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Applying for British Citizenship

Once you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, permanent residence or ‘settled status’ as a foreign national, you may want to apply for British citizenship. This will enable you to live and work in the UK free of immigration controls. There are various eligibility requirements for a British citizenship application; you will need to have passed the Life in the UK British citizenship test and have sufficient knowledge of the English language.

At Thorntons, our specialist immigration lawyers can explain the UK citizenship process to you and help you with your application.

Frequently asked questions

Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions on British citizenship.

It can be. Naturalisation is granted to people of another nationality to become a British citizen. However, not every British citizen has been naturalised, in other words gone through the naturalisation process, as they may be British citizens by birth. 

As a British citizen, you would not be subject to immigration controls and you would be free to live and work in the UK. You would be able to apply for a British passport and have rights such as access to benefits and the NHS, and be able to vote.

Depending on your original nationality, you may decide against applying for naturalisation as a British citizen as some nationalities do not allow dual citizenship.  In this regard, you will need to check with your embassy or consulate.  In all other circumstances, you will have dual nationality when you obtain British citizenship.

To be eligible to apply for British citizenship you have to meet certain requirements, including:

  • Proving you have been settled in the UK for at least a year (in some exceptional cases, you can apply before that, for example if you are married to a British citizen you can apply straight after obtaining settlement in the UK)
  • Meeting the good character requirements and absence requirements
  • Having the required knowledge of the English language
  • Passing the Life in the UK test

There are different routes to applying for British citizenship, for example it could be because you have been granted indefinite right to remain, you are married to a British citizen, depending on your circumstances of your birth in the UK or abroad or perhaps you are “stateless”. The right route for you depends on your circumstances and Thorntons immigration solicitors can advise you on the most suitable option for you.

Before you apply, you have to have passed the Life in the UK test on UK traditions, values, history and everyday life.

You can apply for UK citizenship yourself or a representative or agent can apply for you.  The application can be filed online on the UK Government website. You will then be asked to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and digital photograph) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point.

If you are applying from within the UK, you have to supply all supporting documents before your biometric appointment. If you are applying from outside the UK, the process is slightly different.

If you are 18 or over and your application is successful, you will then need to attend a citizenship ceremony. At the ceremony you will take an oath or affirmation of allegiance and a pledge to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK, and will be presented with your certificate of British citizenship.

We can guide you through the process or act as your representative during the British citizenship application process.

You will usually get a decision on your application within six months, although some applications can take longer.

Process costs for naturalisation applications include:

  • £50 to sit the Life in the UK test
    You can take the test as many times as you need, but you will have to pay the fee each time.£1,330 for the British citizenship application as an adult; which includes £80 for your citizenship ceremony
  • £19.20 to have your biometric information taken
    Biometric information is your fingerprints and a digital photo of your face. You will be told where to go for your biometrics once you have submitted your application.
  • Any fees to your representative or agent if you have one

Costs are current as of April 2020. For up-to-date application costs check the UK Government website.

You will not be able to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal, however you can apply for your application refusal to be reviewed.  This review will be submitted by way of an application to the Home Office seeking for the decision to refuse your application for British citizenship to be reviewed.  There is a fee payable for this reconsideration application to the Home Office, currently £372 which will be returned (less the citizenship ceremony fee where appropriate) if the application for review is successful, with the decision reversed and your citizenship application being approved.  The grounds for review are limited.  Expert immigration law legal advice can help you find out why your application was unsuccessful and what you need to do for the best outcome. We can help with support and advice on what you need to do. 

How can Thorntons help?

Our expert Immigration team is highly experienced in all aspects of visa and immigration issues. We can help you through the whole process of applying for citizenship, from discussing the best route for your circumstances and ensuring you have all the supporting evidence for your application through to the application process itself. We can also handle the application for you as your representative if you wish.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about our immigration services, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.