Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain is the penultimate step on the route to becoming a full British citizen. For anyone wishing to naturalise as a British citizen, ILR is a crucial part of the process.
If you’ve just been granted ILR and your ultimate goal is to naturalise as a British national, you might be wondering whether you can apply for citizenship as soon as you’ve obtained permanent residence. This all depends on whether you’re married to a British citizen or not.
If so, then you can apply right away. On the other hand, if you aren’t married to a British national then you’ll need to live in the UK with ILR for a specified period of time before you’re eligible to apply for full citizenship.
How long do I need to hold ILR before I can apply for full British citizenship?
As mentioned previously, ILR is a stepping stone along the path to eventually becoming a full British citizen. Once you’ve obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain and you’ve been in the UK for a specified period of time, you can then make an application to become a full British citizen.
If you want to apply for full British citizenship, in most circumstances you must have held Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months before you’re eligible.
If you’re married to a British citizen, you aren’t required to wait for a year to apply. Instead, once you’ve obtained ILR, provided you meet all the other requirements then you’re free to make your application for full British citizenship straight away.
What’s the difference between ILR and full British citizenship?
Holding Indefinite Leave to Remain is a type of permanent residency that allows you to live, work and study in the UK without any immigration restrictions or time limits on your stay. On the whole, holding ILR isn’t too dissimilar to having full citizenship, although there are some additional benefits that come with being a full British citizen.
While ILR allows you to live permanently in the UK without restrictions, you won’t be given a British passport. This privilege is reserved for full British citizens only.
Likewise, those who have ILR status aren’t allowed to vote in local or general elections.
Another drawback of ILR is that it can be withdrawn if the holder spends longer than 2 years out of the country. On the contrary, those who hold full British citizenship do so for life, meaning they can spend as much time away from the UK as they please.
Other requirements for British citizenship
According to British law, there are a number of criteria you must meet in order to naturalise as a UK national. These include the following:
- Must be 18 or over
- Must have been living in the UK for at least 5 years with no longer than 450 days outside the country during that time
- Must have held ILR in the UK for at least 12 months (unless married to a British citizen)
- Must meet B1 CEFR English language requirement (unless you’re exempt)
- Must not have breached any immigration rules while in the UK
- Must pass the Life in the UK test
- Must demonstrate you meet the ‘Good Character’ requirement
Once you meet all of these requirements, you are then free to make an application for British citizenship. If you fall short of any of the criteria, chances are your application will be rejected, although in rare cases the Home Office may take exceptional circumstances into consideration.
What’s the ‘Good Character’ requirement?
As part of your application to become a British citizen, you’ll need to demonstrate you’re a person of ‘good character’. While it sounds straightforward, you might be asking yourself what exactly this part of the application process entails.
Basically, this means you must not have any severe or recent criminal convictions. If you have criminal convictions on your record, then depending on the severity of the crime(s) committed, along with the punishment you received and the length of time that’s passed since your conviction, you may be ineligible to apply for British citizenship.
When assessing an application, the Home Office will take into account any positive contribution you’ve made to society, so in rare circumstances even those with criminal convictions may be able to make a convincing case they should be allowed to naturalise as a UK national. With that said, keep in mind that this is a complex process and would usually require legal assistance.
How can your Newcastle immigration lawyers help me?
Now you’ve read through our guide, hopefully you now have a good understanding of how long you should wait before applying for British citizenship. However, if you require any additional information on this topic you’d like some help with making an application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.
We specialise in this area of immigration law, and we can guide you through the process or provide information to determine your eligibility, ensuring you have the best chances of success in your application to become a British citizen.
For more information on how we can assist, speak to us today on 0191 303 8965
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