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British Citizenship

British Citizenship provides an individual with the right to live and work in the UK permanently without any restrictions. British citizenship can be obtained automatically by birth, by registering as a British citizen by entitlement/discretion or by naturalisation after obtaining indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

British Citizenship by Naturalisation

In order to be eligible to naturalise as a British Citizen, the applicant must normally satisfy a range of criteria including immigration status, length of residence in the UK, future intentions, knowledge of the English language and life in the UK as well as good character. The applicants would need to satisfy the following general criteria.

  • Spent at least 5 years of continuous residence in the UK with no longer than 450 days of absence from the UK during that period
  • Not been absent for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of application
  • Present in the UK on the day exactly 5 years before the date of application
  • Held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or free of Immigration restrictions in the UK for at least 12 months before the date of application
  • Meet the B1 CEFR level English language requirements (unless exempt).
  • Pass the Life in the UK Test or be exempt
  • Not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules
  • Be of good character and intend to continue living in the UK

If the applicant is the spouse of a British citizen at the time of application, then they can apply immediately after obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain and slightly different rules apply as summarised below.

  • Spent at least 3 years of continuous residence in the UK with no longer than 270 days of absence from the UK during that period
  • Present in the UK on the day exactly 3 years before the date of application
British Citizenship by Registration

This route is for those qualified either by way of entitlement or on a discretionary basis to apply for British Citizenship by registration. In order to be eligible to register as a British Citizen, the applicant may qualify in a number of permitted categories, the most common route being children under the age of 18 applying for registration. Children cannot apply to ‘naturalise’, but instead must apply to ‘register’ as British citizens.

In order to be eligible to register as a British Citizen by the way of entitlement, the child must satisfy one of the following requirements.

  • Born in the UK whose parent or parents become British or settled (must be applied for before the child turns 18)
  • Born in the UK who has lived in the UK continuously until the age of ten (including adults)

The Home Office may also register a child under the discretion and grant British citizenship. The applications are decided on individual merits and normally consider the child’s future intentions, the citizenship and immigration status of the child’s parents, the length of the child’s residence in the UK, whether or not the child is settled, parental consent and what is in the child’s best interests. The good character requirement applies to both types of registration and a high threshold applies to the discretionary registrations.

The child would need to make an application under MN1 form or Form T for registration and pay the required fees & complete the process.

British Citizenship for Stateless Child

This route is for those children born in the UK and has remained stateless to apply for British citizenship by registration. ‘Stateless person’ means someone who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.

In order to be eligible to register as a British Citizen, the stateless child must satisfy the following requirements.

  • Born in the UK
  • Have always been & remain stateless
  • Under the age of 22 on the date of the application
  • Have lived in the UK for the five years prior to the making of the application

The Schedule 2 of the British Nationality Act 1981 provides the statutory confirmation that a person who is stateless can be registered as a British Citizen if they meet the above conditions. In addition to this, in the case of MK (India) Statelessness EWHC [2017] 1365 (Admin), the high court has reaffirmed this position. The court also confirmed that the fact that a child can apply for ‘Indian citizenship’ is irrelevant. The applicant is expected to provide evidence that they are not national of any other country in order to ensure statutory evidence requirements are met.

How can we assist?

Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting clients on obtaining British Citizenship. We carefully assess each of our client’s circumstances to ensure that the eligibility requirements are met & identify any potential issues with the application. We are a multi-award-winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to providing clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the Citizenship application process take?

British nationality applications are decided by the Home Office normally within six months. Applicants will need to attend a Citizenship Ceremony to receive the Naturalisation certificate and then apply for a British passport.

What are the eligibility criteria for British citizenship by birth?

British nationality is not automatically granted to all children born in the UK. In order to be born British, parent of a child born in the UK must be either a British national or hold ILR/settled status.

How many Referees do I need to have for the application?

The applicant must normally provide two referees as part of the nationality application. One must be a person of professional standing and the other one a British citizen, both aged at least 25 years old.

Does the UK support dual citizenship?

UK law permits multiple citizenships and there is no requirement to renounce previous nationalities, as dual citizenship is allowed in the UK. It is however worth checking the national laws of the other country you are looking to continue or holding the nationality as they may have a different criteria.

Can my adopted child get British Citizenship?

If a child is adopted by a British citizen who is in the UK, the child will automatically become British from the date of the adoption and there is no need for registration and can apply for a passport straight away. If a child is adopted in another country then that country’s own adoption laws will apply. The adoption will not necessarily be recognised in other countries, including the UK. If the adoption is not recognised in the UK then the child will not automatically become British.
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