Every year, thousands of people from overseas apply for citizenship in the UK.
In fact, last year there were 175,891 applications for British citizenship. An increase of 24 per cent from the previous year.
That’s a lot of people committing to a life in the UK.
Not surprisingly, most of the applicants are from non-EU countries. But there has been an increase from EU citizens in recent years.
Also, people that initially move to the UK for family reasons usually become citizens faster than those that move for work or to study. Clearly, the more personal connections a person has to a country, the more likely they are to want to stay there long-term.
If you’re thinking about joining the club and becoming a British citizen, you’re probably wondering how the process works.
Let’s start by looking at who can become a British citizen and then how to apply.
Becoming a British citizen is a process called “naturalisation”.
But not everyone is eligible, and most people have to live in the UK for several years before they can consider it.
Depending on your initial visa route, here are the main criteria to be able to apply:
There are other ways to become a citizen as well.
For example, if you have a British parent, if you have a connection with Gibraltar or you’re a Hong Kong resident.
For the Gibraltar connection, you may already be a British citizen if you registered there as an overseas territories citizen before 21 May 2002.
For Hong Kong residents, you must have been living there on 3 February 1997. If you were born after this date, then your parents must have been Hong Kong residents at this time.
There are also opportunities for some Commonwealth citizens to apply for naturalisation through the Windrush Scheme. To be eligible for this visa route, you or one of your parents must have arrived in the UK before 1973.
These are just a few examples of how to become a British citizen.
As each individual situation is unique, there are different criteria and exceptions to consider. To find out more, visit the government website for a full overview of who can apply.
As part of the application process, you have to pass the Life in the UK test. This is a set of 24 questions about British life and customs.
A handbook is provided for this and it’s a good idea to study the material in preparation for the test. If you fail, you will have to take the test again.
Moving on to the actual application, the form can be found online on the UK government website. You’ll also have to provide a photo and fingerprints to the UK Visa and Citizenship Applications Services (UKVCAS).
You can either submit the application yourself or hire a representative to do it for you.
But if you’re in a British overseas territory, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, the online application is not an option. You will have to apply in person or by post.
As with most visa-related formalities, there is a waiting time for applications. But most people get a decision within six months.
And finally, there is a fee to apply for British citizenship. It costs £1,300 for an adult and £1,012 for a child. Plus £19.20 for the biometric information.
Once the hard part is over and the application has been approved, the final step is the citizenship ceremony.
During the ceremony, you have to swear an oath of allegiance to the UK. You’ll then receive the certificate of citizenship and a welcome pack.
It’s an official way to welcome new citizens to the UK and to mark the milestone event after all the bureaucracy has been completed.
After all, for most people, getting British citizenship doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort, so the ceremony is a fitting way to mark the occasion.
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