What is British citizenship by marriage?
This refers to the naturalisation of people from overseas who are married to or in a civil partnership with a British national.
Obtaining citizenship via this route is the last step you need to clear before you can settle with your partner in the UK permanently. Once you become naturalised, as a British citizen you are free to live, work or study in the UK without being subject to immigration controls.
Additionally, there will be no limits on the time allowed outside the country, which will mean you’re free to leave and re-enter the UK as many times as you like, without the need to apply for a UK visa.
You should bear in mind that being married to a British citizen doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll qualify to become a British citizen yourself. There are other criteria which you must first meet in order to naturalise.
Eligibility Requirements for British citizenship by Marriage
First, you must be married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen or permanent resident. In order to apply for British citizenship via this specific route, there are a number of requirements which you must first meet in order to qualify.
To be eligible to apply for citizenship via marriage, you must:
- Have passed the Life in the UK test that will demonstrate an understanding of the customs, culture and history of the United Kingdom
- Have a UK permanent residence status with possession of possession of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- Have lived in the UK for three years or more
- Demonstrate the ‘Good Character’ requirement by having not committed any criminal offences
- Be 18+
- Demonstrate a competence of both written and spoken English by passing an accredited exam
Residential Requirements for British citizenship through marriage
To qualify for British citizenship by marriage, you must have lived in the UK continuously for at least three years prior to making your application. You must also meet the residency conditions, which means you must not have done any of the following:
- Spent above the permitted 270 days outside the country during the three-year qualifying period before you making your application
- Spent more than 90 days abroad during the final 12 months of your qualifying period
- Broken any UK immigration laws at any time during your time spent in the United Kingdom
Further Details About the ‘Good Character’ Assessment
When making an application to become a British citizen, the process places an emphasis on the applicant making a positive contribution to British society. The ‘Good Character’ requirement plays a key role in determining this, and it shows the Home Office that the applicant has obeyed the laws and not committed any crime since arriving in the country.
When an application is made, the Home Office will generally take into account the following:
- Criminal convictions
- Breaking any immigration law
- Financial soundness
- War crimes or terrorism charges
In the event the applicant has a severe and recent custodial sentence of four years or more, the citizenship application will be denied outright. Likewise, any immigration-related offences will also cause the application to be rejected, as this is an area looked at with a great deal of importance when an application for citizenship is being assessed. Anyone found to be guilty of entering the country illegally or breaking rules pertaining to their immigration status will be rejected.
You should also bear in mind that any custodial sentence from 12 months to four years could also affect your citizenship application unless 15 years have passed since the end of your sentence.
Positive actions, such as any contribution you’ve made to society, will also be looked at. Therefore, if there’s anything you feel will add weight to your application then you should mention this during the ‘Good Character’ assessment.
How Long Should it Take to Obtain British Citizenship Through Marriage?
If you’re the spouse of a British citizen then you’ll be eligible to naturalise within three years. However, you should keep in mind that you must already be settled in the UK, and you must have spent at least five years in the country to be eligible for ILR.
Therefore, it will usually take at least five years to obtain British citizenship by marriage or civil partnership, but this may also increase depending on the waiting time for each stage of the application process.
First, you must apply for a spouse visa or an unmarried partner visa. If you are granted one of these then you’ll be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom for 2.5 years. After this period, if you want to remain in the UK then you need to apply for an extension to your visa.
After that, once you’ve been living in the UK for a minimum of five years then you’ll be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Once you have been grated ILR, you’re then eligible to make an application for citizenship and can naturalise as a British citizen via the route of marriage or civil partnership.
Once you’ve submitted your application for British citizenship, you should receive a decision from the Home Office within six months. However, please bear in mind that any missing documents or any mistakes or errors on your application are likely to cause delays.
If there are any changes to your circumstances while your application is being dealt with, you must inform the Home Office immediately. Failure to do so could result in you being prosecuted.
The British Citizenship Ceremony Explained
If you’re over the age of 18 and you make a successful application to naturalise as a British citizen, then you’ll be offered the chance to take part in a British citizenship ceremony. You’ll receive an invitation from the Home Office, and you’ll then need to book your ceremony with your local council within three months of receiving your invitation. It is compulsory to attend a ceremony if you’re granted citizenship.
When booking your citizenship ceremony with your local authority, you will be given the chance to book either a group or private citizenship ceremony. The standard group ceremony usually costs £80, while the private ceremonies will cost more. The exact amount will depend on your local authority as prices differ. For exact prices, contact the relevant local authority.
Those attending are allowed to bring up to two guests along to the ceremony. It’s important to take your invitation with you as you may need to show it to prove your identity.
When you attend the citizenship ceremony, you’ll be asked to swear an Oath of allegiance. Those who prefer not to swear a religious Oath can make an affirmation instead. Once the ceremony is complete, you’ll receive a welcome pack and a certificate.
Can Only Settled People Obtain citizenship by Marriage?
Those looking to become a British citizen by marriage need to have continually lived in the UK for at least three years prior to the submission of their citizenship application. In addition, they also need to hold Indefinite Leave to Remain and must be deemed a settled person as a result.
Once granted ILR, before applying for full British citizenship a person must have been a settled person for at least 12 months.
