Apply for British Citizenship Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
How do I qualify?
Naturalisation is not an entitlement and a decision can only be made to grant you citizenship if you can demonstrate that you satisfy certain legal requirements and the Home Secretary thinks fit to naturalise you.
The requirements for naturalisation as a British citizen differ depending on whether or not you are applying on the basis of marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen. The qualifying period under marriage/civil partnership is 3 years or 5 years if applying otherwise.
What are the legal requirements I need to meet before applying?
The legal requirements are that you:
- Are aged 18 or over when you apply
- Are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen on the date of application (if applying under marriage/civil partnership route)
- Are of sound mind, so that you understand the step you are taking (but see the section on those who are not of sound mind)
- Can communicate in English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic) to an acceptable degree
- Have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK
- Are of good character
- Have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years (marriage/civil partnership) or 5 years (not applying under marriage/civil partnership route) before you apply and meet the following residence requirements:
In additon to the legal requirements there are residential requirements you must also meet:
What are the residence requirements?
- You must have been physically present in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands on the day 3 or 5 years before the application is received by the Home Office.
- You must not have had more than 270 days outside the UK in the 3 or 5-year period before making the application (but see the section on Absences).
- You must not have had more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12-month period before making the application, (but see the section on Absences).
- You must be free of immigration time restrictions on the date of application
- You must not have been in breach of the immigration rules in the 3 or 5-year period before making the application.
Some discretion may be exercised over excess absences and immigration breaches if there are special circumstances. If you do not meet these residence requirements but believe that there are special circumstances in your case, we can help you explain these when you apply.
In addtion to the above, there are several character and conduct requirements you must meet.
What are Breach(es) of immigration law?
To meet the residence requirements, you should not have been in breach of immigration law during the residential qualifying period. You should have been in the UK legally. This means you must have had the necessary permission under the immigration laws to be in the UK. You may be refused if you have been in breach of immigration laws during the residential qualifying period. This is especially relevant if you came to the UK as an asylum seeker and your application for refugee status and any appeals were refused during this period.
If you came to the UK as an asylum seeker and/or as an illegal entrant (for example if you entered the UK clandestinely) you must have evidence that you were here legally during the residential qualifying period. You may be in breach of immigration laws during the residential qualifying period if you had exhausted all your appeal rights and had not left the country, even if you were subsequently given indefinite leave to remain as a concession. If you were not covered by temporary leave to remain during the whole residential qualifying period while appeals were under consideration, then your application will fail on breach of immigration conditions.
Just because you were given indefinite leave to remain does not mean that you will automatically qualify. Contact us today for a free assessment of your case if you are concerned about possible breaches before you apply.
Any immigration offences will also be considered as part of the good character requirement. This includes immigration breaches in the 10 year period before you apply for naturalisation. This area is very complex. Speak to one of our advisors today.
What are Immigration time restrictions?
If you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you will need to be free from immigration time restrictions on the date you make your application.
If you are not married to or the civil partner of a British citizen you should have been free of immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the 5year qualifying period.
How many absences from the UK are permitted?
To satisfy the residence requirement you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, the total number of days absence for the whole 3-year period should not exceed 270. Otherwise, you should not have been outside the UK for more than 450 days in the 5-year qualifying period.
There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits. As part of the application process, our expert Immigration Lawyers will assess your absences and advise you of any potential or possible issues before you apply.
Why must I meet the Knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement?
Applying to become a citizen of the UK is an important decision and commitment. You will be agreeing to accept the responsibilities which go with citizenship and to respect the laws, values and traditions of the UK. It is important that you are able to communicate with the wider community and are equipped to play a part in
community life. Being able to speak English is a very important part of this and learning about Life in the UK will help you understand what it means to be a British citizen.
How can I satisfy the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement?
You satisfy this requirement if you:
- Have passed the Life in the UK test and either:
- Have a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, that is on the Home Office's list of recognised tests and was taken at an approved test centre
- Have a degree taken in the UK
- Have a degree certificate that was taught or researched in a majority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification
- Have a degree certificate that was taught or researched in a nonmajority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification and an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC showing that your degree was taught in English.
Our experts Immigration Solicitors are well versed in these requirements and are on hand to assess your eligibility before applying.
Exemption from the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement
If you are aged 65 or over or have a long term physical or mental condition that prevents you from meeting the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement, you may be exempt. Our expert Immigration Lawyers and Solicitors advise you if you can apply for an exemption and also help you apply.
What is the Good character requirement?
To be of good character you should have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observe its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK. Checks will be carried out to ensure that the information you give is correct.
If you are not honest about the information you provide, and you are registered on the basis of incorrect or fraudulent information you will be liable to have British citizenship taken away (deprivation) and you may be prosecuted. It is a criminal offence to make a false declaration knowing that it is untrue.
Among the duties and obligations which you are expected to fulfil is payment of income tax and National Insurance contributions. We may ask H.M. Revenue & Customs for confirmation that your tax and National Insurance affairs are in order.
If you do not pay income tax through PAYE you must demonstrate that you have discharged your obligations towards the H.M. Revenue & Customs, by attaching a Self Assessment Statement of Account.
You must give details of all criminal convictions both within and outside the UK.These include road traffic offences. If you are concerned about applying due to criminal convictions then speak to one of our experts today for an assessment before you apply.
