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After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
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15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
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09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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21 November, 23
Great Interaction
Great interaction. I had a simple question which would have cost a fortune going to see a local solicitor. It was all very professional but still friendly. The solicitor I spoke to was the chief executive of her law firm (I looked her up on LinkedIn). You are dealing with very good lawyers who earn additional money through Lawhive. I would definitely use this service again. Highly recommend.
Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
Tahir Idris,
04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
Julie Taylor,
01 June, 23
Fast and professional
I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
Jason Hunter,
23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
Jamie Crichton,
09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
Rated 4.8 / 5. Showing our 4 & 5 star reviews.

About

A British Citizenship Application is a legal process in which an individual applies for British Citizenship. This process is overseen by the Home Office and is a legal requirement for all non-British citizens who wish to live in the UK. Solicitors can ensure that the application is completed correctly and that the applicant meets the requirements for citizenship.Next steps

How much does a British Citizenship Application cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a British Citizenship Application is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £700-£850 but in some cases it could cost as much as £1,000.

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British Citizenship & Naturalisation Solicitors

Getting British citizenship means you can live and work in the UK forever, free from any immigration limitations. You can also apply for a UK passport.

British citizenship, sometimes called naturalisation, also comes with other benefits like protection overseas and voting rights. 

If you’re not a UK citizen but want to become one, you can apply through the process of naturalisation.

applying-for-british-citizenship

Applying for British citizenship doesn't automatically give you the right to live in the UK, you have to have existing permission to stay in the UK until your citizenship application is processed. This permission could be in the form of indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled/pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you’re thinking about applying for British citizenship, our network of immigration lawyers is on hand to help with British citizenship matters for affordable fixed fees. 

Our British Citizenship solicitors can help you: 

  • Apply for British citizenship

  • Understand your options if your citizenship application is refused

  • Prepare for the Life in the UK test

  • Provide advice if you’ve spent a lot of time outside the UK

  • Understand your options about dual nationality. 

Contact our legal assessment team today for a free case evaluation and personalised quote. 

How to apply for British citizenship

You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation by making an application yourself or using an agent or representative. 

There are several ways to apply for British citizenship. Which route is appropriate for you depends on how you qualify for citizenship. 

Check you meet the requirements

To apply for British citizenship you must: 

  1. Have lived in the UK lawfully for the required period without excess absences OR have indefinite leave in the UK.

  2. Have been in the UK on the first day of the qualifying period, which will either be 5 or 3 years before the date on which you apply.

  3. Be free from immigration time restrictions on the date you apply and have been for at least 12 months (unless you are the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen) OR you have indefinite leave in the UK.

  4. Intend to make the UK your future home (unless you are a spouse or civil partner of a British citizen).

  5. Have passed the Life in the UK test.

  6. Show that you have the right level of English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic.

  7. Be of good character. 

You also need to be mentally capable of understanding what it means to become a British Citizen. If you’re applying for someone who isn’t mentally capable, you will have to give details about their medical condition and your role as their caregiver. 

Get the details of 2 referees for your application 

You need to provide details of two referees for your application. 

One of your referees can be of any nationality but they must be a professional (like a minister, civil servant, or accountant). The other must have a British passport and can be a professional or anyone over 25 years old.

You should have known both your referees for at least 3 years.

Your referees can’t be: 

  • Related to you

  • Related to each other 

  • Your solicitor 

  • Employed by the Home Office. 

Referees with recent imprisonable convictions in the last 10 years generally won’t be accepted either.

Submit your application

You can apply online for British citizenship by naturalisation unless you live in the Channel Islands, on the Isle of Man, or in a British Overseas Territory (in which case you’d use Form AN). 

You can include family members in your application and apply on behalf of children under 18 if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

When you submit your application online, you will be asked to pay the application fee using a credit or debit card. If you apply by the paper application form, you should use the payment slip provided to pay the fee.

Provide your biometric information

As part of your application, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric details (fingerprints and a photograph) to confirm your identity. Details of where and how you do this will be sent to you after you apply. Usually, it involves visiting a visa application centre.

You must provide your biometric information within 45 days of applying. If you don’t, your application could be void. 

