Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Immigration Corner | From permanent residency to British citizenship

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2020 | 12:08 AM
John Bassie Contributed
John Bassie Contributed

Dear Mr Bassie,

How would I go about applying for British citizenship if I have permanent residence status? I look forward to reading your advice.

– G.O.

Dear G.O.,

Persons or their family members who are from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland are usually able to receive ‘permanent residence’ status automatically after living in the United Kingdom for five years.

Persons should be aware that they will need a permanent residence document that proves their status before being able to apply for British citizenship. Please note that persons will usually need to have had permanent residence status for 12 months before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Persons will not need to wait 12 months to apply if they are married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen.

Please note that persons may have lost their permanent residence status if they have been away from the United Kingdom for more than two years at any time since receiving it.

Persons must also:

• Be over 18 years of age;

• Prove they were in the United Kingdom exactly five years before the day the Home Office receives the application;

• Prove their knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic;

• Show they have passed the life-in-the-UK test;

• Intend to continue living in the United Kingdom;

• Be of good character – read the ‘naturalisation’ guidance.

This is one way to apply for British citizenship. Persons should check if they are eligible another way, for example, if they have ‘settled status’ under the European Union Settlement Scheme.


Applicants should have lived in the United Kingdom for at least five years before the date of their application.

Applicants cannot include any time spent in the United Kingdom when they are exempt from immigration control; for example, as a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces.

Applicants should also not have:

• Spent more than 450 days outside the United Kingdom during those five years;

• Spent more than 90 days outside the United Kingdom in the last 12 months;

• Broken any United Kingdom immigration laws; for example, living illegally in the UK.

It costs £1,330 to apply. Persons must also pay £19.20 to have their biometric information, fingerprints, and a photo, taken. They will be told how to do this after applying. Persons will usually get a decision within six months – some applications can take longer.

Please note that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom until June 30, 2021. Those persons and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the United Kingdom.

Good luck.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: