How Long Does It Take To Get UK Citizenship?
Becoming a citizen of the United Kingdom is a significant milestone for individuals who have made the UK their home. It grants a sense of belonging, security, and opens up numerous opportunities. However, the process of obtaining UK citizenship can be complex and time-consuming. In this article, we will explore the various pathways to UK citizenship and how long each route typically takes.
Naturalization is the most common route to UK citizenship for individuals who are not born in the UK or have British parents. To become eligible for naturalization, applicants must have lived in the UK for at least five years continuously and meet other requirements such as knowledge of English and life in the UK. Once the application is submitted, the processing time is usually around six months.
2. Citizenship by Descent:
Individuals may be eligible for UK citizenship by descent if they have a British parent. This route is often quicker than naturalization as it requires fewer residency requirements. The processing time for citizenship by descent applications can range from three to six months.
3. Ancestry Visa:
The Ancestry Visa is another pathway to UK citizenship, available to individuals with a grandparent born in the UK. Once an individual has resided in the UK for five years on an Ancestry Visa, they can apply for naturalization. The overall process can take around six to seven years, including the initial visa period.
4. Spouse or Civil Partner of a British Citizen:
Non-British nationals who are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen can apply for UK citizenship through this route. The eligibility criteria include a minimum residency period of three years and a strong proof of the relationship. The processing time for this category is usually around six months.
5. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):
Obtaining ILR is a crucial step towards UK citizenship for those who are not eligible for naturalization immediately. ILR grants an individual the right to live and work in the UK without any time restrictions. The standard processing time for an ILR application is six months, but expedited options are available for an additional fee.
6. British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC):
Individuals who are British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTC) may be eligible for UK citizenship. The processing time for this category can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances and the specific requirements of their territory.
7. EU Settlement Scheme:
Before Brexit, citizens of European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland had the right to live and work in the UK without any restrictions. However, with the introduction of the EU Settlement Scheme, EU citizens and their family members must apply to secure their residency rights. The processing time for this scheme is relatively quick, with most decisions being made within a few weeks.
Q1. Can I apply for UK citizenship if I have lived in the UK for less than five years?
A1. No, naturalization requires a minimum residency period of five years.
Q2. Can I apply for UK citizenship if I have a criminal record?
A2. It depends on the nature and severity of the offense. Serious criminal convictions can affect your eligibility for UK citizenship.
Q3. Can I speed up the citizenship application process?
A3. Expedited options are available for some categories, but they require an additional fee.
Q4. Will I need to pass a language test to become a UK citizen?
A4. Yes, applicants are required to demonstrate their knowledge of English and life in the UK.
Q5. Can I apply for UK citizenship if I am living in the country illegally?
A5. No, you must have legal status in the UK to be eligible for citizenship.
Q6. Can I hold dual citizenship as a UK citizen?
A6. Yes, the UK allows dual citizenship, so you can keep your original nationality.
Q7. Can my children become UK citizens automatically?
A7. Children born in the UK to parents who are settled or hold British citizenship are automatically considered British citizens.
In conclusion, the process of obtaining UK citizenship varies depending on the individual circumstances and the route chosen. On average, it takes around six months for naturalization applications, whereas other routes may take several years. It is essential to carefully consider your eligibility and requirements before embarking on this journey.