Naturalisation in the UK

Introduction

Naturalisation is the term given to the process whereby a non-citizen in a country (not indigenous to, bear in mind) acquires citizenship or nationality of that country.

Certain countries require that an individual must renounce his or her current nationality before he can be awarded the nationality in order to guard against multiple citizenships.

Countries may do this for reasons like not seeing eye to eye on key global issues or nations at war. Note that war is not the only reason why an applicant will have to renounce his or her current citizenship to acquire a new one. Case in point Slovenia, which requires those acquiring Slovenian citizenship by naturalisation to renounce any foreign citizenship they hold.

This is not a country that is in the thick of heated global issues. Many countries require you to take an oath and promise to obey the native laws. Countries (like the UK) mandate a minimum legal residency requirement. Read on to find out the nuances.

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What is included?

  • Circumstances affecting application types (for applicants born in the UK)
  • Born outside of the UK or Stateless
  • Moved to the UK
  • Commonwealth citizens

Circumstances affecting application types (BORN IN THE UK)

You might have an automatic right to citizenship if you or your parents were born in the UK.

Born in the UK/British colony prior to 1 January 1983

You’re usually automatically a British citizen if you were born in the UK.

There are 2 exceptions. You will not be a British citizen if your father was either:

  • a diplomat working for a foreign country
  • an ‘enemy alien in occupation’ – this only applies to you if your father was in the Channel Islands during World War 2 when you were born
You were born in a British colony

You’re automatically a British citizen if both of the following apply:

  • you were a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you had the right of abode in the UK (this means you could live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls)

There’s one exception. You might not be a British citizen if you got a certificate to confirm that you’re registered as a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) under the ‘British Nationality (No 2) Act 1964

Born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000

Whether you’re a British citizen depends on where your parents were from and their circumstances. There are different rules if, when you were born:

  • at least one of your parents was a British or Irish citizen
  • at least one of your parents was a citizen of an EU or EEA country
  • neither of your parents was a British, Irish, EU or EEA citizen

If you were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court, you are automatically a British citizen.

If at least one of your parents was a British or Irish citizen when you were born

You’ll be a British citizen if when you were born at least one of your parents was either:

  • a British citizen
  • an Irish citizen living in the UK

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

If your parents were not British, Irish, EU or EEA citizens when you were born

You’re only automatically a British citizen if when you were born at least one of your parents lived in the UK and had one of the following immigration statuses:

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • right of abode
  • right of re-admission

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

Born in the UK between 2 October 2000 and 29 April 2006

Whether you’re a British citizen depends on where your parents were from and their circumstances. There are different rules if when you were born:

  • at least one of your parents was a British or Irish citizen
  • You will be a British citizen if one of your parents was an Irish citizen living in the UK or a British citizen

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.  Automatically a British citizen if you were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court.

  • at least one of your parents was a citizen of an EU or EEA country

Most children of EU or EEA citizens born between 2 October 2000 and 29 April 2006 are not automatically British citizens. You are automatically a British citizen if when you were born all of the following applied to at least one of your parents:

they had citizenship of a country that was in the EU or the EEA at the time, they lived in the UK and they had ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR), ‘right of abode’ or ‘right of re-admission’

You might also be a British citizen if your parent or their family member died or stopped working before you were born. If the parent that meets these conditions is your father, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

  • neither of your parents was a British, Irish, EU or EEA citizen

You’re automatically a British citizen if when you were born at least one of your parents lived in the UK and had one of the following: indefinite leave to remain (ILR), right of abode and right to re-admission

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father, he must have been married to your mother when you were born

Born in the UK on 30 April 2006 onwards

  • at least one of your parents was a British or Irish citizen

You’ll be a British citizen if when you were born at least one of your parents was either:

a British citizen, an Irish citizen living in the UK

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father and you were born before 1 July 2006, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

  • at least one of your parents was a citizen of an EU or EEA country

You’re automatically a British citizen if when you were born all of the following applied to at least one of your parents: they had citizenship of a country that was in the EU or the EEA at the time, they lived in the UK, they had ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR), ‘permanent residence status’, ‘right of abode’ or ‘right of re-admission’

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father and you were born before 1 July 2006, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

  • neither of your parents was a British, Irish, EU or EEA citizen

You’re automatically a British citizen if when you were born at least one of your parents was living in the UK and had any of the following: indefinite leave to remain (ILR), right to re-admission, right of abode

If the parent that meets these conditions is your father and you were born before 1 July 2006, he must have been married to your mother when you were born.

