Marriage to a British citizen isn’t an automatic guarantee that you’ll be given British Citizenship. This is obtained through the application process of naturalisation which requires the non-UK spouse to meet certain eligibility criteria under nationality rules. From there you must make a citizenship application to the Home Office.
Eligibility for British Citizenship by marriage
To be eligible for British Citizenship through naturalisation, you must satisfy this criteria:
- Be aged 18 or over.
- Be married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British Citizen.
- Have lived in the UK for a minimum of three years before applying and meeting residence requirements.
- Have passed the life in the UK test.
- Be of good character.
- Be able to prove your knowledge of English language, Welsh or Gaelic.
Once you’ve gained Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK as a spouse of a British citizen, a permanent residence card or settled status under the EU settlement scheme, you can apply to naturalise.
Applying to settle in the UK requires meeting the Koll requirement by passing the “Life in the UK” test. This is completed at an approved test centre. If you’re from an English speaking country such as the USA or Australia, you will satisfy the language element of the exam, but still have to pass the Life in the UK test.
It’s possible for you to be completely exempt from the language and life requirement if you are aged 65 or over, or if you have a long-term mental or physical condition that prevents you from meeting this requirement.
To be eligible for naturalisation, the following residency requirements must be met. You must not have:
- Spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the 3 years preceding your application.
- Spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.
- Broken any UK immigration laws (you cannot be living illegally in the UK).
Any excessive absences are a usual reason for citizenship refusals. If you are concerned that you’ve breached your threshold or near it, you should take advice to understand any implications on eligibility.
Even as a spouse of a UK citizen, there is a cost for visa applications. The cost is £1,330. There is also a fee of £19.20 to have your biometric information taken – fingerprints and photographs. The UK government will let you know how this can be done.
Children under 18
If as a couple you have a child, they’re automatically a UK citizen if they were born in the UK. They’re also eligible if they were born and:
- Their other parent is a British National
- You had indefinite leave to remain in the UK or permanent residence status
If your partner has passed away
If you partner has died, you cannot apply for a UK visa. There are other ways to apply for British citizenship that you could be eligible for, such as indefinite leave to remain in the UK or permanent residence status.