Naturalization is an important event of one`s life that determines certain rights for the person who is being naturalized. A successful application for naturalization gives the privilege of exercising full rights as being exercised by every British Citizen.
There are two categories of naturalization applications that can be made i.e. naturalization on the basis of marriage with a UK citizen and naturalization on the basis of five years legal residence. The former one can be applied for after completing three years while in the latter category one has to complete five years of legal residence. There is one common requirement to both of these categories that the last 12 months of stay must have been spent free of immigration control i.e. Indefinite leave to remain or Permanent residence.
We shall discuss all the requirements of naturalization separately in some detail as follows:
There are various immigration categories that lead to immigration subject to fulfilment of certain requirements. On staying in the UK for 12 months after getting ILR, he can apply for naturalization. But the main requirement has to be fulfilled that he must have resided 6 years in the UK including staying on Indefinite Leave to remain for 12 months.
A non-EEA national is normally given a leave to enter / remain to join his British Citizen spouse in the UK for two years. Before the expiry of that two years leave, the person has to apply for indefinite leave to remain and on staying in the UK for another year, the foreign national becomes eligible to become a British National. But it is not that easy as it looks like!
There are a number of requirements that one has to fulfil and become entitled to the privilege of calling himself a British Citizen.
- Sound Mind
- Intention to live in the UK
- Sufficient Knowledge of English Language
- Sufficient knowledge of life in the UK
- Character of the person
- Residence requirements
We shall now discuss each of the above requirements separately:
The person who wishes to naturalize must be 18 years or above. Any person who are under 18 years of age cannot apply for naturalization instead they need to register themselves and apply on a different form. This does not really is for the applicants applying on the basis of marriage with the British Citizen as a person is only allowed to marry when she is 18 years of age or above (in England). And by the time the applicant becomes eligible to make this application he must have been above 18 years of age.
2. Sound mind
The person who wishes to naturalize must be of sound mind having the understanding of what he is doing and how it would change his rights and obligations. It is quite understandable that a person of unsound mind is not in a position to make any decision and hence cannot make or submit any application.
3. Intention to live in the UK
The intentions to live in the UK on a permanent basis is quite important as the British Citizenship is only given to that person who intends to live in the UK. But at the same, after getting naturalized, long time absences are normally ignored provided the link with the UK is not permanently broken.
4. Sufficient knowledge of english language
This requirement has been introduced to help the eligible persons integrate in the society who can benefit the UK in return. It was found that some British Nationals are not well conversant in English language that hinders them to mix with other English-speaking people, to do business, to seek employment, to enjoy all the benefits that the UK offers to its citizens. Although these people has spent a large part of their lives in the UK but the language barrier stops them in doing any thing at all and ultimately become a burden on the society.
There are exemptions for those who are under 18 and for those who are over 65 years of age. Those persons suffering from some physical or mental disability are also exempted from this requirement. But in order to claim this exemption one has to provide a documentary evidence to confirm the eligibility and that can be an original Birth certificate or a disability certificate explaining the disability in detail.
Previously the applicants need to take a language test or provide some GCSE / A level / graduation acquired from an English speaking country or from a non-English speaking country along with a certificate from the education provider, or ask a solicitor or notary public to issue a certificate of proficiency of English language. Now the test of sufficient knowledge of English language is taken together with the knowledge of life in the UK.
5. Sufficient knowledge of life in the UK
Recently a new test of life in the UK has been introduced in addition to the English language requirement. This has been done having the same intentions in mind as existed at the time of introducing the requirement of English language. The Home office has provided common tests for the fulfilment of both of these requirements i.e. successfully completing ESOL (English for Speakers of other languages) course having Citizenship contents or by taking a knowledge of life in the UK test at one of the designated test centres.
6. Character of the person
The character of a person has become quite important issue in the recent months and more debate is going on regarding the character of the person. The applicants are required to disclose all the facts that are more or less related to their character. The home office conducts checks to every application regarding the issue of character and can refuse this application for this reason only.
7. Residence requirements
This is quite an important requirement for those eligible persons who intend to apply for naturalization. For those who wish to apply on the basis of five years of legal residence, they are required to not to stay for more than 450 days including 90 days in the last year, out of the UK. While for those who wish to apply on the basis of marriage with a UK citizen they are required to not to stay for more than 270 days including 90 days out of the UK. There are some exceptions that are generously exercised made by the discretion of the secretary of state to the residence requirements but still the discretionary powers have also got some limits and if the application goes beyond the limits it is likely to be refused.
Each application must be accompanied by two references from the British citizens who know the applicant for the last three years. There are some restrictions on a person who intends to become a referee:
- He must be a British Citizen
- He must be over 25 years of age
- He must be of sound mind
- He must not be related to the applicant
- He must not be related to the other referee
- He cannot be the applicant`s solicitor or representative.
One has to be very careful in making this application as there are lots of details and documents that are required in order to a make an application successfully. So this is not a do-it-yourself thing and one should leave this matter to a professional who takes care of even the minor details while keeping an eye on the fast changing rules and regulations.