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Applying for British Citizenship

Many people choose to complete their UK immigration journey by becoming a British citizen and the holder of a British passport.

For an adult, to become a British citizen, they must first hold ‘settled status,’ which is also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’. It is a question of individual choice whether to apply to naturalise as a British citizen.  You do not need to become a British citizen to live permanently in the UK if you already hold permanent residence status. However, there are a number of benefits to holding British citizenship as discussed below.

It is always important to check if your country of origin permits dual nationality.  There are a number of countries who do not recognise dual nationality at all, for example China, and Malawi.  In the EU, most member states allow dual nationality, however a number of countries place restrictions on dual citizenship, including Austria and the Netherlands.  The UK allows dual nationality.

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 the name of the process that most adults go through to become a British citizen.  Children and a small number of adults will also go through a different process known as registration.

There are a number of benefits:-

  • You will no longer be subject to UK immigration control. There is a common misconception that holders of indefinite leave to remain are free of immigration control.  This is wrong. Indefinite leave to remain can be lost, if for example, the holder of this visa is outside the UK for more than 2 years at any one time.  Becoming a British citizen therefore provides the comfort of knowing that future changes to immigration law will not affect your ability to live and work in the UK, regardless of changes in your personal circumstances or the wider world.
  • You have the right to UK consular assistance abroad and to vote in UK parliamentary elections;
  • UK administrative processes can be simpler and more convenient as a British passport holder.  For example, in order to submit a driving licence application online, you must hold a British passport; non-British passport holders can only apply using a paper form.

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

  • Holding settled status/indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months. If you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you are eligible to apply as soon as you have obtained settled status or indefinite leave to remain
  • Meeting the good character requirements and absence requirements
  • Having the required knowledge of the English language or are exempt as you are over 65 or are exempt as you have a physical or mental condition which prevents you from meeting the requirement. You are deemed to have automatically met the English language test if you come from a majority English-language speaking country.
  • Passing the Life in the UK test, unless you are 65 or over 

An application can be filed online on here. 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.  You will be presented with your certificate of British citizenship, which you can use to apply for your first British passport.

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 which includes £80 for your citizenship ceremony.
  • £19.20 to have your biometric information taken.
    Costs are current as of March 2023. For up-to-date application costs check the UK Government website.

You will not be able to appeal the decision to the Immigration Tribunal.  However, you can apply for your refusal decision to be reconsidered. The reconsideration fee, currently £372, will be refunded (less the citizenship ceremony fee where appropriate) if the application for review is successful.  The decision would then be reversed and your citizenship application 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.

How can Thorntons help?

At Thorntons, we offer a range of British citizenship support services to support you with your application to become a British citizen.  

Consultation Service Package

You will receive an advice session as part of a fixed fee consultation service with an immigration specialist.  At the session, we will discuss the requirements for becoming a British citizen, assess and check your eligibility, answer any questions you have on the process and provide a follow-up summary email.  You can choose to either submit the application yourself or instruct us to support you further through our full representation service package.

Our initial, fixed fee consultation costs £350 plus VAT. If you are based overseas, then you may not be charged VAT. If you choose to use our full representation service within three months of the initial consultation package, then we will discount 50% of the cost of the initial consultation service from the cost of future work instructed under the Representative Service Package.

We offer in person consultations with immigration specialists at our DundeeEdinburgh and Glasgow Offices, over Zoom or by your preferred video platform.  To arrange a consultation, please call 03330 430350 or complete our online enquiry form.

Representative Service Package

You will receive our full end-to-end service where we take care of all aspects of the application process for you and act as representative on your application. This service includes preparation of an application package for submission to the Nationality Law Department, uploading all of your documents to UKVCAS and keeping you updated at all stages of the process.