Immigration Corner | Is this the way to citizenship?
Dear Mr Bassie,
How can one become a British citizen by naturalisation?
There are different ways to become a British citizen and the most common is known as 'naturalisation'.
Persons can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if they are 18 years of age or over; meet the test of being of good character, for example, if they do not have a serious or recent criminal record, and they have not tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the past ten years; they will continue to live in the United Kingdom; have met the knowledge of English and life in the United Kingdom requirements; and if they meet the residency requirement.
In addition, persons must usually have lived in the United Kingdom for at least the five years before the date of their application; spent no more than 450 days outside the United Kingdom during those five years; spent no more than 90 days outside the United Kingdom in the past 12 months; had settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK for the past 12 months if they are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA); had permanent residence status for the last 12 months; if they are a citizen of an EEA country, they will need to provide a permanent residence document; and also not broken any immigration laws while over there.
There are different requirements if a person's spouse or civil partner is a British citizen. Also, persons 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, as part of the five years. It is recommended that applicants read the full guidance notes and the requirements booklet before applying.
Persons may be able to apply to become a British citizen by 'registration' in certain circumstances. Please note that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom, nor United Kingdom nationals living in the EU, while the United Kingdom remains in the EU.
Persons can apply on behalf of a child under 18 years of age if they meet the eligibility criteria and they do not have to pass the 'life in the UK' test.
There are three ways to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation. Applicants may make an individual application; use the Nationality Checking Service (NCS); or use an agent or representative.
To make an individual application, persons must fill in Form AN - application for naturalisation as a British citizen. Applicants must also read the guidance notes and the requirements booklet, which advises how to complete the form and what other documents will need to be provided. With respect to the NCS, this is run by local councils and they can help in making the application. Applicants should check if their local council has an NCS.
Fees have been changed from April 6, 2017, and will vary. Applicants must also provide biometric information, fingerprints and a photo, and this cost is £19.20.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.