What is British Citizenship by Marriage?
British citizenship by marriage is the naturalisation route for overseas nationals who are married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen.
Obtaining citizenship via this route is the final step towards permanently settling in the UK with your partner. After you become naturalised as a British citizen, you can live, work and study in the UK without being subject to immigration controls.
Further to this, there will be no limit on the amount of time that you can spend outside of the UK. You will be able to leave and re-enter as many times as is needed, without having to apply for a visa.
This particular naturalisation route is only open to those who are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen. You must have been continuously resident in the UK for at least three years before applying.
What are the eligibility requirements for British citizenship by marriage?
If you are the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen or permanent resident, British citizenship by marriage is the route to settlement.
In order to apply for citizenship via this route, there are a number of eligibility requirements that must first be satisfied.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have passed the Life in the UK test in order to demonstrate an awareness of British culture, customs and history
- Be permanently resident in the UK through possessing Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- Have resided in the UK for a minimum of three years
- Have demonstrated the ‘Good Character’ requirement by way of having not committed any offences, either in the UK or overseas
- Be aged 18 or over at the time of applying
- Demonstrated the necessary level of aptitude in the English language by passing an accredited exam
What is the British Citizenship ceremony and will I need to attend?
Anyone over the age of 18 who makes a successful application for British nationality will be invited to attend a British citizenship ceremony. Once you receive your invitation from the Home Office, you will have to book your ceremony within three months. It is compulsory to attend a ceremony if you have been granted British citizenship.
Your citizenship ceremony will be organised by your local authority. The ceremonies are group events by default; however, it is possible to apply for an individual ceremony.
You will be permitted to bring two guests to your ceremony. Once your invitation has been received, you will need to liaise with your local authority. It is important to bring your invitation with you as you may asked to prove your identity.
The group ceremony costs £80. You will need to contact your local authority about the price of an individual ceremony; however, it will be notably more expensive than the group version. The ceremony itself will require you to make an oath of allegiance and a pledge. You will then receive a certificate.
Do I need to be considered a settled person in order to obtain British citizenship by marriage?
In order to be eligible for citizenship via marriage, it is crucial that you have resided in the UK for a minimum of three years prior to the date of your application. However, it is even more important that you possess Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and are deemed a settled person as a result.
ILR is the penultimate step towards British citizenship. In order to apply for naturalisation, an individual must have been classed as a settled person for 12 months.
In order to apply for British nationality, you must hold one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- EU Settled Status
- EEA Permanent Residence
It is important to bear in mind that you will be asked to provide proof of your status as part of your application for British citizenship.
Is it important that I possess the ‘Good Character’ requirement to be eligible for citizenship?
The British citizenship application process places emphasis on an individual contributing positively to the UK. The ‘Good Character’ requirement plays an important role in determining this; it pertains to whether an individual has respected and obeyed UK law since first arriving in the country.
An application will be refused in the applicant has a recent and severe custodial sentence in excess of four years. The same rules apply to immigration-related offences, something looked upon with huge importance when deciding whether or not to approve an application. An applicant guilty of entering the country illegally or any other offence in the ten years proceeding their application will be refused.
If you have been imprisoned for between 12 months and four years, it will have an effect on your citizenship application unless more than 15 years have passed since your sentence ended.
I want to apply for British citizenship by marriage. How do I proceed?
For those that wish to naturalise through marriage, the first step is to complete the application form. For this naturalisation route, Form AN must be completed. This can be done online.
Once the application form has been submitted to the Home Office and your fees have been paid, the next step is to book an appointment at your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre. This is so you can record your digital information.
You will need to obtain both your fingerprints and digital photographs so they can be submitted as part of your application. You will also be able to scan and submit a copy of your documentation.
For individuals who do not wish to apply online, you are able to submit your application form, supporting documentation and paper payment slip to the Home Office.
Is it possible to obtain British citizenship via marriage?
Being married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen does not automatically enable you to obtain British nationality.
If your intention is to make the UK your home and settle permanently with your partner, you must follow a naturalisation route.
There are a number of eligibility criteria that must be satisfied if you decide to apply for naturalisation. The criteria are somewhat unique for the citizenship through marriage route, as you only need to have resided in the UK for three years. In most situations, the qualifying period is five years.
If you satisfy the criteria, you will be able to proceed with the application stage of the naturalisation process.
