Virginia, US

Applications to obtain British citizenship (known as ‘Naturalisation’) are attracting lots of attention in the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. Find out below if you might be eligible.

Can I apply for a British passport?

EU nationals who have held permanent residence for 12 months and obtained their permanent residence card may apply for British citizenship (as can non-EU nationals who have held indefinite leave to remain for 12 months). If you are married to a British national, you may apply for British citizenship as soon as you obtain your permanent residence card. Since November 2015, it is now mandatory to hold a permanent residence card ahead of naturalising.

Before applying for a British passport, you must first make an application to naturalise in the UK - so do not make a passport application until you have your certificate of naturalisation in hand.

How do I naturalise?

Applications to naturalise are submitted on application Form AN1 accompanied by supporting documentation. There are several criteria to meet, including a good character assessment, passing knowledge of English language and life in the UK requirements, residency requirements to show you have been resident in the UK continuously for the last 5 year period and also declaring that you intend to make the UK your main home.

The residency requirements are assessed via a schedule of absences, and days spent outside the UK cannot be higher than 450 days over the last 5 years or 90 days in the last 12 months. If your absences are above these thresholds, this may not be an automatic deal breaker, you should seek assistance from your Fragomen representative.

Applications are submitted by post and processing times currently average 6 months, however, you can submit certified copies of original travel documents and retain the originals to facilitate travel during the processing period (beware that the UKVI does have the discretion to request these during processing). Unfortunately, there is no priority service available.

Once approved, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony in your local area, where you will make an oath of allegiance (or you can make an affirmation if you prefer not to swear by God) and a pledge. This means you’ll promise to respect the rights, freedoms,, and laws of the UK.

At the end of the ceremony, you’ll be presented with your certificate of British citizenship, which you will need to include in any subsequent application for a British passport. Passport applications are separate and distinct from the naturalisation application – a blog post is coming your way soon to look at how to turn your certificate of naturalisation into a British passport.

I’m already an EU national – can I hold two passports?

A word of warning – not all EU member states permit dual nationality, so check with your local Embassy for any particular restrictions. For example, states including Estonia, Slovakia, and the Netherlands have prohibitions on holding dual nationality.

Should you require any assistance with your application for naturalisation, please contact your Fragomen representative for a consultation.