Children under 5 only need to provide a photo of their face, while those 5 and older may also need to provide their fingerprint data. Any children under 16 must attend their biometric appointment with a parent or guardian. 

If you’ve provided biometrics for previous immigration applications, they may be reused. However, this isn’t always the case and you should follow the instructions you are given on how and when you should provide your biometric information.

Wait for a decision 

British citizenship applications usually take about 6 months to be decided.

In some cases, the Home Office may ask you for more details about your application, which could cause it to take longer. 

During this period, you must have permission to remain in the UK. 

Attend your citizenship ceremony

If your application for British citizenship is accepted, you’ll be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. At this ceremony, you’ll make an oath of allegiance and pledge to uphold UK rights, freedom, and laws. After that, you’ll receive your naturalisation certificate. 

Do you automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK? 

Being born in the UK doesn’t mean you’re automatically a British citizen.Citizenship depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances. 

However, you’re usually automatically a British citizen if you were: 

  • Born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983 AND

  • Born when one of your parents was a British citizen or ‘settled’ in the UK.

Children under 18 might already be British citizens if they were born in the UK with one British parent.

If you were born in the UK but didn’t automatically become a British citizen, you may be able to apply for citizenship. 

If you’re unsure about your citizenship status, you can use the Gov.uk website to check if you’re a British citizen

Do you automatically get British citizenship if you are married to someone who is a British citizen? 

Being married to or in a civil partnership with a UK national doesn’t automatically entitle you to British citizenship. Instead, you have to apply for British citizenship by ‘naturalisation.’ 

If you are married to, or in a civil partnership with, someone who is a British citizen, you are 18 or over, and have lived in the UK for at least 3 years before the date of your application, you can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation as soon as you have either: 

  • Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK

  • Settled status (or indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme) 

  • Permission to move to the UK permanently from abroad. 

Additionally, you must: 

  • Be able to show your knowledge of English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic. 

  • Pass the life in the UK test. 

  • Be of good character (i.e. not have broken any UK immigration laws). 

The cost of applying for British Citizenship as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen is £1,580, and processing usually takes around 6 months. 

It is important to know that widows and widowers can’t use this route to apply for British citizenship. If this applies to you, get in touch with our legal assessment team today to explore your options around naturalisation routes.

Do you automatically have British citizenship if you have indefinite leave to remain or ‘settled status’? 

Neither Indefinite Leave to Remain nor ‘Settled Status’ automatically grants you British citizenship. 

Usually, after getting Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settled status, you must wait for one year (12 months) before applying for British citizenship. However, if you're married, you can apply as soon as you get either status.

Additionally, must be over 18 years old, demonstrate English language proficiency, pass the Life in the UK test, and intend to continue living in the UK.

The application fee for this is £1,580. 

Can you apply for British citizenship if you entered the UK illegally? 

If you entered the UK illegally on or after March 7th, 2023, you won’t be eligible for British citizenship if you didn’t come directly from a country where your life was threatened because of your race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. 

This applies even if you left the UK after arriving illegally and later re-entered awfully, or you entered the UK via Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, or an overseas territory in the same way. 

If you’re not eligible under the Illegal Migration Act 2023 but try to apply for British citizenship, it’s likely your application will be refused and the fee you pay won’t be refunded except in cases where the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention would be breached if your application weren’t considered. 

Other ways you may be eligible to apply for British citizenship

You might be able to apply for British citizenship if: 

  • One of your parents is British 

  • You hold another type of British nationality

  • Your parent has British overseas territory citizenship

  • You’re stateless

  • You previously renounced your citizenship

  • Certain special circumstances apply to you 

  • You’re a descendant of Chagossians. 

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen, you may be able to apply for British citizenship under the Windrush scheme

Do I have to use an agent or representative to apply for British citizenship?

You can get help from an agent or representative if you need it, but it's not required for applying for British citizenship.

Solicitors or barristers registered with specific legal organisations, like the General Council of the Bar or the Law Society of England and Wales, can assist you.

At Lawhive, all our lawyers are registered with the SRA, and we'll assign the best legal professional from our network to handle your case. Contact us for more details.