This will involve the form being completed and your supporting documents being submitted.
What is meant by the ‘Sound Mind’ requirement?
All individuals that apply for British citizenship must satisfy the ‘Sound Mind’ requirement in order to be successful. To be considered of sound mind, you must be able to understand what becoming a British citizenship entails and how it differs from your current status.
There are some circumstances in which the Home Office will consider an applicant to be exempt from the Sound Mind requirement. An example would be if it was in an individual’s best interest to be granted naturalisation.
In situations where an application is being completed on behalf of someone who is not of sound mind, you will need to enclose a letter explaining that you are the legal representative of that person. You must also provide documentation that explains their mental condition.
I have received my citizenship certificate. What should my next steps be?
The next steps after receiving your citizenship certificate will be to return your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the Home Office. It is important that you do this within five working days of receiving your certificate.
You should enclose a note that explains to the Home Office why you are returning your BRP. Failure to return your permit within this timeframe will result in a fine of £1000.
Upon citizenship being granted, you will no longer be able to use your permit as a means of gaining entry to the UK. You will be able to use your certificate for this until you receive your passport.
If you do not intend to apply for a passport, you can apply for a Certificate of Entitlement.
How long does the British citizenship via marriage application process take?
Once your application has been submitted to the Home Office, you ought to expect a decision within six months. However, this timeframe can vary in relation to both the number of applications being received, and the complexity of your application.
Further to this, your application may experience delays if you fail to provide all necessary supporting documentation, or if you make any errors in the application.
If your personal situation changes once your application has been submitted, it is important that you contact the Home Office immediately to inform them.
What are the costs involved with British citizenship via marriage?
It costs £1,300 to submit an application for British citizenship through marriage.
As submitting your biometric information to the Home Office is a necessary requirement in order to be granted citizenship, you will need to have this information collected. This costs £19.20.
The application process will likely involve other fees, such as the cost of your English language exam.
Further to this, it will cost if you need your documents professionally translated into English or Welsh.
How much time must I have spent in the UK to be eligible for British citizenship via marriage?
The rules of residency for British citizenship via marriage differ somewhat from other naturalisation routes. You are able to submit an application for citizenship as the spouse of a British person after three years of continuous, lawful residence in the UK. You must have held ILR or permanent resident status for the last 12 months of this time period.
You must also satisfy the rules of residence. To this end, you must not have:
- Been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in the 12 months prior to submitting your application
- Been outside the UK for more than 270 days during the three-year qualifying period
- Contravened any UK immigration laws during your period of residency in the UK
If I am married to a British citizen, can I apply for a British passport?
Being married to a British citizen does not give you the ability to apply for a British passport. However, if your application for citizenship is granted, you can commence a passport application immediately. For those that hold a British child passport, it can be used until it expires.
A passport proves your status as a UK citizen. It is valid for ten years, and can be used as a form of identification when travelling abroad.
If you are successful in your applications for both citizenship and a passport, you will be able to leave and re-enter the country as many times as you need, without the need to apply for a visa.
The online application costs £75.50, whereas the paper form costs £85.
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If you are successful in your application for British citizenship but are based outside of the UK. You can request to attend a citizenship ceremony in your nearest embassy or consulate.
If you are temporarily out of the UK when your application is approved, there is a possibility that your ceremony will be postponed until you return. However, it is still just as important that it is booked within three months of receiving your invitation.
Our team of exceptional London immigration lawyers possess a wealth of experience in assisting with naturalisation applications of all kinds. We understand the immense importance of having a secure future with your spouse. As a result, we will guide you through the application process step by step, ensuring you receive the outcome you desire.
As part of our services, you will receive:
- A thorough documentation check to ensure that all necessary paperwork is in place
- A Letter of Representation that will outline the strengths of your application to the Home Office, drawing attention to relevant laws in support of your case
- Help with preparing for the Life in the UK test and English language exam
- Checks to ensure that you have the necessary proof of your marriage or civil partnership
- The completion of your application form to the highest standard
The amount of time it takes to naturalise as a British citizen through marriage varies. Once your application has been submitted, it can take around a month to receive confirmation from the Home Office.
Once you receive this confirmation, it usually takes around six months to be given a decision on whether or not your application has been successful. As part of the process, you may be required to attend an interview.
If your application is successful, you will receive a citizenship certificate. Once this has been obtained, you will be able to commence a British passport application.