So you’re wondering how to become a UK citizen? While the process isn’t necessarily quick or easy, it doesn’t need to be complicated.
There are a few different paths you can take and requirements that you need to meet. Here, we’ll guide you through the steps you need to take to get UK citizenship. We’ll give you an overview of documents you may need and what qualifies you to become a UK citizen.
Different forms of British Nationality
Although there are many forms of British Nationality, British Citizenship is the only one that allows you to live and work in the UK without a visa. Other forms of British nationality are:
- British protected person
- British overseas territories citizenship
- British overseas citizenship
- British national (overseas)
- British subject
If one of these British nationalities (other than citizenship) already applies to you, then you may become a naturalized British citizen by presenting proof of your status.
General UK Citizenship Requirements
If you do not have some form of British nationality, then the steps for citizenship are a little different. Here are the general requirements:
- You need to be a legal adult (over the age of 18).
- You’ll have to prove that you’re someone of “good character.” This usually means that you can’t have committed a major felony. For more information on what immigration officials consider good character, here is the UK government’s policy guide.
- Proof of residency. You need to have three years of continuous residence in the UK before the date of applying. This means you should already have some kind of long-term visa (such as for work or study).
- Other residency requirements include: Not spending more than 270 days outside of the UK during this time; not spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in the year before applying, and you have been law-abiding during the 3-year period.
- Prove that you meet the English language requirements
- Pass the “Life in the UK” test. This refers to things like Traditions and cultures from around the UK, Events and people that have shaped the UK’s history, UK government, and law, etc.
There are exceptions to these rules, as well as other situations that may come into play. If you’ve already been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (you can usually do this after five years of residency), are a European Economic Area (EEA) national, or your spouse is a UK citizen, then you may have different requirements than what’s listed above.
Complete the Official Forms
If you meet the general requirements above, you should start gathering proof of these things for the citizenship forms you will need to fill out.
For example, you will need a birth certificate proving you are over the age of 18. Other forms of ID you may need include a Passport issued by your current country of residence or driver’s license proving your identity. If you are married to a UK citizen, make sure you can prove a legally recognized ceremony with a marriage certificate.
Depending on your situation, you may need more or less of these items. If you don’t have valid proof, you’ll need to see how you can get it.
There are services you can use to help you through this process or apply on your own.
Services include using a National Checking Service (NCS) or using an agent or representative. These representatives must be registered through the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
If you are applying on your own, you need to fill out form AN, preferably online. Mail is an option but will take much longer, and in-person options are delayed due to COVID-19.
As we mentioned, there are tests associated with becoming a UK citizen. You should prepare to pass this test, which includes knowing the UK’s history, laws, and customs.
Another part of the “life in the UK” test includes proving that you have a firm grasp of English.
To help prepare, you’ll need to make sure that you know test-ready English. Even if English is your second language, and you feel you have a firm grasp, many excellent speakers can’t pass a test using formal English rules. This is where a test prep service can help you.
You can bypass this requirement by providing proof of English language knowledge, like a University Degree from a program conducted in English.
When filling out the citizenship application, there are associated costs and fees you need to be aware of. The application costs £1,330. You can find more information about those costs here.
Part of the application process includes providing biometric information (fingerprints and photos). This will cost £19.20.
If you find you are missing required documentation, associated costs can go up. For example, if you need to renew or get an ID from your current country of citizenship, you will have to pay.
You’re Almost There
Once you’ve chosen whether you’ll be working on your application alone or with a representative, you can fill out your form and wait for a decision.
This is the hard part as it usually takes six months or longer. You may find out at the end of this time that you are missing information and need to provide additional documentation. While this can be frustrating most of the hard stuff is over.
Once you have confirmed that you’ve successfully gained UK citizenship, you will attend a citizenship ceremony.
You will make the UK oath of allegiance (or an affirmation if you prefer not to swear by God) and a pledge at the ceremony. This means you promise to respect “the rights, freedoms, and laws” of the United Kingdom.
At the end of the ceremony, the local authorities will provide you with your certificate of British citizenship and a welcome pack. Some locations are allowing virtual ceremonies due to the pandemic. If you attend a virtual ceremony, you’ll be sent a copy of your certificate in the mail.
The path to UK citizenship isn’t short, but it can be straightforward. If you go in well-researched, well-prepared, and focused, you can follow these steps and become a UK citizen.