Please note this blog post applies only to those who want to become a citizen of the UK.
Due to its historical status as a major colonial power, UK immigration law is said to be rather strict, convoluted and constantly changing. Therefore, if you’re a foreigner looking to acquire UK citizenship, you better have ample amounts of patience and persistence ready. Here’s a brief rundown on the necessary requirements for becoming a UK citizen. Study them thoroughly, because once you get a full grasp of what it takes to acquire the much coveted citizenship certificate, it will become much easier to determine whether you need an immigration lawyer to see you through the process or not.
Being a British citizen gives you the right to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration controls. This means that if you’re a foreigner, you will have to apply for British citizenship. You can achieve this in two ways: either by marrying a British citizen or by meeting criteria for the so-called ‘naturalisation’.
The British government states the following eligibility criteria for naturalisation:
- you’re 18 or over
- you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record
- you’ve passed tests covering the English language and life in the UK
- you meet the residency requirement and have been exercising Treaty Rights (you’ve been working or studying, for instance)
In addition, you must usually have:
- lived in the UK for at least five years before the date of your application
- been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national
- had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months
- not broken any immigration laws while in the UK
If you’re married to a British citizen, the process of becoming one yourself is somewhat easier. In short, you have to prove you have been in the UK for three years and have Indefinite Leave to Remain when you apply.
For a more detailed list of all requirements, the UK government clearly states what boxes you need to tick in order to become a British citizen. It’s also important to note that British citizenship law does not require renunciation of prior citizenships. However, you might still want to check the possible legal impediments on dual citizenship of your native country.
The global trend of strict immigration regulations is is undeniable, and UK is no exception. The Migration Observatory reports that “in 2014, just under 125,800 foreign citizens naturalised as British citizens. This was the lowest annual number since 2002, following a period of higher naturalizations by recent historical standards from 2009 to 2013.”
So, the big question is, do you need an immigration lawyer to become a British citizen?
Not necessarily, if you’re eligible (see criteria listed above) and are willing to diligently go through the nuts and bolts yourself. It’s entirely up to you, your own preferences and financial means, and the complexity of your case. One thing is for sure, however: When you’re starting out, having an expert sidekick stick up for you will make navigating the lengthy and complex application process considerably easier. Naturally, an immigration lawyer will guide you through all necessary applications to the Home Office. If, however, things go awry and you suspect your application has been unfairly rejected, this is when you’ll need a bright and competent attorney to stand by your side. Depending on the specifics of your case, you might want to take it to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, Court of Appeal Civil Division, High Court, Supreme Court of England and Wales, or even to the European Court of Civil Rights. Needless to say, you will need a top-notch legal professional specialising in British nationality law to represent your interest in the courthouse.
If you’re looking to settle down and start building a life for yourself in the UK, getting a British citizen status is going to be a milestone of quintessential importance for you. Let’s not leave anything up to chance: Contact Linkilaw for a free quote. We’ll match you with the most apt legal professional who’s going to help you on your path towards the much coveted citizenship certificate.