You’re also automatically a British citizen if at least one of your parents was in the UK armed forces and you were born after 12 January 2010. You’re automatically a British citizen if you were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court

Born outside the UK or stateless

If at least one of your parents is a British citizen

You might automatically be a British citizen depending on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances at the time.

If you were born in a British overseas territory

Depending on when and where you were born, you might automatically be a British citizen if you were born in a British overseas territory.

If you were adopted

You’re automatically a British citizen if you were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court.

If you were adopted overseas, you’re a British citizen if you were adopted by a British citizen and your adoption order is certified as having been made in accordance with the Hague Convention.

Stateless

If you’re not recognised as a citizen of any country, you may be able to register as a British citizen depending on when and where you were born. It costs £1,206 to apply if you’re 18 or over and £1,012 if you’re under 18. Children who turn 18 during the application process will have to pay an extra £80 for a citizenship ceremony. If you send the wrong fee your application will not be processed and you’ll have to apply again. After application you must also pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. You’ll be sent a letter explaining what to do.

MOVED TO THE UK

You’re married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen. To apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen you must have lived in the UK for the last 3 years. You’ll also need to have one of the following: indefinite leave to remain, settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, a permanent residence document to confirm you have permanent residence status. If you do, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship immediately.

You should not have: spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3 years before your application, spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months, broken any UK immigration laws (for example living illegally in the UK). You may be exempt from the residency requirements if your partner works abroad either for the UK government or an organisation closely linked to the government. It costs £1,330 to apply. You must also pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. You’ll be told how to do this after you’ve applied.

Note that for children under 18, Your child is usually automatically a British citizen if they were born in the UK and when they were born either: their other parent was a British citizen, you had indefinite leave to remain in the UK or permanent residence status. Otherwise, check if your children are eligible to apply for citizenship in another way.

If your partner has died

You cannot apply for citizenship as the partner of a British citizen if your partner has died. Check if you’re eligible another way – for example if you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or permanent residence status.

You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) You can usually apply for ILR after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.To apply for citizenship with ILR you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it. You should also not have: spent more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years, spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months, broken any UK immigration laws (for example living illegally in the UK). It costs £1,330 to apply. You must also pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. You’ll be told how to do this after you’ve applied.

You have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you and your family member are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can apply for ‘settled status’ after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years. To apply for citizenship with settled status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it. Settled status is also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme’.

You must prove you were in the UK exactly 5 years before the day the Home Office receives your application, prove your knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic, have passed the life in the UK test, intend to continue living in the UK and be of good character – read the naturalisation guidance. £1,330 to apply. You must also pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. You’ll be told how to do this after you’ve applied.

Common Wealth Citizens

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship under the Windrush Scheme if both: you or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973, you’ve lived in the UK and not been away from it for more than 2 years, or if your parent arrived in the UK before 1973, you must have either: been born in the UK or arrived in the UK before you were 18

Some Commonwealth citizens have ‘right of abode’ in the UK. This means you can live or work in the UK without immigration restrictions

Proving you are part of the Windrush generation (for right of abode)

Parents

  • one of your parents was born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when you were born or adopted
  • you were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982
  • you did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982.

Marriage

You can only get right to abode through marriage if you’re a female Commonwealth citizen.

You must have:

  • been married to someone with right of abode before 1 January 1983
  • not stopped being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982

You usually will not have right of abode if the person you were married to has another living wife or widow who:

  • is in the UK, or has been in the UK at any time since her marriage (unless they entered the country illegally, came as a visitor or only have temporary permission to stay)
  • has a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or permission to enter the UK because of her marriage

However, you may still have right of abode if:

  • you entered the UK while married and before 1 August 1988, even if your husband has other wives in the UK
  • you’ve been in the UK since your marriage and at that time were your husband’s only wife to have legally entered the UK or been given permission to do so

Note In some cases it’s possible to resume your British nationality after renouncing it.

This article is written by our Volunteer Kwaku Asihene Dapaah