If someone wishes to acquire citizenship, they must first undertake the process of naturalisation. British naturalisation is a complex application, which has many requirements. These requirements can be found in Schedule 1 Paragraph 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981 (the “Act”). I have summarised them for ease of reading as follows:
(a) To not exceed the allotted absences and to not be in breach of immigration laws; Or,
i. on the date of the application, to be serving outside the United Kingdom in Crown service under the government of the UK;
(b) Be of good character;
(c) Have sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language;
(d) Have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK;
(e) In the event that a certificate of naturalisation is granted, intend to either:
i. Have their principle home in the UK; or
ii. Enter into, or continue in, Crown service under the government of the UK.
Please note, there are two routes to naturalisation. Either section 6(1) of the Act. This is the standard route and requires applicants to have lived in the UK for 5 years (the “5-year route”). Or, section 6(2) of the Act where applicant must be married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen. As such, they are required to have lived in the UK for only 3 years (the “3-year route”).
With the COVID pandemic, a requirement that has recently become an issue to applicants is the absences requirement. This specifies a maximum number of days applicants can be out of the UK during their qualifying period and in the 12 months prior to applying. For the 12 months prior to applying, both routes are allotted the same number of absences. However, the number of days applicants be out of the UK during their qualifying period are different depending on whether the applicant is applying through the 5-year route or the 3-year route.
The normal permitted absences in the applicant’s qualify period are 450 days (5-year route) or 270 days (3-year route). However, 480 days (5-year route) or 300 days (3-year route) will normally be disregarded.
The final band of absence that may be disregarded is 900 days (5-year route) or 540 days (3-year route). However, there are a lot of rules and/or exceptions that must be satisfied if you are relying on this bracket.
- The applicant must meet all other requirements of the application, listed above.
- The applicant must have established their home, family and a substantial part of their estate in the UK.
- If the absences are up to 730 days (5-year route) or 450 days (3-year route) the applicant must have been a resident in the UK for 7 years (5-year route) or 4 years (3-year route). If the absences exceed 730 days (5-year route) or 450 days (3-year route) the applicant must have been a resident in the UK for 8 years (5-year route) or 5 years (3-year route).
- This is unless the absences are a result of either:
- A posting abroad in Crown or designated service (see the section on Crown and designated service). For example, as a member of HM Forces, or as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen serving abroad in Crown or designated service
- An unavoidable consequence of the nature of your work. For example, if you are a merchant seaman or someone working for a UK based business which requires frequent travel abroad
- Exceptional or compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature such as having a firm job offer for which British citizenship is a genuine requirement
- The excess absences were because you were unable to return to the UK because of global pandemic
The normal permitted absences in the final 12 months of the applicant’s qualifying period is 90 days. Up to 100 days will normally be disregarded. For 101 – 179 days, the applicant must either:
- meet all other requirements (listed above), have demonstratable links to the UK through presence of family and have established their home and a substantial part of their estate in the UK.
- have demonstratable links to the UK through presence of family, have established their home and a substantial part of their estate in the UK and their absences are justified by the above list.
For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email email@example.com or visit our Linkedin page.
This information was correct as at July 2022