Do I need to re-enrol my Biometric information?
Yes, as part of your application, all applicants are required to enrol their biometric details for the purpose of identity verification.
Children under 18 applying for registration as a British citizen must also enrol their biometric details. Children under the age of 6 do not need to provide fingerprints, but must have a digital photograph taken of their face.
Up to the age of 6 the Home Office only requires a digitised image of the child's face, although the regulation does not prevent fingerprints being recorded from children aged less than 6 years. There is no upper age limit for biometric information to be taken.
Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at their biometric enrolment appointment.
Where you give your biometric information depends on how you're making your visa or immigration application. You'll be told where to go after you've applied. Your application may be rejected as invalid if you do not enrol your biometrics when requested to do so.
I'm ready to apply. What supporting documents do I need?
Specific advice will be tailored depending on your circumstances but as a general rule of thumb you should provide:
Evidence of identity
- Your Biometric Residence Permit, and
- Your passport or
- National identity card or
- Home Office travel document* or
- Home Office entitlement card* or
- Home Office ARC letter* or
- Your birth certificate or
- Your photo driving licence* or
- A bank, building society or credit card statement issued to you within the last 6 months
* if you used any one of these documents when you took the Knowledge of Life in the UK test you will be expected to use it again by enclosing it with your naturalisation application.
Evidence of knowledge of language and of life in the UK
Please note that only English language qualifications from the Home Office approved list of acceptable qualifications are accepted. We can advise you on the specific requirements before you apply.
You will need to provide both:
- a letter confirming success in the Life in the UK Test, stamped and signed by the Test Supervisor,
- a Home Office approved qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, from the Secure English Language Test list. You must ensure that you state the test number in your application,
- a UK degree certificate,
- a degree certificate that was taught or researched in a majority English speaking country and:
- an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification
- A degree certificate that was taught or researched in a non-majority English speaking country and an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from UK NARIC confirming the qualification is equivalent to a UK qualification
- an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from UK NARIC showing that your degree was taught in English.
- Your passport showing that you are a national of a majority English speaking country
If you have a B1 level qualification that was accepted for the purposes of a settlement application, then you do not need to pass another English language test for your citizenship application.
If you seek exemption from this requirement on the grounds of age or poor physical and/or mental health then speak to one of our advisors today. If you wish to apply for exemption on grounds of poor physical or mental health you must provide evidence from your doctor or medical professional. This must include confirmation that this is not a temporary condition. We can advise you on the relevant forms and wording required from your medical practitioner.
Evidence of lawful residence during the 3 or 5 years qualifiying period before the date of the application
- Your passport(s)
- If you are unable to provide your passport explain why and supply letters from employers (including start and finish dates), payslips, P60s, educational establishments or other government departments indicating your
presence in the United Kingdom during the relevant period
For applicants from Switzerland or the European Economic Area
Evidence of Nationality
- Your valid passport or valid EEA national identity card as evidence of your nationality.
- Evidence that you are considered permanently resident in the UK
- A document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued by the Home Office.
- A document certifying settled status/indefinite leave to remain
Applications made on the basis of marriage or civil partnership to a British citizen
Evidence of British citizenship
- Your spouse's or civil partner's current passport or naturalisation/registration certificate showing that he/she is a British citizen. You should provide a complete and full copy of your spouse's or civil partner's current passport. Every page in the passport must be copied including the blank pages, and
- The marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate.
If you do not pay tax through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) arrangements, we require the most recent HM Revenue & Customs Self-Assessment Statement of Account.
Applications made on the basis of crown service or on the basis of marriage/civil partnership to a British citizen in crown or designated service
A letter from the relevant employer confirming date and place of recruitment, position held, and the extent to which it would be in the employer's interests for the application to be granted
If your application is successful and you are living in the UK, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony if you are over 18. You will receive an invitation from the Home Office and this will confirm the local authority you should contact to arrange your ceremony. We expect you to arrange to attend a ceremony within 3
months of receiving your invitation otherwise it will expire and you will have to reapply for registration and pay a further processing fee.
If you are outside the UK, arrangements will be made for you to make the oath/affirmation and pledge at the British Embassy, High Commission, Consulate, Governor's Office or Lieutenant Governor's Office.
If you are over the age of 18 when your application is decided, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony. At the ceremony, you will be asked to affirm or swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and to pledge your loyalty to the UK. Following this you will be presented with your certificate of registration as a British citizen.
How long does it take for a decison to be made?
Processing times fpr Naturalisation applications can vary greatly owing to the complexities involved. The UKVI's current published service standards for this trypoe of aplication is between 3-6 months.
Will the Home Office keep my original documents during the consideration process?
No, your original documents will be elctronically scanned and uploaded to the UKVI and then cross-referenced and verified during a pre-arranged Biometric enrollment appointment.
Can I travel whilst my application is under consideration?
Yes, you should be able to travel for work and leisure as normal. Although you should not make any firm travel plans until after you have enrolled your biometrics. You should also ensure that any travel coincides with the requirement to have been present in the UK, on the day 3 or 5 years (depending on the route under which you are applyuing) before the date of application. Speak to us about this if you are unsure so that we may assess your absences.