A brief guidance to British Citizenship

Becoming a British citizen is a significant life event. For your application to succeed you will need to show that you satisfy a number of requirements that are set out in British nationality law, and in particular in the 1981 British Nationality Act.

The requirements to naturalise as a British citizen differ depending on whether or not you are applying on the basis of your marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen, or if you are relying on your parents’ nationality.

If you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, then section 6(2) will apply and the key requirements are:

  • You are aged 18 or over when you apply
  • You are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen on the date of application
  • You must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence status
  • Meet the English language requirement- B1 level
  • Pass life in the UK test
  • You have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years before you apply
  • You must not have had more than 270 days outside the UK in the 3 years, and no more than 90 days in the 12 months before making the application
  • You are of ‘good character’

 

If you are NOT married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, then section 6(1) lists the following criteria:

  • You are aged 18 or over when you apply
  • You must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence status for at least 12 months
  • Meet the English language requirement- B1 level
  • Pass life in the UK test
  • You have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years before you apply
  • You must not have had more than 450 days outside the UK in the 5 years, and no more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to this application
  • You are of ‘good character’

 

When it comes to whether a child is British, the main distinction is whether a child has an automatic right to British Citizenship (BC) or whether the child could acquire BC by registration. According to section 1 (acquisition by birth), a child born in the UK to a parent who is a British citizen or ‘settled’ in the UK is automatically a British citizen by birth.  The child is British by birth.

Similarly, according to section 2(1) (a) Acquisition by descent, a child born outside the UK on or after 1 January 1983 automatically acquires British citizenship by descent if either parent is a British citizen otherwise than by descent at the time of the birth. You are a British Citizen otherwise than by descent having been born in the UK.

2(1) A person born outside the United Kingdom [F17and the qualifying territories] after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother-

(a) is a British citizen otherwise than by descent

However, a child can also register as a British Citizen, for instance, if born abroad after one of the parents becomes settled or if the child was born in the UK and has lived his first 10 years in the UK or in exceptional cases, the Home Secretary may register a child of parents who are British by descent as a British citizen under discretionary provisions.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the British passport application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075 or complete our enquiry form below.