Apply for British Citizenship, Full requirements and Eligibility

A person can become a British citizen by birth as well as by applying for Naturalisation. If you want to become a UK citizen, you will have to show that you have lived in the UK on Indefinite-Leave-to-Remain. 

You have to prove that you have EU Settled-Status for a minimum of three years. In that case, you also need to prove that you have not broken any UK laws, including immigration breaches.

When your request for permanent resident status has been approved, you can live in the UK on a permanent basis. You can also study and work legally. You will not be prohibited by any immigration-related restrictions.

You will be able to travel around and spend time in other countries without the risk of losing your resident status. Should you need to know a bit more about getting settled status in the UK, reach out to our professional team here at Rapid Visa.

What Are the Requirements for British Citizenship?

There are several British-citizenship requirements that you need to know about. They are influenced by the British nationality act. If you want to apply for citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be older than 18 years old
  • You have to spend at least five continuous years of residence in the UK. You must not leave for more than 450 days during these five years
  • It is important to pass the Life in the UK Test to show your awareness of the basics of British traditions. You must know about UK culture and customs
  • You need to have had Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK for at least one year
  • You must meet the English language requirements. There are exceptions for this requirement
  • No UK immigration rules may have been breached, ever
  • You must meet the ‘Good Character’ requirement

Meeting the ‘Good Character’ Requirement

Anyone who wishes to qualify for UK citizenship needs to show that they have ‘good character’. As such, you must not have a recent criminal record or hold any serious record.

The Home Office will take a closer look at any criminal offences you may have committed in other countries. Any immigration-related issues will also be reviewed by the Home Office.

On a positive note, UK Visas and Immigration will take into consideration any contributions you have made to society. You need to show UK officials that you are a good person in order to meet the ‘good character’ requirement.

Become a UK Citizen by Naturalisation

If you were born outside the UK, you can apply for British-Citizenship by the process of naturalisation. You must meet the above-mentioned requirements to be eligible for naturalisation. 

Anyone married to a UK citizen can submit an application for Naturalisation. This can only happen after three years of constant residence in the UK as a settled person. Before applying for naturalisation, you have to meet all additional requirements specified by the Home Office.

You should pay special attention during the last year of your time period of qualification. You will not be able to spend more than three months outside the UK. The English language requirements must be met unless you have been given exemption.

You can complete the Home Office Naturalisation form to apply for British citizenship. Normally, the process will take between three and six months to complete. You will be invited to a Citizenship ceremony if your application was approved. You will receive your Certificate of Naturalisation at the ceremony.

The Immigration Routes for British Citizenship Registration

There is more than one route to follow when you register for British Citizenship. The route is determined by your own unique circumstances.

British Citizenship by Descent or Birth

You can be recognised as a British citizen if you were born in the UK after 1 January 1983. You are also eligible for citizenship if you were born overseas from at least one parent who has British citizenship or is a settled person.

British Citizenship by Marriage

You can apply for British citizenship as the civil partner or spouse of a UK citizen. In this case, you have to spend three years in the UK as a settled person. You can hold either EU Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain status.

The Five-Year Route

After you have spent five years of living in the UK, you can go on to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, also simply called ILR. Then, you must spend 12 months as a settled person. After this period, you can submit an application for British nationality.

EA and EU citizens who are on the EU Settled Scheme have to follow the same process.

Citizenship for Individuals Who Are Stateless

A person who is ‘stateless’ and not recognised as a citizen of a country can apply for British citizenship. The specific application process and eligibility will depend on which country you were born in.

People Who Renounced Citizenship

If you gave up your British Citizenship, you may be allowed to resume your citizenship. 

You should seek legal advice and your circumstances can be assessed. 

Required Documents to Register for British Citizenship

You need to prepare adequately when you submit your request for British citizenship. It is very important to have all the right documents ready in a portfolio. You must show how you meet the requirements.

When you are prepared and organised, the Home Office will be able to evaluate your application much faster. This will speed up the process.