Before working with any other agents or representatives, make sure they are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.

Do I need to have been in the UK for a specific period before applying for British Citizenship?

If you are not married to, or the civil partner of, a British citizen, you must have been in the UK for exactly 5 years before sending your application. 

If you are married to, or the civil partner of, a British citizen, you must have been in the UK for exactly 3 years before your application is received. 

If you can’t meet this requirement, your application will likely be refused. If you believe exceptional circumstances stopped you from being in the UK on the first day of the qualifying period, you should provide details in your application. An immigration solicitor can help you with this. 

How are absences from the UK considered in a British citizenship application?

When you apply for citizenship, your absences from the UK are carefully reviewed based on the type of application you are making. 

If you’re applying under the 5-year route, you shouldn’t have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days. 

For the 3-year route (when you’re married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen), you shouldn’t have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days.

There is some discretion for absences exceeding these limits under certain circumstances. For example postings abroad in Crown or designated service, unavoidable work-related travel, or exceptional reasons. 

Absences from the UK in the last 12 months 

Regardless of your overall absences from the UK, you shouldn’t have been absent for more than 90 days in the final 12 months of your qualifying period. You may have to provide documents proving your presence in the UK to support your application. 

What is the Windrush Scheme? 

The Windrush Scheme provides a way for individuals who are settled in the UK but lack the necessary documentation to prove it to apply for British citizenship. You may be eligible to apply for British citizenship under the Windrush Scheme with no application fee if you fall into one of the following categories: 

  1. You arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973.

  2. Your parents arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973. 

  3. You arrived in the UK from any country before 31st December 1988 and have since settled here. 

If you are a part of the ‘Windrush Generation’ our immigration solicitors can help you secure your future in the UK. Contact us today for more information.

What happens if I apply for British citizenship and I already hold nationality from another country?

If you become a British citizen and have citizenship in another country, you are a dual national.

However, some countries don’t allow dual nationality, so it’s important to understand the potential consequences of how applying for naturalisation might change your status in other countries.

If you’re unsure, our team of British citizenship lawyers can check if your country allows dual nationality. They can also help you contact your embassy or consulate to ask questions about how getting British citizenship could affect your current citizenship. 

What can I do if my British citizenship application is refused? 

If your British citizenship application is denied, there are steps you can take to challenge the decision including: 

  • Asking the Home Office to reconsider their decision; 

  • Challenging the lawfulness of the decision by seeking a judicial review.

At Lawhive, our network of experienced immigration lawyers has years of experience in asking the Home Office to reconsider British citizenship refusals and seeking Judicial Reviews on behalf of clients. 

If you find yourself in this situation and decide you would like to look at alternative routes to securing British citizenship or challenge a decision, contact our legal assessment team today

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What counts as lawful residence in the UK? 

You should have been in the UK lawfully for 5 years or 3 years before making your application for British citizenship.

Under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, you have lawful residence in the UK if: 

  • You hold valid indefinite leave in the UK

  • You have settled status under the EU Settlement scheme

  • You have right of abode in the UK 

  • You are an Irish national (not subject to a deportation order, exclusion decision, exclusion order, or travel ban).

How do I know if I am free from immigration time restrictions? 

Immigration time restrictions limit how long someone can legally stay in the UK. 

All applicants for naturalisation must show they are free from these time restrictions. 

People who are free from immigration time restrictions usually have indefinite leave to remain, settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or the right of abode in the UK. Irish citizens are considered settled from their date of arrival in the UK. 

When applying for British citizenship, you can provide one of the following to show you are free from immigration time restrictions: 

  • Your 16-digital unique application number if you have settled status

  • Your biometric residence permit or other documents confirming your right to remain permanently in the UK

  • A letter from the Home Office granting permission to remain indefinitely in the UK 

  • Evidence of being freely landed (if applicable)

  • A valid certificate of entitlement to the right of abode

  • Your Irish passport (if you are an Irish national) 

  • Evidence of a Withdrawal Agreement right to reside in the UK permanently. 

