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Nationality / British Citizenship

Applying to become a British Citizen

Are you or your client looking to apply for British citizenship? You may do so either by naturalisation or registration, depending on your circumstances.

Whatever your route to becoming a British national, with support from experts who are fully conversant with the typical pitfalls of the application process, you will have the best possible chance of a successful application.

British citizenship by naturalisation

If you are 18 years of age or more, and have been granted indefinite leave to remain or acquired a right of permanent residence in the UK, it may be possible to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation.

You will need to meet certain criteria concerning your length of residence in the UK, your immigration status, your future intentions and your knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. You’ll also be subject to a character assessment.

Depending on whether you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, the requirements for your naturalisation will vary.

The main differences are that, if you are not married to a British citizen, you will need to have been in the UK for five years before the date you apply, and may not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the five year period. If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you’ll need to have been in the UK for three years leading up to your application, and any absences from the UK must not total more than 270 days in that period.

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you may apply for British citizenship by naturalisation as soon as you have been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR). If you are not, you will need to wait 12 months after being granted ILR.

In all cases, you will only be successful if you have not been in breach of any UK immigration laws in the set period leading up to your application. You may not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 months leading up to your application, and must not be subject to any time limit on the period for which you may remain in the UK. You’ll also need to have sufficient knowledge of a British language, and be considered of good character.

Whilst ‘good character’ is not defined by the British Nationality Act 1981, Home Office nationality policy guidance provides a non-exhaustive list of conduct that would suggest an applicant does not meet the good character requirement. These include criminality, terrorism, dishonesty, deception, a poor financial track record and a negative immigration history.

If you fail to declare things that could be considered ‘bad character’, your application could be in serious jeopardy. This is why it is so important to engage expert immigration advice when making your application, so that your case can be presented in such a way to explain any areas of concern.

British citizenship by registration

For those who do not automatically qualify for British citizenship, it may be possible to apply for registration as a British citizen. This could be by entitlement, or on a discretionary basis.

To be entitled to register, you will need to satisfy one of a number of requirements. These requirements mainly rest upon whether you were born within or outside of the UK, the citizenship of your parents, and when you were born. Our immigration barristers will be able to advise you on your eligibility for registration as a British citizen, based on your individual circumstances.

It may also be possible to register as a British citizen if you have previously renounced British citizenship because you wished to acquire or retain another form of citizenship or nationality.

If you are not eligible to register as a British citizen by entitlement, you may still apply on a discretionary basis any time before your 18th birthday, or any time as a British overseas territories citizen.

Deprivation or revocation of British citizenship

If it has been alleged that British citizenship was acquired fraudulently or using a false identity, or if the Secretary of State believes that it would be in the best interests of the public to deprive an individual of their citizenship, perhaps because they have been convicted of a serious crime, then the Home Office will have the power to revoke or deprive them of that citizenship, which could ultimately result in their removal from the UK.

Deprivation or revocation of British citizenship is a very serious issue surrounded by highly complex legal principles. You will need high level representation from experienced immigration specialists if you are to retain your citizenship in these circumstances. But it is by no means impossible.

How Imperium Chambers can help

At Imperium Chambers, our specialist immigration barristers have assisted numerous foreign nationals in attaining British citizenship, including in many highly complex cases. We also have a respected track record of success in overturning refused citizenship applications, either through submitting fresh applications, or by representing applicants in appeals or judicial reviews.

In highly charged situations where British citizenship has been revoked or deprived, we work swiftly to engage with the Secretary of State, presenting robust evidence in support of retaining the citizenship status.

Looking to apply for or defend your British citizenship? Contact our immigration specialists today on 0207 242 3488, or complete our enquiry form below.

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