Becoming A British Citizen
Alan Platt (Director) gives expert video advice on: What is 'indefinite leave to remain'?; What is the diffrence between ndefinite leave to remain and permanent residency?; How do I apply for permanent residency? and more...
What is 'indefinite leave to remain'?
Indefinite leave to remain is when there is no restriction upon the length of your stay in the United Kingdom. The only restriction that applies is that you can not spend more than two years continuously away from the United Kingdom. If you do, then you would lose your 'indefinite leave to remain' status.
What is the diffrence between ndefinite leave to remain and permanent residency?
There is no difference between indefinite leave to remain and permanent residency. They both mean the same thing.
Who is eligible to apply for permanent residency?
Anyone is eligible to apply for permanent residency in the United Kingdom after they completed a preparation period, as either two years as a spouse of a British citizen, or five years as the work permit holder.
Are there any restrictions on permanent residency?
No, there are no restrictions on a person who is granted permanent residency, with the exception that they may not remain continuously out of the United Kingdom for more than two years. If they do remain out of the United Kingdom for more than 2 years, then they will lose their permanent residency status. For example, it could be that you marry a British citizen and then the British citizen gets posted abroad for 3 years with his job, or with her job, and then obviously you would have to make an application to come back to the United Kingdom again, later.
Am I allowed to apply for benefits once I am a permanent residence?
Yes, you can claim benefits in the United Kingdom once you have indefinite leave to remain on permanent residency. Your situation with regards to benefits would be exactly the same as a British citizen.
What is 'naturalisation'?
Naturalization is a process that a foreign national would have to go through to become a British citizen. Normally, a person is required to live here for a five year period to become a British citizen and to be free from immigration conditions for at least one year. There is, however, an exception to this where someone is married to a British citizen. In this situation, they would have to demonstrate that they've lived in this country for a three year period and that they hold indefinite leave to remain at the time of application. For example, if you're married to a British citizen, you don't need to have indefinite leave to remain for a twelve month period. You just need to have indefinite leave to remain. So, you could have lived here for three years, got indefinite leave to remain yesterday and yesterday you could also apply to become a British citizen. It's easier if you're married to a British citizen.
Who is eligible to apply for British citizenship?
British citizenship can be applied for by anyone who has completed a five-year period of residency in the United Kingdom and held indefinitely to remain for at least twelve months. It is also for somebody to apply for British citizenship via naturalization if they are married to a British citizen and have lived here for three years. British citizenship is also possible to apply for, obviously if somebody is born in the United Kingdom and their parents are free from immigration control.
What is a 'Life in the UK' test?
The 'Life in the UK' test has recently been introduced by the immigration service to encourage people to learn English. It's an assessment of a person's ability in the English language, and their knowledge of life in the United Kingdom. It's become obligatory for those people applying to naturalize, or for registered British citizens who are under the age of 65.
What will they ask in a Life in the UK test?
The Life in the UK test is about culture, society in the United Kingdom, and our way of life. I would highly recommend that the person reads a 'Life in the UK' book, which is very informative and prepares you for the test, and provides you with all the background information as to the questions that you're likely to be asked.
What happens if I fail the Life in the UK test?
If you fail the Life in the UK Test you may retake it. You would not obviously be able to apply to naturalize until you pass that test.
Does everyone applying for a passport have to take a Life in the UK test?
No, not everyone. It's only for people who are naturalizing or registering as British citizens. If you were born in the United Kingdom to parents who are settled here, then you would not need to sit for the Life in the UK test. It's only for individuals naturalizing or registering as British citizens.
Does everyone applying for naturalisation have to take a Life in the UK test?
It's not necessary to take the Life in the UK test to become naturalized. If, for example, you're over the age of 65, you don't have to take the test. Also, you don't have to take the test if your ability in the English language is not sufficient for you to read through the book and answer the questions. The Immigration and Naturalization Directorate organize courses to prepare people to develop their levels of English and to pass the test.
What is 'right of abode'?
"Right of abode" is an endorsement issued to individuals who have the right to live in the United Kingdom. There is a distinction between Indefinite Leave to Remain and the "right of abode". "Right of abode" normally means that a person has some access to become a British citizen. They may already be a British citizen and retain another nationality, and for travel purposes wish to have a right of abode placed in their passport.
I was born in the UK but have lived in another country all my life, am I a British citizen?
Whether you're a British citizen would depend upon the immigration status of your parents at the time you were born. For example, if your mother or your father had indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom or were British citizens themselves, then you would be British yourself too. If you were born in the United Kingdom you could, for example, your mother and father could come to London on a visit and all of the sudden eight months into her pregnancy your mother gives birth to you, you would not be a British citizen because your mother and your father would just be here as visitors. But if your mother or your father were here on a permanent basis, if they had indefinite leave to remain, then you would be a British citizen by birth.
One of my parents is British, can I apply for citizenship?
Yes, if one of your parents is a British citizen, they may pass their citizenship to you, even if you were born outside the United Kingdom.
I have British heritage, can I apply for citizenship?
You wouldn't be able to apply for citizenship if one of your grandparents was a British citizen, but what you would be able to apply for would be UK Ancestry status, which would allow you to come to the United Kingdom if you were a Commonwealth national to live and work in the United Kingdom. After five years of that status, you could apply for permanent residency, and then naturalize as a British citizen in your own right.
Do I automatically get citizenship, if a member of my family is granted citizenship?
That will very much depend upon what relation you are to the other member of your family. Obviously in most cases you'd have to apply yourself to register or naturalize as a British citizen.
If my husband is granted British citizenship, will I automatically become a British citizen?
If you are married and you are both foreign nationals, and you both come to live in the United Kingdom, you would also have to apply to naturalize in your own right. Even if your husband was granted British citizenship, you would not automatically be granted citizenship yourself unless you applied for it.
If my father is granted British citizenship, will I automatically become a British citizen?
If your father applies for British citizenship and you are a child, you would also, as the child, have to apply to register as a British citizen. You would not automatically be granted British citizenship because your father or your mother had been given British citizenship by naturalization.
If I become a British citizen, will I lose my current citizenship?
As far as the UK government is concerned, you would not lose your own nationality if you decided to naturalize as a British citizen. There are, however, some countries in the world which do not allow dual nationality, and you would be best to check with the embassy or consulate of your own country to see whether, by becoming a British citizen, it would jeopardize your own nationality.
What is dual nationality?
Dual nationality is where an individual holds more than one nationality. Normally, they will have a nationality from the country of their birth, and then later will have moved to live in another country; and by virtue of their residency there, the period of which they've lived there, would have qualified to become a national of the other country.