British Citizenship is one of the 6 different forms of British nationality. British Citizens have an automatic right to live and work in the UK and to apply for a British passport.
British citizenship can be acquired in one of the following 5 ways:
You are automatically a British citizen if you are:
- born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 and
- born when one of your parents was a British citizen or ‘settled’ in the UK
If your child is adopted by order of a court in the UK, or in any British overseas territory (except the British Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus) and at least one of the adoptive parents was a British citizen at the time the adoption order was made, then the child will automatically become a British citizen.
In law they will become a ‘British citizen other than by descent’ which is the same as if they had been born in the UK to a British citizen parent. This means that they can pass on British citizenship to any children they have.
Where a person is born outside the UK and acquires British citizenship only because one or both of his or her parents is a British citizen, he is classified as a British citizen by descent. This means that he cannot automatically pass on British citizenship to any child who is also born abroad.
You may be eligible to apply to ‘register’ as a British citizen if you were born in the UK. It depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances:
You were born on or after 1 January 1983 and may be eligible if either:
- you are under 18 and since your birth one of your parents became a British citizen, or got permission to stay in the UK permanently
- you lived in the UK until you were 10 or older
You are automatically a British citizen if you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, unless:
- your father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country
- your father was ‘an enemy alien in occupation’ and you were born in the Channel Islands during World War 2
Naturalisation is at the discretion of the Home Secretary. You may be able to apply for citizenship by ‘naturalisation’, depending on your situation.
If you are eligible in more than one way you can choose which way to apply.
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 will 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 will be eligible to apply for citizenship immediately.
You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
You can usually apply for ILR after you have 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 have ‘permanent residence’ status
If you or a family member are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you usually get permanent residence status automatically after living in the UK for 5 years.
To apply for citizenship with permanent residence status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting permanent residence status. You also need a permanent residence document that proves you have lived in the UK for 5 years – this can be any 5 year period.
This means that if the 5 year period was more than 12 months ago, you will be able to apply for citizenship as soon as you get your permanent residence document.
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’.
Our expert team of immigration solicitors can assist with your application for naturalisation as a British Citizen and carry out all the work on your application until decision on your application is received from the Home Office.
We will assess your eligibility for naturalisation as a British Citizen by considering all the relevant information including your past immigration history.
We will also advise you on the list of documents to be submitted in support of your application and assess all documents to ensure that they satisfy the requirements.
In support of your application, we will draft a detailed legal representation in support of your application. After submitting your application and your payment of the relevant fees, we will assist with any further liaison with the Home Office until a decision is received on your application.
- Taking your detailed instructions and advise you about UK nationality law and procedures
- Advice on documentary evidence required in support of your application
- Assist with submitting your application including a detailed legal representation
- Protect your interests while your application is pending and keep you informed about the progress on your matter until a decision has been reached
You will usually get settled status if you have:
- started living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’)
Five years’ continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you’ve been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12 month period. The exceptions are:
- one period of up to 12 months for an important reason (for example, childbirth, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas work posting)
- compulsory military service of any length
- time you spent abroad as a Crown servant, or as the family member of a Crown servant
- time you spent abroad in the armed forces, or as the family member of someone in the armed forces
You can stay in the UK as long as you like if you get settled status. You’ll also be able to apply for British citizenship if you are eligible.
If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you will usually get pre-settled status. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
You can then apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence. You must do this before your pre-settled status expires.
If you reach 5 years’ continuous residence at some point by 31 December 2020, you can choose to wait to apply until you reach 5 years’ continuous residence. This means that if your application is successful, you will be granted settled status without having to apply for pre-settled status first.
You can stay in the UK for a further 5 years from the date you get pre-settled status.
Your rights with settled or pre-settled status
You’ll be able to:
- work in the UK
- use the NHS for free
- enrol in education or continue studying
- access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
- travel in and out of the UK
If you want to spend time outside the UK
If you have settled status, you can spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status.
If you’re a Swiss citizen, you and your family members can spend up to 4 years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status.
If you have pre-settled status, you can spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status. You will need to maintain your continuous residence if you want to qualify for settled status.
If you have children after applying
If you get settled status, any children born in the UK while you’re living here will automatically be British citizens.
If you get pre-settled status, any children born in the UK will be automatically eligible for pre-settled status. They will only be a British citizen if they qualify for it through their other parent.
The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.
You’ll need to apply again when you’re changing your pre-settled status for settled status.
We can assist with submitting the online application on your behalf. The Home Office will use the personal information you provide to decide whether to grant your application.