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Applying for Citizenship in the UK
If you are planning to apply for citizenship or naturalisation as others call it, take advice from your local CAB or a citizenship bureau. Unless you can apply for citizenship on the basis of ancestry, you will probably have to apply on the basis of having been in the UK for five years, or for three years as the spouse or registered civil partner of a UK citizen.
If you aren’t married to a British citizen, to apply for citizenship in the UK you must meet the following requirements:
- Be aged 18 or older and of sound mind.
- Be of good character.
- Be able to speak English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic (This requirement does have exemptions, such as if you’re elderly or have a mental health problem.)
- Intend to live in the UK or abroad working for a UK Government organisation, or be employed by an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or be employed by a company or association established in the United Kingdom.
- Have lived in the UK for at least five years before the date your application reaches the Home Office.
- Have not been outside the UK for more than 450 days in total (about 15 months) during that time.
- Have not been outside the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months of that 5 years.
- Have held permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain in the UK during the last 12 months of the five-year period.
- Have not been living in the UK in breach of the UK immigration rules at any time during the five years.
If you apply for citizenship after three years in the UK, as a spouse of a UK Citizen (or the partner of a UK citizen if you’ve registered a civil partnership), the requirements are very similar to the preceding ones (except, of course, that you have lived in the UK for only three years before your application date). During that time, you must not have been outside the UK for more than 270 days.
In addition to the preceding requirements, you also have to pass the Life in the UK test before you can apply for citizenship. The test is a series of 24 questions based on Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship, which you can buy from bookshops or Amazon. The book covers UK history, Government and laws, religious and ethnic diversity, the role of women, language courses, information on the test, and where you can get help and information.
If your language skills aren’t up to the required standard, you may have to take language and citizenship classes. Under the Nationality Immigration Act 2002, anyone applying for UK citizenship has to demonstrate that he has a knowledge of English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic and of life in the UK through the test.
The UK has 90 test centres, and you will need to take documents that have a photograph to verify your identity. You also pay a £34 fee to take the 45-minute test. If you want more information, call the Life in the UK Test Helpline on 0800- 015-4245 or go to the Home Office Web site at www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk.
If you pass the test, you receive a pass notification letter, which you must attach to your citizenship application form and send both to the Home Office. If you fail the test, you can sit it again.
About 90,000 people successfully apply each year to become British citizens, and they each have to take part in a Citizenship Ceremony where they swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and promise to respect the UK’s rights and freedoms. Ceremonies are held in towns and cities around the UK.