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    How to apply for British citizenship after Indefinite Leave to Remain?


    The most common way for an adult to obtain citizenship in the United Kingdom is by applying for naturalisation after receiving Indefinite Leave to Remain. As one might expect, the process is rather tricky and includes lots of details the person must discover beforehand. The policies can be rather strict, so it is vital to approach the matter carefully and learn every requirement before submitting the application for citizenship.

    ILR vs British citizenship

    First things first, it is important to distinguish between two types of permission to reside in the United Kingdom. Citizenship is a step up on the ladder compared to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Every right and benefit of ILR is also available for citizens but not the other way around. Thus, there are several advantages of British citizenship over ILR.

    Essentially, British citizenship cancels most limits that are set for holders of ILR, which is the main difference between ILR and citizenship. A citizen is capable of voting, leaving the country for more than two years without compromising their status, and receives many other opportunities, even taking into account that ILR already provides significant rights to a person residing in the UK. There are several minor differences between ILR and citizenship that should be discovered separately.

    A passport is not granted automatically upon becoming a citizen. It is proof of identity and citizenship as well as a travel document that can be used for international travel as a British citizen. This is one of the advantages of becoming a British citizen.

    When can I apply for a British passport after ILR?

    As ILR is the highest tier of permission to remain in the UK, it has its own set of requirements that should be reviewed separately. For those who have not obtained ILR yet, it might be reasonable to focus on that application first.

    Once ILR is obtained, the person will normally need to hold it for at least a year. After this period passes, the holder becomes eligible to apply for citizenship. The same rule is applied to immigrants with EU Settled status. For people who are married to or in a civil partnership with a citizen of the United Kingdom, there is no requirement to wait for one year before applying for citizenship.

    It is also necessary to establish that applying for a British passport with only Indefinite Leave to Remain is impossible: the person needs to obtain citizenship first. As soon as a person receives their nationality certificate confirming their British citizenship, they are eligible to apply separately for a British passport.

    Requirements for British citizenship after ILR

    As one might expect, there are many requirements a person has to comply with in order to obtain British citizenship after ILR. The primary one of them is that the person must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain in the first place. The applicant has to hold ILR for at least a year before their application, unless they are married to or in a civil partnership with a citizen of the UK. It is also necessary to prove that the person has been in the United Kingdom for five years before the application, which is often also a requirement for ILR.

    There are several other requirements such as proficiency in English language, passing the Life in the UK test, and the good character requirement. Some of these are also required for ILR It is necessary to keep in mind that the Home Office will require the applicant to prove they comply with these requirements for a citizenship application as well.

    There are specific requirements related to previous travel overseas. There are some restrictions that should also be taken into account. Firstly, a person who is not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen is not allowed to have spent more than 450 days outside the country over the course of five years prior to submitting the application and they must have been present in the UK exactly five years ago. For a person married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, the threshold is 270 days in the last three years and they must have been present in the UK three years ago. Throughout the twelve-month period before application, the applicant should not spend more than 90 days overseas.

    How to apply for a British passport after receiving British citizenship?

    Once the person becomes a British citizen, there is a separate process for obtaining a passport. It is necessary to complete a form. There is a choice of completing a paper form or an online form specified by HM Passport Office. The applicant must pay the corresponding fee, and provide the required documents. Such documents include a photo for the passport, the proof of citizenship, an identity confirmation, and others depending on how citizenship was obtained among other factors. Applications for a first adult passport are normally reviewed within ten weeks.

    How can we help?

    Sterling Law offers all the help required to make the process easier and more efficient. Our lawyers are ready to assist whatever your basis for applying for citizenship. Our experts have hundreds of successful immigration cases within their experience and can provide assistance on any stage of the process. You can have a consultation online or visit our office in London. Fill out the form on this page, and we’ll reach out to you in no time.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    If I have settled status can I apply for a British passport?

    Yes, if you have Settled Status you are eligible to apply for British citizenship. However, it’s crucial to note that, in addition to having Settled Status, you must also satisfy other requirements for obtaining British citizenship, including demonstrating “good character” and meeting the English language proficiency requirement.

    Can I apply for UK citizenship after ILR?

    Yes, upon being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you become eligible to apply for British citizenship, provided you fulfil the requisite eligibility criteria.

    What are the eligibility requirements for applying for UK citizenship after ILR?

    In order to meet the requirements for British citizenship after obtaining ILR, you must have resided in the UK for a minimum of one year with ILR, demonstrate “good character”, fulfil the English language proficiency requirement, and successfully pass the Life in the UK test.

    How long does it take to get a decision on my British citizenship application after obtaining ILR?

    The processing time for a British citizenship application can vary, but it usually takes several months. It’s important to be patient and plan accordingly.

    What happens if my British citizenship application after obtaining ILR is denied?

    If your British citizenship application is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision or reapply. It’s important to understand the reasons for the denial and seek legal advice if needed.

    Can I apply for a British passport after obtaining British citizenship?

    Yes, upon acquiring British citizenship, you are entitled to apply for a British passport, granting you unrestricted travel and residency rights within the UK, free from immigration limitations.

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