Here is a list of the documents you will need to send to the Home Office when you apply for British citizenship:

  • Proof of your identity as well as your permanent residence status. This can be shown through your birth certificate, passport or any valid travel document.
  • Proof of your previous immigration status as well as your legal right to be in the UK. This includes the visa you had before you settled in the UK.
  • Evidence that you meet the ‘good character’ requirement.
  • Proof of knowledge of life in the UK and the English language. You need to complete the Life in the UK Test and receive a pass certificate. You also need to pass the ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) language exam.
  • Evidence that you hold EU Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain. Your Biometric Residence Permit or resident card should suffice.
  • Travel details about any time spent outside of the UK. You need to prove that you have not left the UK for more than 450 days during your five-year residence.
  • Proof of your lawful residential presence in the UK during your qualifying period. You must also show that you have never broken any immigration laws.
  • Evidence that you are not under UK immigration time restrictions and have the right to be in the UK.
  • Depending on your immigration status, you need proof that you have exercised the treaty right in the last three or five years. For this, you can provide letters that confirm your employment. You can also present letters from where you studied or bank statements.

Difference Between British Citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain

With Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship, you have the right to live, study and work in the UK. This includes permanent residence and EU Settled Status. Legally, you are free from immigration controls.

However, it is important to note that these two are different statuses.

British Citizenship

When you have British Citizenship, you have full rights and responsibilities. You will be able to vote and get a British passport. You can leave the UK for unlimited periods of time. There is no worry about losing your status as a citizen.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

After a five-year continuous residence in the UK, you can get Indefinite Leave to Remain. With this status, you are legally a British settled person. You will be able to live peacefully and access public funds. You can also be visited by family and leave the country and return without a visa.

However, you can lose your Indefinite Leave to Remain status if you live outside the UK for more than two years.

When to Apply for British Citizenship After Indefinite Leave to Remain Status Is Gained

You have to wait 12 months after you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain status before applying for citizenship in the UK. This rule is the same for EU and EEA citizens with EU Settled Status as well as anyone with Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK.

If you are married to a UK citizen, you do not have to wait as long. You can apply for naturalisation once you have gained your status. Note that during the one-year qualifying period you may not spend more than three months away from the UK. You could be asked to present details about your time away.

You will lose your status if you have spent more than two years away. As a result, you will not qualify for British citizenship. You will have to spend the required time in the UK again.

A person holding an EU citizen Settled Status will lose their right to settle in the UK if they spend more than five years in another country. To regain your status, you have to fill in a new application.


You should know that applying for citizenship in the UK can be a time-consuming and stressful experience.If you feel that you need advice, the helpful team at Rapid Visa will be happy to assist. Each case is unique and will be assessed by a professional who can guide you through the process.

Reach out or make an online enquiry to find out more about becoming a British citizen and if you qualify. Further, Rapid Visa can assist you with the process of applying for your visa and naturalisation process. 

How To Apply for British Citizenship

You will have to complete an application form provided by the UK Visa and Immigration division of the Home Office. Once completed, you must submit the application and your documentation.

Biometric details such as your photo and scans of your fingerprint will be collected. This can be done at your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centre.In some cases, the Home Office will contact you to inform you that you can give your information at your local post office.

You can submit all your documents and forms from within the UK or abroad. 

The British Citizenship Application Form

To submit your request for British Citizenship, you will have to fill out and file the application Form AN. It is an Application for Naturalisation as a British citizen. You will note that every section of the form needs you to give detailed info about your case. 

This will help show your eligibility for citizenship.

Information that needs to be given includes your proof of residency and your employment status. You need to provide biographical data as well. You will also need to give details about any dependants who are applying for citizenship with you.

Anyone applying for UK citizenship such as the spouse of a British national will have to show evidence of the relationship.

You will have to add details of your two sponsors and they will be required to sign the form. Their signatures are confirmation that the information on the form is correct.

Referees for a British Citizenship Application

You will have two referees who need to certify your application for British citizenship. You can choose the referees yourself. They have to confirm that all the information that you have provided in your form is correct. 

Your request will not be valid without the two referees’ signature. As a result, your application form will be rejected.

Your referees may not be related to you or to each other. They must know you for at least three years. The referees you choose may not have any criminal convictions from the last ten years before your application.

