DISCLAIMER: I am not an immigration guru, please do not quote me! The information here is from my own research and experience but I have compiled it to the best of my abilities to help where I can :) Everything I have written here is applicable to laws/rules that were in place at the time of my application (i.e. August 2012). I recommend you read up on the subject yourself before going ahead with any applications, to make sure you cover all your bases and have everything you need – it is likely that requirements have changed since I originally wrote this post.
I recently applied for naturalisation as a British citizen i.e. my British citizenship, or as us South Africans commonly (and wrongly!) call it, “applying for my British Passport”… My application was successful and I am proud to say that after much admin, nearly 7 years in the UK, and at great expense – I am now technically British and it was worth the agony! (I am also still South African citizen – read my post on Dual Citizenship here)
Out of all the applications I have done so far, this has been the easiest and least taxing by far. I’d recommend to start looking at the forms and gathering supporting documents around a month or two prior to the date marking a full year of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR – more info on that here), you cannot send this application off before then. (eg. if your ILR was granted 01 January 2012, you can only submit the application 02 January 2013)
Here is the low down on how to become a proper Brit, innit…
THE FORM: You will need to fill in and submit Form AN which you can find here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/applicationtypes/naturalisation/
BEFORE YOU FILL IT IN:
1. Read the Form AN Guide booklet and this webpage on how to complete your form here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/applicationtypes/naturalisation/completingtheform/
2. Find references willing to vouch for you: Your application must include details of two referees. The referees should have known you personally for at least three years. One referee should be a person of any nationality who is of professional standing such as a minister of religion, civil servant or a member of a professional association such as an accountant or a solicitor. See the list of acceptable professional persons here. The other referee must be a holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or aged 25 years or over. Neither must be related to you or each other, and cannot be your solicitor or an employee of the Home Office. These people may be contacted to confirm their reference but its not very likely.
WAYS OF APPLYING:
All applications are submitted and returned by post. There is no ‘fast track’ or ‘in person’ option.
1. By yourself – read more here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/checkingservice/ (note info about supplying pre-paid envelope)
2. Through A Nationality Checking Service (NCS) – they will ensure that your form is correctly completed, and they will copy your documents and return them to you. They will ensure that your application is validly submitted and that the unwaivable requirements for citizenship are met. Read more on this here here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/applying/checkingservice/ (I’d recommend this if you don’t want to go the agency route – also, you don’t have to submit your passport etc which is useful if you want to travel – you just need to find out where your nearest local authority is who does it.)
3. Through a specialist visa/passport agency – this will add extra cost in the form of service fees to your overall outlay but may offer peace of mind if you are nervous to complete the application on your own
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? They usually say up to 3 months but I see now on the website they are saying “The standard is that we will decide 95% of applications within six months” – guess you just have to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best!
- Completed application form AN including page filled in and signed by 2 referees conforming to listed requirements (see page attached of acceptable occupations)
- Passport photos (check guide book but you need at least one)
- All previous passports and UK visas/ permits
- Original marriage certificates (if applicable)
- Final Order of Divorce (if applicable)
- Original birth certificates of children (if applicable)
- Children’s school reports (if applicable)
- P60s and P45s covering the last 5 years
- Letter from your employer/accountant confirming your job title, annual salary, work status i.e. full-time/part-time/temporary/permanent
- Payslips for the most recent 3 months
- Original copies of your most recent 3 months bank statements
- Original letter received from Home Office confirming ILR
- Life in the UK test pass notification letter
- Certified copy of Dual Citizenship Letter/Certificate (if applicable)
- Proof of accommodation by means of tenancy agreement or mortgage statement
- Documents as proof of applicant living at the address (provide at least 6 items from at least 3 separate sources):
– Utility bills;
– Council Tax bills;
– NHS documents/medical card;
– Mobile phone bills;
– Credit card statements;
– TV Licence;
– Any other official correspondence that has been printed on official letterhead.
- Payment form (see note on FEE below)
- Self-addressed pre-paid special delivery envelope so that your documents can be returned safely (otherwise they send it back via Royal Mail 2nd class postage)
FEE: The cost of this application is currently £851.00 – see details on PDF downloadable from here – note that the payment form you will require is at the back of this document.
WHERE TO SEND YOUR APPLICATION: if you are currently based in the UK, send your form to:
UK Border Agency
New Hall Place
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Once your application has been approved and your documents returned, your will recieve a letter from the Home Office inviting you to make an appointment with your local authority to attend a Citizenship Ceremony. During the ceremony, you will pledge allegiance to the Queen and make a vow to be an upstanding British citizen. After you have sworn your oath and sung the national anthem, you will be presented with a certificate. You are only technically a citizen once you have attended this ceremony. After you have received your certificate, you may apply for an actual passport booklet (blog post to follow shortly on that one!)