Before Applying for Citizenship
Before making a formal application for British citizenship applicants should ensure that they satisfy all eligibility criteria. They will also have to have taken, and passed, either the Life in the UK Test or the combined English for Speakers of Other Languages and citizenship classes course. Applicants for UK citizenship will fail if they have not passed either the test or a course before they make their application.
Eligibility for UK Citizenship by Naturalisation
The application for British Citizenship by naturalisation is made using form AN.
To be eligible for British citizenship by way of naturalisation applicants must:
- Be aged at least 18 and of sound mind;
- Intend to continue to live in the UK;
- Be able to speak English to an acceptable level. Applicants can also satisfy this requirement if they are able to communicate in one of the other languages of the UK: Welsh or Scottish Gaelic;
- Have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK;
- Be of good character – this relates to whether or not an applicant has any relevant criminal convictions; and,
- Satisfy the residence criteria.
The Residential Qualifying Period
The starting point for satisfying the residence criteria for British citizenship is that the applicant has lived in the UK, with permission, for five years – this is the ‘residential qualifying period’.
An applicant for citizenship must also have been in the UK on the date which fell five years before the date on which they make their application. When considering applications for citizenship the relevant date is the date on which the application is received by the UK Border Agency. This means that applicants must physically have been in the UK precisely five years before the date on which the application is received. If they were not, the application will fail even if all other eligibility criteria are met. Timing when the application is submitted could be crucial to its success.
The residence requirement can still be satisfied even if the applicant has spent substantial periods of time outside the UK during the residential qualifying period. To remain eligible under the residential requirement applicants:
- must not have been out of the UK for more than 450 days in the whole of the five year period; and,
- must not have been out of the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months of the five-year qualifying period.
Applicants must also not have been in breach of any of the immigration rules during the five-year qualifying period.
Applying for UK Citizenship
Once applicants are satisfied that they meet all criteria they should complete form AN in block capitals using either a black or a dark blue pen. Many local authorities provide a service whereby they will check forms to ensure that they have been filled in correctly. A fee may be payable for this service.
Form AN in divided into six sections – not all applicants have to fill in all sections. Sections 1 to 3 and 5 and 6 are to be completed by all applicants. Section 4 only relates to applicants whose application for citizenship is based on Crown service.
Sections 1 to 3 cover personal information, residence requirements and good character. All sections must be filled as completely as possible. Special care should be taken when providing personal information as this will be used when preparing the certificate of naturalisation which is the proof of British citizenship.
Section 5 of the form requires the applicant to provide a full face passport photograph. This section also requires the applicant to give the names and details of two referees who have known the applicant for three years. One applicant must be a “professional” and the other must be a British passport holder who is either at least 25 years old or a professional. The UK Border Agency website contains a list of all professions which qualify an individual to be a referee.
Section 6 requires the applicant to give a signed declaration in support of their application. The form should be dated and all relevant documents which prove that the eligibility criteria are satisfied must be submitted with the form.
Paying the Fee
The fee for the application must be paid at the time the application is submitted and may be paid by debit or credit card, cheque, or transcash. A payment slip should be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website. The fees are non-refundable.