If you have time restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK, you must apply for permission to stay permanently in the UK and then wait an additional 12 months if applying for British citizenship under the 5-year route. 

What are the requirements regarding future plans when applying for citizenship? 

If you’re applying for British citizenship under the 5-year route, you must confirm your intention to continue living in the UK if your naturalisation application is successful. 

If you meet the absence requirements, this can be used as proof that you intend for the UK to be your main residence. But, if you have a partner who lives abroad or have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months then you might have to provide more information to support your application. 

If you indicate in your application that you intend to go abroad for more than 6 months, your application will likely be unsuccessful, unless certain exceptions apply. 

Do I need to demonstrate knowledge of language and life in the UK when applying for British citizenship? 

Unless you’re 65 years or older or have a long-term physical or mental condition preventing you from doing so, you must be able to show your knowledge of the English language and life in the UK (KoLL). This is a requirement even if you’ve received indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

If you apply without meeting these requirements and you’re not exempt, your application may be rejected, and you could lose your application fee. 

What is the Life in the UK test? 

The Life in the UK test assesses your understanding of British customs, traditions, and everyday day life. There’s no limit to the number of times you can take the test, but you do have to pay a fee for each attempt. 

When you apply for British citizenship, you’ll need to show you have passed the Life in the UK test by providing the reference number on your pass certificate.

If you took the test on or after 17th December 2019, this reference number will be in the email you received with your results. If you took the test before then, your reference number will be at the top of your results letter. 

Do I meet the Knowledge of Language requirement for British citizenship? 

You can satisfy the knowledge of language requirement for British citizenship with: 

  • A B1 CEFR or higher qualification in English from the Secure English Language Test

  • A UK academic qualification equivalent to a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD, taught in English. 

  • An Academic Qualification Level Statement from Ecctis confirming your degree from a majority English-speaking country is equivalent to a UK qualification.

  • A postgraduate diploma from a UK university. 

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country (such as the USA or Australia) you are automatically seen to meet the English language requirement. 

Individuals 65 and over, or those with a long-term physical or mental condition that affects their ability to meet the requirement may be exempt, however, exemption requests require completion of the waiver request form along with supporting evidence from a medical professional. 

What does 'good character' mean? 

Individuals seeking British citizenship must show a commitment to observing UK laws and respecting the rights and freedoms of its citizens. 

Being of good character means following the law, being honest, and behaving responsibly. It also involves having integrity and making positive contributions to society. 

Several factors are considered in assessing good character, including 

  • Past convictions, including fines, cautions, or community sentences. 

  • If an applicant has been bankrupt, not paid taxes, committed fraud, or owes large unpaid debts. 

  • If an applicant has ever lied or used fake documents. 

  • Links to serious crimes including terrorism, war crimes, or serious international crimes. 

  • Ongoing legal issues or criminal investigations.

Applicants must be truthful when providing this kind of information in their application. Failing to do so could result in being denied citizenship or legal action. 

How long do British citizenship applications take? 

Processing times for British citizenship applications are typically around 6 months from the application being received by the Home Office. 

If any information is missing from your application, you will be contacted. However, it’s a good idea to include everything required upfront to allow for your application to be processed efficiently. 

Are you allowed to travel after applying for British citizenship? 

Once you’ve submitted your naturalisation application, you can travel while waiting for a decision. Just make sure you have your (valid) passport and evidence of your indefinite leave to remain or other valid status.

There’s no need to tell the Home Office of your plans to travel, however, you should keep in mind that a prolonged absence from the UK might raise questions about your future intentions, as discussed earlier in this guide. 

You will have to provide your biometric information within 45 days of submitting your application, which will likely involve visiting a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service Centre in person.

Additionally, if your application is approved, you’ll have 90 days to arrange attendance at a citizenship ceremony. It’s important to consider these timeframes if you're making travel plans.

Why choose Lawhive to help with your British citizenship application?

At Lawhive, our immigration lawyers understand the ins and outs of British citizenship applications, not to mention how important it is for you to maximise your chances of success.

Whether you need help with your application and visa types or have specific questions about how much time you may have spent outside the UK, we can help.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and quote for the services of our legal experts.

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