In order to apply for British citizenship, you must first obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) in the UK. How quickly you obtain ILR will depend on the type of visa that you have. For most visa categories, you must complete a continuous period of five years’ residence in the UK under that category before being eligible to apply for ILR.
There are certain visa categories, however, under which you might qualify for ILR in less than five years. For example, certain Innovator Founder and Global Talent visa holders may be able to apply for ILR after three years of continuous residence in the UK. Similarly, for those on Tier 1 (Investor) visas, it may be possible to qualify for ILR after two continuous years via investment of £10 million, or after three continuous years via investment of £5 million. However, it is not possible to apply for Tier 1 (Investor) visa anymore.
If you have qualified for ILR based on a 5-year route and you are not married to an existing British citizen, you will need to wait a further 12 months before being eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. You cannot be absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 month period immediately preceding the date of your application. Also, you cannot be absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the intervening five year period. If you are married to a British citizen, you can apply for British Citizenship by naturalisation as soon as you have been granted ILR.
If you have qualified for ILR based on a 2- or 3-year route, you will need to wait until you have been resident in the UK for at least five years before being eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen.
Although having ILR enables you to live and work in the UK without restrictions, ILR can be lost if you cease to be ordinarily resident in the UK. Obtaining British citizenship can, therefore, provide greater certainty, and this is a key factor for many individuals considering naturalisation.
Applications for naturalisation as a British Citizen can take up to 6 months to be determined. Once you have applied for British citizenship, you can travel outside the UK while your application is being considered. When you apply for British Citizenship, you can submit a full certified copy of your passport and keep your original passport with you. You can then use your original valid passport to travel overseas.
A naturalisation application does not provide you with immigration permission and you will need to demonstrate an entitlement to re-enter the UK at the UK border. Therefore, you should also travel with evidence of your ILR, or other valid immigration status.
You should keep in mind that you will usually be required to enrol your biometric information within 45 days of submitting your British citizenship application. This may involve attending a biometrics appointment in person. Failure to provide biometric information when required will invalidate your application.
You may also wish to keep in mind that if your British citizenship application is approved, you will have 90-days in which to arrange attendance at a citizenship ceremony in the UK.
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