Residency Requirements for British Citizenship by Naturalisation

Naturalisation and the good character requirement

You can become British citizen in different ways. The most common way to become a British citizen is known as “naturalisation”.

The decision as to whether someone should be given naturalisation is made at the discretion of the Home Secretary. If the Home Secretary finds the applicant fit for purpose, they may then grant British citizenship to that person.

There are official requirements set down by the Home Office for naturalisation but they may waive these or may refuse citizenship to a person despite them meeting all of the necessary requirement. However, generally applications for naturalisation are granted if the requirements are met.

Who can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation?

Under the British Nationality Act, you can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if you meet the following conditions:

  1. You are 18 or above.
  2. You have a “good character”. This means you should not have a serious or recent criminal record.
  3. You will continue to live in the UK.
  4. You meet the residency requirement
  5. You meet the Life in the UK and English language requirements.
  6. You were in the UK for the 5 years prior to the Home Office receiving your application.

The residency requirement for British citizenship

As noted above, there is a “residency requirement” when applying for British citizenship by naturalisation. When an individual looks to qualify for naturalisation as a British citizen, they need to demonstrate close links with – and a commitment to – the UK. Doing so means that they meet the residency requirement.

Residency requirements under section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 state that the applicant must meet the following requirements. This is for those who are not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen:

  1. They must be in the UK at the beginning of the period of 5 years, ending on the date of their application.
  2. They must not have been absent from the UK for more than either 450 days in that 5 year period or 90 days in the period of 12 months ending with the date of application.
  3. They were not subject to any restriction on the period of stay in the UK under immigration laws on the date of application.
  4. They were not in the UK in breach of the immigration laws at any time in the period of 5 years ending with the date of application.

For those who are married to – or in a civil partnership with – a British citizen, the requirements are as follows:

  1. They were in the UK at the start of the period of 3 years ending with the date of application.
  2. They were not absent from the UK for more than either 270 days in that 3 year period or 90 days in the period of 12 months ending with the date of application.
  3. On the date of application, the applicant was not subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on their period of stay in the UK.
  4. They were not in breach of immigration laws during the entirety of the 3 year period ending with the date of application.

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