One of the most often asked questions we get from EU nationals residing in the UK is, “Can I Apply for British Citizenship with Settled Status?”
The answer is that holders of UK settled status may be able to apply for British citizenship if they can demonstrate that they satisfy the UK naturalization criteria. Check citizenshipbritish for more information.
Regrettably, this is seldom straightforward. The naturalization application requires a large number of supporting papers, which settled status holders must provide in order to prevent problems, delays, or having their application denied.
Is it possible for me to apply for British Citizenship with Settled Status?
If settled status holders satisfy the qualifying requirements for UK naturalization, they may be able to apply for British citizenship.
One of the criteria is that you be able to demonstrate that you have resided in the UK for a period of 12 months after the day you were given full established status.
If you previously had a permanent resident status that was converted to settled status, you may apply this term of permanent residence to the 12 month qualifying period.
To apply for naturalization with established status, you do not require a permanent residency card.
Meeting the ‘lawful residency’ criterion for naturalization
The problem for established status holders seeking to naturalize is that settled status may not constitute evidence of previous “lawful residence” in the UK.
This is because the registration procedure for the settlement program only needed proof of 5 years of continuous residency, rather than evidence of being here legally under the EEA Regulations and as specified by the British Nationality Act 1981. In other words, living in compliance with the EEA Regulations 2016 is not the same as living in accordance with the citizenship requirements.
In contrast, the permanent residency application procedure needed (exhaustive) proof of 5 years of enjoying Treaty rights, i.e. as a job seeker, worker, self-employed, self-sufficient, or student.
That is to say:
EU nationals and their family members may have to wait longer than anticipated to seek citizenship since they must demonstrate a sufficient and qualifying duration of legal residence.
Many settled status holders are likely to be disqualified for citizenship because they do not satisfy the residency criteria, such as students, self-sufficient individuals who do not have complete illness insurance or candidates who are economically inactive.
The Home Office may need further information from the citizenship application to show that they were legally present in the UK prior to being granted settled status.
The Home Office has recognized that this advice is likely to create problems for many people, and that discretion may be used in deciding applications.
What are the criteria for British citizenship?
Applying for British citizenship entails a commitment to respect the UK’s laws, values, and traditions, in exchange for which you will be granted the same rights and advantages as any other British national, including the ability to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration control.
You will also be allowed to apply for a British passport and vote in local and national elections.
Naturalization is the process of obtaining British citizenship after meeting specific qualifying requirements.
If your application for established status under the EU settlement program is approved, you will have to wait another 12 months before applying for naturalization.
This is independent of how long you have resided in the UK beyond the 5-year minimum naturalization residency requirement.
In most instances, this implies that you must wait six years after moving to the UK before applying for British citizenship.
This contrasts with the regulations that apply to EU nationals who have sought for permanent residence in the UK, who may be eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they have met the five-year residency requirement, such as spouses of British citizens and UK settled people.
What is the procedure for obtaining British citizenship with established status?
If you satisfy the qualifying requirements, including the need for continuous residency, you may apply to become a British citizen via naturalization using an online form. You may also apply by mail using Form AN, “Become a British Citizen by Naturalisation.” The application fee is £1,330.
As part of the application, you will be asked a series of questions about the qualifying requirements, including how you plan to meet the criterion of having an adequate understanding of the English language and life in the UK. The capacity to speak in English and have an understanding of life in the UK is an essential component of the commitment to respect the UK’s laws, values, and traditions.
After the ceremony, you will be given your certificate of naturalization under British citizenship. Please keep in mind that if you do not return your biometric residence permit to the Home Office within five working days after receiving your certificate of British citizenship, you may be penalized.