Obtaining British citizenship is an arduous and expensive affair. Regulatory authorities have laid down strict norms essential for prospective citizens to comply with if they are to become citizens of Britain.
The number of people who want to live, work as well as enjoy voting rights in the UK is huge. As a result, the demand for citizenship is high. Hence even a minor mistake while filling out the application form or submitting the requisite documents can cost a loss of opportunity to obtain a British passport.
Hence, it is crucial that you research well and be prepared to fill out the forms precisely for obtaining a British passport. And when the authorities at the Home Office apply British citizenship related rules and regulations and scrutinise your application they are fully satisfied.
Who Is A Resident, And What Does It Take To Become A Citizen?
A permanent resident or one who has settled status in the United Kingdom can stay for any period without having to extend his visa from time to time. A permanent resident is also said to have an ILR status meaning an indefinite leave to remain in the country.
The criteria for obtaining an ILR status depends on the number of years you spent in England and the type of visa you have. Also, whether you are married to a UK citizen or whether you are a citizen of the Commonwealth nations has an impact on the permanent resident or ILR status.
There are many similarities in terms of the privileges that a British resident and a citizen enjoy.
A person with an ILR status, and a citizen, both can live, work and study in Britain, for an indefinite period of time. But only a citizen can vote in the elections, compete for public office or use a British passport.
Usually, when a person has permanent resident status, the next step is to apply for a British passport. This blog post discusses the key steps that need to be followed when one wishes to make the transition from permanent residentship to full-fledged citizenship.
You must stay in England for twelve months after getting permanent resident status.
You must be willing to forfeit your original (home) country’s passport if your home country does not allow dual citizenship. If you are not sure about the forfeiture of citizenship, you must consult the local embassy of your native country and seek more details.
Submit all the documents in the correct format as required by the Home Office. You must submit proof of identity. This could be any document like a driving licence or any travel document issued by the Home Office in the last six months earlier than the application date.
If you do not have any of the documents mentioned earlier in this blog post, you can also send in a credit card statement issued within the past six months. If you need to prove the status of your relationship, you should submit your marriage certificate or certificate of partnership as well.
Further, you will also be required to submit proof that you have a B1 level of proficiency when it comes to reading, writing, and listening to conversations in English. You must also submit all the details regarding the time periods when you were absent from England. Ideally, you must not have spent more than ninety days of the twelve-month post-receiving ILR status in any other country.
You must also prepare for the Life in the UK Test. The test is not an easy one, and you must practise well before you attempt the test. You have to book a slot for the test three days in advance and pay fifty pounds to take the test.
There are twenty four multiple choice questions, and in order to pass the test, you must get at least seventy-five per cent correct answers; that is, you pass if you get eighteen or more out of twenty-four answers correct. The Home Office comes out with a handbook that you can use to prepare for the test.
You must also fulfil the criteria for determining whether you have good character. Some conditions require that a prospective citizen must have a sound financial record. So you must regularly pay your share of taxes to the government, and you must not have any major unpaid debt in your name. You must not be involved in international crime like terrorism, genocide, etc. And finally, you must not have broken any law in England.
Once you have all the requisite documents and certifications, you may apply online, or send the documents to the Home Office via post. You must submit your biometric information, like your fingerprint, to the authorities to complete all the formalities required for the application process.
You can make an application yourself, or you can hire an agent on your behalf. An experienced agent knows what it takes to get approval from the home office. So in case you are hiring an agent, the chances of rejection for frivolous mistakes go down to a great extent. But if you are filling all the forms yourself, make sure you fulfil the criteria for ‘good character’ as defined by the Home Office.
Moreover, there should be no delay in sending a reply to the Home Office in case they have a query. And finally, you should not make any mistakes that may reflect your insufficient knowledge of English.
The transition from being a permanent resident to becoming a full-fledged British Citizen is not easy. The rejection rates are high, and even minor, innocuous mistakes like a late reply to the Home Office can lead to rejection. So if you are not very confident with the application process, you can always take the help of an agent. And if you wish to do things all by yourself, be thorough in your research and send in all the papers in the correct format to get a positive outcome.