Before you can apply for full British citizenship, you must hold one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- EU Settled Status
- EEA Permanent Residence
Keep in mind you’ll be asked to provide proof of these when you’re making your application to become a British citizen.
How do I Apply for British citizenship by Marriage?
If you wish to use this naturalisation route, you must apply using the Form AN on the government’s official website.
Once you’ve submitted the From AN to the Home Office and the relevant fees have been paid, you’ll then need to book an appointment with the nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre. Here, they’ll record all of your digital information.
Both your fingerprints and digital photographs will be taken, which will then need to be submitted as part of your application. You can also scan and submit a copy of your documentation.
For those who prefer not to apply online, you can submit your application, along with supporting documentation and payment via post to the Home Office.
Costs and Fees
It costs £1,330 to apply for British citizenship by marriage.
In addition, there are some other costs you should also take into account before you make your citizenship application. These include:
- Life in the UK test – £50
- English test – £150
- Biometric information (fingerprints and photographs) taken – £19.20
- Translation of documents – costs may vary depending on documents
If your application for British citizenship is rejected, then unfortunately you won’t be refunded for the application fee. This is why it’s important to send all the correct and relevant documentation, and our immigration lawyers can help go over your citizenship application and make sure everything is in order to give you the best chance of success.
What is the Sound Mind Requirement?
Regardless of whether you pass the other requirements of the British citizenship application process, you must also be of a sound mind in order to qualify for British citizenship. This means you must both understand what becoming a British citizen entails and be capable of making your own decisions in the eyes of UK law.
In some rare circumstances, the Home Office may exempt some applicants from this stage. For example, if becoming a British citizen is in the applicant’s best interests, they may not have to meet the sound mind requirement.
If you’re completing the application for British citizenship on behalf of your spouse and they are not of a sound mind, you must provide an attached letter stating your position as the legal representative of the applicant, along with adequate documentation explaining his/her mental condition.
Completing the Life in the UK Test
Anyone making an application to become a British citizen must complete and pass the Life in the UK test. The test is designed to assess whether applicants can demonstrate a competent knowledge of British customs, history and culture.
The Life in the UK test is completed on a computer at one of 30 official test centres around the UK. Those taking the test will be asked 24 questions, and only those scoring at least 75% will receive a pass. Once you’ve passed the test, you’ll receive a certificate.
The Life in the UK test can be booked online. You must book it at least three days in advance.
Knowledge of the English Language
When you make an application to naturalise as a British citizen by marriage, you may need to prove you have a competent grasp of the English language.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Passing an accredited English language test from a registered centre
- Having a recognised degree that was taught in English
In some cases, you are not required to prove your knowledge of English. These are the following:
- You are over the age of 65
- You have a long-term mental of physical health condition that prevents you from doing so
- You’re a citizen from a country where English is an official language
What Happens When I Receive My Citizenship Certificate?
Once you’ve received your British citizenship certificate, the next step is to return your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the Home Office.
Make sure you do this within five working days of receiving your British citizenship certificate. Failure to do so will result in you receiving a £1000 fine. Additionally, you should also enclose a note explaining why you are returning your BRP.
After you have received your certificate, you can no longer use your permit to enter the country. However, you’ll b able to use your certificate until you receive your passport. If you do not wish to apply for a British passport then you can apply for a Certificate of Entitlement.
How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Here at Newcastle immigration lawyers, we know that the process to become a British citizen can be both a complex and stressful one, especially if you’re looking to settle with a loved one. Our Newcastle team of immigration lawyers are here to provide all their expertise and help make your journey towards gaining British citizenship as smooth as possible.
Based on your specific circumstances, a dedicated case worker will assess your case and investigate all the options to help you naturalise as a British citizen.
Your lawyer will also ensure there are no issues with your British citizenship by marriage application, avoiding any unnecessary delays and guaranteeing your documentation is submitted without any mistakes.
Your dedicated Newcastle immigration lawyer will assess your case, establish whether you’re eligible and help you collate all the required documentation. In addition, they will also write a Letter of Representation and complete your British citizenship application to the highest of standards.
Call us on 020 4502 8582 or fill out the online form to enquire or to begin your British citizenship by marriage application.
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Once you’ve received the certificate stating you’re a British citizen, you are then eligible to apply for your first British passport. If you hold a British child passport, then you can still use that until it expires. An adult passport usually lasts for 10 years and can be used as proof you’re a British citizen.
Children automatically obtain British citizenship if they’re born in the United Kingdom to at least one parent who is a UK national or settled person.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to apply to become a British citizen if your partner dies before your forms are submitted. However, if you hold ILR, permanent residence or Settled Status, then it may be possible to naturalise via other immigration routes.
To apply for British citizenship through marriage, you must have been living in the UK for a minimum of three years before you make your application. You must also be a settled before you can naturalise as a British citizen.
Before applying, you must hold one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Settled Status
- Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (permission to move to the UK from another country)
When you make your application for British citizenship, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your residence status
If your application to become a UK citizen is rejected, the Home Office will write to you outlining the reasons why. Although there is no right of appeal, if you believe the decision is wrong or should be reviewed then you can request for this to be done using the form NR on the gov.uk website.
You won’t receive a refund if your application for British citizenship by marriage is rejected.