The Path to British Citizenship: Naturalisation

Becoming a British citizen is a significant milestone for many immigrants who have made the United Kingdom their home. Naturalisation is the process through which foreign nationals can attain British citizenship, granting them with the rights and privileges enjoyed by UK citizens. At Davenport Solicitors, we are pleased to assist individuals on their journey to British citizenship through the naturalisation process.

Understanding Naturalisation

Naturalisation is the legal process that allows individuals from foreign countries to become British citizens. It is a significant step for those who have lived and worked in the UK for an extended period, often following years of residency under various visa categories.

Naturalisation requires early planning, especially given its residency requirement, which is distinct from Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residency). On average, you should not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in each year of the 5 years prior to your application for citizenship. 

Benefits of British Citizenship

Compared to permanent residence, British citizenship offers additional advantages. British citizens overseas are under protection of the United Kingdon and enjoy visa-free entry to many countries. British citizenship may only be deprived of under specific circumstances, such as for the public good or national security. In contrast, permanent residency may be lost if the individual is absent from the UK for a certain period of time. 

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for naturalisation, an applicant must meet specific eligibility criteria, including:

  • Age: Applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application. Children need to apply separately, and the process is called ‘registration’, which entails different criteria from naturalisation.
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): Applicants must hold ILR or settled status for 12 months. They do not need to wait 12 months to apply if they are married to a British citizen.
  • Residence: 
  • Applicants must have lived in the UK for at least five years before application. 
  • They must also be physically present in the UK (including the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) exactly on the day 5 years before the application is received by the Home Office.

For example, if you apply online for naturalisation on 20 June 2022, the Home Office will receive your application on the same day. You must have been physically present in the UK on 21 June 2017.

  • The applicant must not spend more than 450 days outside the UK in the 5-year period, and not more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12-month period before making the application. 

If the applicant is married to a British citizen

  • They must have lived in the UK for 3 years
  • Must have been physically present exactly on the day 3 years ago
  • Must not spend more than 270 days outside the UK in the 3-year period, and not more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12-month period before making the application.

If the applicant has excessive absence from the UK, they may still be eligible if they can provide explanations for their absence and demonstrate a subsisting strong connection to the UK, such as business, family, real estate, and so forth.

  • Good Character: Applicants must be of good character, without serious criminal convictions.
  • Language and Life in the UK Test: Applicants must attain a B1 level in the English language, as per the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Applicants who have met this requirement in their previous applications (for example, Skilled workers or Students), are not required to demonstrate it again. 

Applicants must also pass the Life in the UK test, which is a computer-based test to evaluate their knowledge of British culture, traditions and everyday life.

You may be exempt from both of English and Life in the UK test requirements if you are aged 65 or above, or meet other exempt conditions, such as disabilities.

  • Intent to Remain: Applicants must intend to continue living in the UK after obtaining British citizenship.
  • Application endorsed by two referees: one can be of any nationality but must be a professional person; the other must be the holder of a British citizen passport, either a professional person or over the age of 25. Each referee must not be related to you or the other referee. They must not have any unspent convictions.


The application fee for naturalisation is £1630 (including £80 for a citizenship ceremony). A decision is usually made within approximately 6 months. You need to notify the nationality contact centre via if your situation changes while your application is being considered (for example, you move house, get married or are arrested).

If the application is successful, the applicant will be invited to a citizenship ceremony where they will take an oath or pledge and at the end will be presented with a certificate of British citizenship.

How Davenport Solicitors Can Help

Navigating the naturalisation process can be complex and time-consuming. Davenport Solicitors boasts a team of immigration experts experienced in guiding clients through the process, ensuring all criteria are satisfied. We assist in the preparation of a strong application, review documentation, and offer advice on meeting the requirements.

Contact us for your enquiries of becoming a British citizen.

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