21 Nov How can you naturalise under the new Nationality Guidance?
It is important to note that naturalisation is by discretion of the Secretary of State and a matter of law set out in the British Nationality Act 1981 rather than an entitlement. The Home Office published a new nationality policy guidance in October 2022 to elucidate some recent changes.
We have summarised in this article the main requirements to make a successful application to naturalise as a British Citizen under section 6(1) and section 6(2) of the above named 1981 Act.
1. Lawful continuous residence and total absence days
As a prospective applicant, you need to have lived in the UK lawfully for the required period – that is 5 years if qualifying in your own rights, or 3 years if you are the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, without excessive absences.
Days of absence should not amount to more than 450 days in the 5-year route under section 6(1) and 270 days if applying under the 3- year route pursuant to section 6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981.
Please note that absences up to 480 days and 300 days are normally disregarded in the respective qualifying period.
There is some discretion for the Home Office to disregard absences above the threshold in some limited circumstances. However, the maximum amount is 900 days for 6(1) and 540 days for section 6(2).
- Absences in the 12 months prior to applying
The applicant must not have been absent for more than 90 days during the last 12 months prior to the submission of the online application. Kindly note that absences up to 100 days in the last year are normally disregarded.
It is possible to request the Home Office to exercise discretion if the total number of absences is less than 180 days and the applicant has made the UK their main home, spent more than 5/3 years in the UK, all the other requirements are met, and the absences are due to compelling/compassionate reasons or the global pandemic.
- Lawfully residence and settled status
The UKVI will expect an applicant to have been lawfully resident and be present in the UK at the start of the five or three years period. In addition, he/she should have held ILR for 12 months under section 6(1) and have been granted settled under section 6(2).
2. Good character
The British Nationality Act 1981 contains a statutory requirement that those seeking to naturalise as British must be of good character. This means you must observe UK laws and show respect for the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Checks will normally be carried out in the following aspects: Criminality; Terrorism and International Crimes; Financial soundness; Deception.
In line with the changes brought by the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, if a person has committed previous immigration breaches such as illegal entry, overstaying, and absconding, these may be disregarded if the person holds ILR status when applying for naturalisation after 28th June 2022.
The application must be endorsed by 2 referees.
One referee can be of any nationality but must be a professional person. A professional person could include a minister of religion; civil servant; a member of a professional body such as an accountant or a solicitor (but not one who is representing you with this application).
The other referee must be the holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or over the age of 25. You could refer to “Recognised professions” listed by the Home office for more details.
Each referee must not berelated to you; or related to the other referee; your solicitor or agent representing you with this application; employed by the Home Office
4. English requirements and Life in the UK
You must prove your English ability and your knowledge of Life In the UK as it is “important that you are able to communicate with the wider community and are equipped to play a part in community life” and “understand what it means to be a British citizen”.
You may be exempted from these requirements if you are aged 65 and over or have a long-term physical or mental condition.
These normally have already been proven when you applied ILR.
5. Future intention to locate
A person who is applying under the 5-year route, must provide evidence of intention to make the UK their main home. You must supply proof to indicate that both your personal life and professional life are primarily based in the UK.
Submit online application and attend biometric enrolment
You will need to submit your AN application form online and provide your biometric information within 45 days. You don’t have to be physically in the UK while submitting as long as you meet the absence requirement, however, you are required to attend the enrolment appointment in person. This step could not be completed via the IDV app.
Travel after submitting the application and Processing time
The naturalisation application will normally be decided within 6 months from the date of the biometric appointment. An applicant is free to travel whilst waiting for decisions using a valid passport and evidence of valid ILR, or another valid status.
Following a successful application, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony within 3 months of receiving the invitation email. The civil ceremony is held by the council, so the applicant will need to contact the local authority to book an available date.
Contact Our Immigration Team
For expert advice regarding any aspect of the UK visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.