costs £1,330 (including an £80 fee for the citizenship ceremony) to apply for naturalised British citizenship. If you’re applying from a British overseas territory, such as Gibraltar and Bermuda, the fee is £1,000.

Becoming a British citizen through marriage or civil partnership

To apply as the wife, husband or civil partner of a British citizen, you must have lived in the UK for the last three years. You’ll also need to have one of the following:

  • Indefinite leave to remain (ILR). 
  • Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens.
  • An existing document confirming you have permanent residence status.

You can usually apply for either ILR or settled status after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.

To apply for citizenship with ILR, you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it. You can no longer apply for a permanent residence document after 2020, but existing documents remain valid.

How much does it cost to apply for British citizenship as a spouse?

It costs £1,300 to apply for British citizenship by marriage, plus an additional £19.20 to submit your biometric (photo and fingerprints) information. 

It’s worth remembering that you’ll also need to pay £50 for your language test and professional translation for documents not written in English or Welsh.

What documents do you need to apply for British citizenship? 

In addition to your application form, you’ll need to submit some supporting documents along with the correct fee. You’ll also need to indicate on the form what documents you have submitted and why. You should include one or more of the following documents:

  • Your passport.
  • A national identity card.
  • A Home Office travel document.
  • A Home Office entitlement card.
  • Home Office ARC letter.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • Your photo driving licence.
  • A bank, building society or credit card statement issued to you within the last 6 months. 

How long does it take to apply for UK citizenship?

You should receive a decision about your application within six months. Due to new post-Brexit rules, you can’t stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 while you wait for your citizenship decision. 

However, if you’re in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme or ILR, you can remain here throughout your application.

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