Immigration Law Specialists

Visa, Immigration, Nationality and Human Rights Law.

Immigration Law Specialists

Visa, Immigration, Nationality and Human Rights Law.

Settlement And Naturalisation

Applying For Settlement From Inside The UK

You can apply for settlement in the UK if you have lived continuously in the UK for the number of years specified by the relevant Immigration Rules guiding your category of extant leave. You must be in the UK when you apply using the required application form and pay the required application fee.

However, you must make your application before your current permission to stay in the UK expires.

If you are already in the UK but you have not been here long enough to apply for settlement, you can apply to extend your temporary permission to stay.


Applying For Settlement In The Working Categories

On 13 December 2012 the Home Office updated the Immigration Rules to set out the absences that those who are working or who are in business here are allowed to be absent from the UK in the qualifying period for settlement.

These permitted absences are for work-related settlement only. If you are applying for British Citizenship there are different requirements and if you are absent from the UK during your settlement qualifying period your citizenship application may be effected


Applications For Naturalisation

Persons over 18 who are not British citizens can naturalise as British citizens once they have a settled status.

Naturalisation requirements are different for spouses of British citizens and other prospective applicants with a settled status.

There are seven requirements you need to meet before you apply:

  • You must be aged 18 or over.
  • You must be of sound mind.
  • You must intend to continue living in the UK, or to continue in Crown service, the service of an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or the service of a company or association established in the UK.
  • You must be able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable degree.
  • You must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
  • You must be of good character.
  • You must meet the residential requirements (see below).

Residential Requirements

To demonstrate the residential requirements for naturalisation, you must have:

  • been resident in the UK for at least five years (this is known as the residential qualifying period); and
  • been present in the UK five years before the date of your application; and
  • not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five-year period; and
  • not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the five-year period; and
  • not been in breach of the Immigration Rules at any stage during the five-year period.


When Does The Residential Qualifying Period Start?

The residential qualifying period is calculated from the day when we receive your application. Most unsuccessful applications fail because the applicant was not present in the UK at the beginning of the residential qualifying period. You must make sure you meet this requirement before you make your application. For example, if we receive your application on 25 March 2010, you must show that you were in the UK on 26 March 2005.

If you have spent time in the UK while you were exempt from immigration control, you cannot include this time as part of the residential qualifying period. If you were in the UK as a diplomat or as a member of visiting armed forces, or if you were in any place of detention, you are considered to have been exempt from immigration control during that time. This time is treated as absence from the UK when we assess your application.


Immigration Time Restrictions

You must be free from immigration time restrictions when you apply for naturalisation. Unless you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you should have been free from immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the residential qualifying period.

If you are free from immigration time restrictions, there will probably be a stamp or sticker in your passport saying that you have indefinite leave to enter or remain or no time limit on your stay. But you may have a letter from the Home Office saying that you are free from immigration conditions.


European Economic Area Nationals and Swiss Nationals

If you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or you are the family member of such a person, you will automatically have permanent residence status if you have exercised EEA free-movement rights in the UK for a continuous five-year period ending on or after 30 April 2006. You do not need to apply for leave to remain. You should have held permanent residence status for 12 months before you apply for naturalisation.

If you have been outside the UK for six months or more in any one of the five years of the residence period, you will have broken your residence. This does not apply if:

  • the absence was due to military service; or
  • all absences were for under 12 months and were for important reasons such as pregnancy, childcare, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

If you leave the UK for a continuous period of two years or more, you will lose your permanent residence status.

If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, you will be considered to be settled here provided that you have not been away for two years or more since you received ILR.


Breach of Immigration Laws During Residential Qualifying Period

You must have been in the UK legally throughout the residential qualifying period. We may refuse your naturalisation application if you have breached the immigration laws during that period.


Absences From The UK During The Residential Qualifying Period

During the residential qualifying period, you must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days. You must not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months.


Crown Service

If you are applying on the grounds of your Crown service instead of your residence in the UK, you must show that you:

  • are serving overseas in Crown service on the date when your application is received; and
  • have been the holder of a responsible post overseas; and
  • have given outstanding service, normally over a substantial period; and
  • have a close connection with the UK.

Crown service is an alternative only to the residence requirements for naturalisation. You must still meet the other requirements for naturalisation.

As with spouses of British citizens, discretion can be exercised where the permitted limit of absence was exceeded due to compassionate and exceptional circumstances, or due to requirements of business or employment.

Unlike the applicants for an extension of stay in the UK, applicants for naturalisation are not required to remain in the UK while their application is under consideration.

We provide full legal advice under consultation for a fee. During the Consultation we will conduct comprehensive assessment of your circumstance and discuss with you concerning your future plans.

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