One of the referees has to be a person of professional or high standing. For example, he or she must be a member of an accomplished body or a doctor. A minister of religion is also good enough. 

This referee may not be employed by the UK Visa and Immigration division. They may not be an agent that represents you or a solicitor helping you. However, your referees should be UK nationals and hold British passports. They must be 25 years old or older or be a professional.

Life in the UK Test

This test is also called the British Citizenship Test. It is an exam with 24 questions about British culture. You will have to answer questions about customs and histories - details that British citizens need to know.

The questions are based on information provided in the Life in the UK Handbook. The book is available at the Home Office. You need a mark of at least 75% to pass the test.

If you have lived in the UK and received a pass certificate as part of your ILR requirements, you do not need it for the citizenship requirements. People who suffer from a disability or long-term illness are exempt from this requirement.

You have to choose one of the closest centres to where you live to write your test. You can book the test online and it must be booked three days in advance.

You must have your identification document with you on the day of your exam. You must use the same document you used to book your test. It is also required that you have your proof of address with you.

If you do not have the required documentation with you, you will not be able to do the test. You will not get a refund if this happens.

You will get a notification letter if you have passed the test. This letter must be sent to the UK Visa and Immigration. With it, you must send your permanent residence form. 

Should you fail the test, you can retake it as many times as is necessary.

If you have questions about your citizenship application, do not hesitate to reach out to Rapid Visa’s team. 

Duration of the British-Citizenship Application Process

As mentioned before, the process of applying for UK citizenship is a timely one. As soon as you have paid your appropriate fee, the Home Office will start to process your case.

In general, applications will be reviewed by the UK Visa and Immigration division within roughly six months. You cannot apply for same-day service to help speed up the application process. It is possible for you to get a reply from the Home Office earlier than expected.

Complex cases can take more than 6 months to get processed. If you have provided all the necessary documents and followed the necessary steps, you may have an answer sooner rather than later.

If any documentation is missing, your application process will likely be delayed. You will have to provide all relevant documents or evidence you failed to submit. When the application is approved you will be called up for your Citizenship ceremony. You will get your Naturalisation certificate after which you can apply for your British passport.

Tracking Your British Citizenship Application Status

As mentioned before, the average waiting period for a British citizen application can be between three and six months. This time depends on how complex the case is and how busy the Home Office is. If you have provided all the required documentation your application should be handled quicker.

You can travel to other countries while you wait for your case to be processed. You do not need to send in your original passport with your application form.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to track your application status online. It is possible to reach out to UK Visa & Immigration through email. You can also call them and ask about the status of your application.

Proving Knowledge of the English Language

Before you can become a British citizen, you need to show good knowledge of the English language. You must have a recognised English test qualification that is at least at a B1 level. This qualification must be obtained from an approved test centre.

UK Visa & Immigration only accept credentials certified by English for Speakers of Other Languages. Other qualifications include the National Vocational Qualifications are not accepted. General Certificates of Secondary Education are not valid either.

Some test qualifications can last for only two years. The Home Office will accept an expired certificate only if it was accepted by another UK immigration application. 

An expired certificate that was accepted when you settled on Indefinite Leave to Remain, is good enough.

Note that there are several exemptions to the English Language requirement. You will not have to sit for an English exam if you are older than 65 or suffer from a mental condition. Any long term physical conditions will exempt you as well.If you have a degree that was taught or researched in English, you do not have to take the test.

In case you have studied overseas, you will have to provide an Academic Qualification Level Statement. This will certify that your degree is equal to a UK qualification taught in English.

The British Citizenship Ceremony

Anyone older than 18 and has been accepted as Naturalised UK citizens must participate in a Citizenship ceremony. This is required under the British Nationality Act. The point of the ceremony is to make every new British citizen feel welcome in British society.

You must book your ceremony within three months of the date when you received your invitation. These ceremonies are not open to the public but you can bring one guest. The Mayor of your council will attend your ceremony. If not, the Deputy Mayor will be there.

You must have your Home Office letter of invitation when attending the ceremony. You should also have confirmation from the Register Office in written form with you. During the ceremony, you will have to take an Oath of Allegiance. You must also pledge of loyalty to the UK. When you have finished the rite, you will be given your British nationality certificate.

