If you are married to a British citizen or in a civil partnership, you might be wondering whether you are eligible for citizenship on the basis of your marriage or civil partnership. Whilst there is no immediate route to citizenship if you are married to a British citizen, you will be eligible for British citizenship once you have received Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Of course, if you are married to a British citizen, you will be eligible to apply for a Spouse Visa. The Spouse Visa affords some particularly attractive benefits, such as the freedom to work in any profession with no restrictions.
Typically, you can receive Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status/permanent residency after you have lived in the UK for five years.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for British Citizenship by Marriage?
The fundamental requirements for British citizenship by marriage are as follows:
- The person is at least 18-years-old
- The person is married to, or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
- The person has lived in the UK for at least three years before the date of the application
The individual will be able to apply for citizenship as soon as they receive one of the following:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
- A permanent residence document to prove permanent residence status
- ‘Settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Indefinite leave to enter the UK
The distinguishing feature of applying for British citizenship on the basis of being a spouse of a British citizen is that you can apply for citizenship as soon as you have received Indefinite Leave to Remain status. In most circumstances, you need to spend at least one year under ILR status before you can apply for citizenship.
The other eligibility requirements include:
- Proof that you have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the day the Home Office received the application for citizenship
- Proof of your English language ability to a B1 level with a certificate from an approved test centre (unless exempt)
- A pass in the Life in the UK test
- Being of good character
What are the Requirements on Residency for British Citizenship by Marriage?
There are certain conditions around your UK residency which you must meet in order to be eligible or British citizenship by marriage.
The applicant should not have:
- Spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
- Spent more than 270 days outside the UK in the 3 years before the application
- Breached any UK immigration laws
Some applicants will be exempt from the UK residency requirements. For instance, if the applicant’s partner lives abroad, they either for the UK government or an organisation closely linked to the government, they will be exempt.
British Citizenship by Marriage Application Process
As alluded to above, there is no specific application for British citizenship by marriage.
To apply for citizenship on the basis of being a spouse of a British citizen, you will need to complete the British citizenship by naturalisation application (form AN).
If you are applying yourself, you will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information.
It is possible (and encouraged) to apply online for British citizenship by naturalisation. You can also submit an application by post and if you live in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory, you can only apply by post. Bear in mind that postal applications take significantly longer than online applications to process.
Required Documents for British Citizenship by Marriage
The required documents for most British citizenship applications include the following:
- Evidence of your identity, such as a passport, birth certificate or valid travel document
- Proof that you hold a form of permanent residence such as Indefinite Leave to Remain
- Documents showing previous immigration history
- Proof of a B1 level of English (unless exempt)
- Proof of pass in the Life in the UK test
- Evidence of your residential presence in the UK
- Documents detailing any time spent abroad during your time in the UK
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Applicants will typically need to provide other documents, which may differ depending on the person’s circumstances.
You can upload your documentary evidence into the online service with online documents, or have your documents scanned at your UKVCAS appointment.
If you have opted for a postal application, you will need to post the documents along with the paper application to the relevant office.
British Citizenship by Marriage Cost
It costs £1,330 to apply for British citizenship by marriage, and you must also pay £19.20 to have your biometric information taken (fingerprints and a photo), if you don’t already have a biometric residence permit.
When Will I Receive a Decision?
British citizenship applications are typically processed within six months of the date they are received. The Home Office will contact you if they require any more information from you, such as additional documents.
If your circumstances change, it is important that you notify the Home Office. Some of the reasons which require you to contact the Home Office might include moving house, a change of job or being arrested.
If you need to get in contact with the Home Office, you can email them directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Happens if My Application is Accepted?
If your application is accepted, you will receive a certificate of British citizenship. The certificate will confirm your status as a British citizen, affording you the full benefits of British citizenship.
If you hold a biometric residence permit, you will need to send it to the Home Office within 5 working days of receiving your certificate of citizenship. You could be fined up to £1,000 if you do not return your biometric residence permit in time.
How Do I Get a British Passport?
You can apply for a British passport as soon as you become a British citizen. If you want to travel abroad and return to the UK, you will need to hold a British passport. The certificate of citizenship and travel documents will not be accepted as a form of identification if you do travel.