British citizenship after Indefinite Leave to Remain
Indefinite Leave to Remain status gives you the right to permanent residence in the UK. This means that those with ILR status are able to live and work in the UK without being restricted to a time limit.
For those who wish to apply for naturalisation to become a British citizen, being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK is a key step, and often signifies the beginning of their life in the UK. Holding Indefinite Leave to Remain is one of the many requirements that an individual must meet when applying for naturalisation as a British citizen.
If you are successfully granted British citizenship after Indefinite Leave to Remain, then as well as having a right to permanent residency in the UK, you will be afforded the rights of any other British citizen.
Can I apply for British citizenship straight after ILR?
You can apply for British citizenship straight after you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are married to a British citizen or are in a civil partnership with a British national. However, if you are not married to a British citizen, then UK immigration laws state that you need to wait for at least 12 months after being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before you can apply for British citizenship.
This is because one of the requirements is for you to have been free from immigration restrictions for at least a 12 month period. If you have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme then you must also usually wait at least 12 months until you can apply to become a British citizen. You must also be at least 18 years old before you can apply to become a British citizen.
It usually takes around 6 years for an individual to become eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. This is because you will usually have had to live in the UK for five years before being eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain and then will need to hold ILR for at least another 12 months before you can make a naturalisation application. However, this timescale does vary depending on your specific circumstances and it may take less or more time to get British citizenship.
How can I apply to naturalise as a British citizen?
Overseas nationals can be eligible to become a British citizen through a process called naturalisation. To naturalise as a British citizen you will usually need to have resided in the UK for at least 5 years. You will also need to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain status and usually need to hold this for at least 12 months before you can apply for citizenship.
As well as holding ILR and residing in the UK for at least 5 years, there are a number of other requirements that you must show the Home Office you can meet to be eligible for British citizenship. These include:
- You must not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five year residency period
- You meet the good character requirement
- You have not broken any immigration laws whilst you have been living in the UK
- You can prove your knowledge of the English language
- You have not spent more than 90 days outside the UK during the 12 months prior to your citizenship application
- You must intend for the UK to be your permanent home
- You must have passed the Life in the UK test
You can apply for naturalisation online using the form available on the gov.uk website, or you can also apply by post. As part of your British nationality application, you will need to submit a portfolio of supporting evidence to prove that you can meet each of the above requirements.
Naturalising as the Spouse of a British citizen
You can be eligible to apply for British citizenship straight after being awarded Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are married to a British national, and you only need to have lived in the UK for at least three years before your application. Individuals who are applying for British citizenship that are married to a British citizen must also be able to meet a number of other requirements to be eligible.
These requirements include:
- Not being absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the three-year qualifying period
- Not being in breach of UK immigration rules whilst you have lived in the UK during the three years
- Meeting the good character requirement
- Being able to demonstrate your knowledge of English
- Not being absent from the UK for more than 90 days during the 12 months before the date of your application
What are the benefits of applying for British citizenship after Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Although both Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship will give you the right to live in the UK free of any time limits, they do differ and becoming a British citizen comes with its own unique benefits.
Once you are granted British citizenship by naturalisation and have had your citizenship ceremony, you will have the same rights as any other British citizen. This means that you will be entitled to apply for a British passport. You can use this to travel freely in and out of the country and will not lose your right to return if you are outside the UK for more than two years, unlike those who hold ILR status.
As well as this you will have the right to vote in all UK elections and referendums, will be able to stand for office and can get British nationality for your children if they’re born outside the UK. Your children born in the UK will also automatically be British citizens.
How can I obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain is a vital step if you wish to apply for citizenship. As well as being a vital step in your journey towards British citizenship, an immigration status of Indefinite Leave to Remain will allow you to begin your life in the country by giving you the right to live in the UK permanently.
To obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain you usually need to have lived in the UK for a set period of time under a relevant route. There are many routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain that overseas nationals may be eligible for, just a few include the:
- Spouse Visa
- Unmarried Partner Visa
- Family Visa
- Innovator Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Intra-Company Transfer Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Retired Person Visa
- Long residence
- Returning resident
The minimum time threshold that you must live in the UK for before being eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) varies depending on the route that you will be using to apply. In most cases, you will be able to apply after living in the UK for a five year period. You can apply after only three years if you have lived in the UK under an Exceptional Talent Visa.
As well as meeting the residency requirement you will also need to meet the other requirements, including demonstrating your knowledge of the English language, passing the Life in the UK test and not having absences from the UK of 90 days or more in the 12 months prior to your application.
Do you need help with your British citizenship application?
Applying for British citizenship by naturalisation is an incredibly complex process. You will need to fill in the application form and prove that you can meet a number of strict requirements by providing a strong portfolio of supporting evidence. Absences from the UK, breaches of immigration restrictions and failure to show that you can meet the other requirements to become a British citizen can result in your application being rejected. This can be incredibly disheartening given the vast amount of time and money that you will have spent.
Getting the assistance of a good immigration lawyer can be the difference between a successful application and an unsuccessful application. Our London immigration lawyers are experienced in helping thousands of their clients to successfully apply for British citizenship. Our lawyers can make an application for British citizenship on your behalf, they know exactly what it will take to make sure that your application is approved and will be there to guide you through the process and make it as stress-free as possible.
To get started on your British citizenship application today, simply get in touch with our immigration lawyers now on 020 4502 8582.