You will also get an information pack with details about your new responsibilities and rights as a British citizen. You can ask the embassy to have the ceremony where you are if you live outside the UK. Alternatively, you can ask to postpone your function if you will return to the UK within three months of receiving your invitation.

British Citizenship by Marriage

When you are married to a UK national, you are allowed to apply for Naturalisation. This can only happen after three years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK as a settled person.

You have to meet certain requirements before you submit your application form though.

Here is a list of requirements and information you need to keep in mind:

  • You must have held an Indefinite Leave to Remain status three years before your application
  • or

  • You must have an EU Settled Status or EEA permanent residence three years before your application
  • If your spouse is a UK-settled person without a British passport you must follow a different immigration route
  • You have to be 18 years of age or older
  • Provide proof of at least three years of living in the UK
  • You will have to show your knowledge of the English language. You need to sit an English for Speakers of Other Languages exam or prove that you are from an English-speaking country
  • You have to qualify as a ‘good character’
  • You must pass the Life in the UK Test

Requirements for British Citizenship by Birth

A child born in the UK is not automatically given British Citizenship by birth. To be eligible for citizenship, the child must have at least one parent who is a citizen or holds settled status. When children are born in the UK to parents who are non-British citizens, they are seen as dependants. As such, they have to follow the same visa rules as their parents.

British Citizenship by Descent Requirements

Someone born outside the UK to a parent who is a British citizen acquires British citizenship by descent. 

If you have a British-born grandfather who was in Crown service and you were born after 1 January 1983, you can register for UK nationality. You can also register if one of your parents was born in a former British colony.

Renouncing British Citizenship or Nationality

Anyone can decide to give up their British citizenship. If you wish to do so, you can apply to renounce your status or citizenship.

If you want to become a citizen in another country, you may have to renounce your citizenship. This is often the case with countries that do not allow dual nationality.

When you request to renounce your citizenship has been accepted, you will be given a ‘declaration of renunciation’. You can use this declaration to show that you are not a British citizen anymore.

This will only affect you and your family will keep their statuses as UK nationals. If you wish to renounce your British citizenship, you need to be at least 18 years of age. You will also have to meet the ‘sound mind’ requirement.

You have to be legally considered to be able to make decisions on your own.

Resumption of British Citizenship

We briefly discussed the resumption of British citizenship and will now look closer at what it entails.

If you have had second thoughts about renouncing your British citizenship, you can apply for resumption.

However, this is not something that is taken lightly. You can only regain your citizenship if you forfeited it to acquire another nationality. When you apply for resumption, you need to show evidence that you still have strong connections with the UK.

The Home Office will also review your ‘good character’ before you can reclaim your citizenship.

Dual Citizenship in the UK

The UK fully allows dual citizenship. When you hold dual nationality, you can be a British citizen as well as a citizen of another country.

UK law allows multiple citizenships with no problems or issues. You can apply for Naturalisation when you have more than one nationality.

There is no need for you to register for dual nationality. If you are a British national already, you can just go ahead and apply to get foreign citizenship in the country of your choice. This country needs to allow dual nationality or you have to renounce your British citizenship.

Every country has its own rules on dual citizenship. You will have to do related research to determine what the required procedures are. You can reach out to your country’s embassy to find out what you are allowed to do.

When you submit your request, remember that there are some drawbacks to dual nationality. You will not be able to ask for diplomatic help from the UK government while in another country where you have permanent residency.

In some cases, when you become a British citizen you can lose any previous nationality automatically. We recommend that you make sure that you are aware of everything that goes with becoming a British citizen.

Refugees Acquiring British Citizenship

There are three different stages on the path to nationality and residence in the UK available to refugees. These stages are based on the 2009 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act.

The refugee can get temporary residence status which lasts for five years. They get this as a result of their asylum status.

Then there is Probationary Citizenship which is between one and three years. This can be obtained by passing an Active Review. In this case, the applicants must have a continued need for protection. They must have no criminal record and pass the Life in the UK Test.

Full Citizenship, also known as Permanent Residence status, means a refugee has the right to live in the UK indefinitely. This is the last stage of acquiring citizenship as a refugee.

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