Permanent Residency (ILR) & British Citizenship
This is a Permanent UK visa that is officially called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and allows a person to stay in the UK indefinitely (forever). UK Visa Applicants in most cases obtain this status after 5 years of being in the UK however care should be taken where you may have been outside of the UK for more than the period stipulated by the Home Office (during the 5 years) as this will affect how the application is assessed. If you have too many unauthorised absences during the 5 year continuous period procedure it may result in your application being refused.
You can apply for an ILR under most categories within 28 days before the end of your 'qualifying period'. The most common categories for being eligible for ILR are generally under the UK Settlement Visa route which includes Spouses, Unmarried Partners and Same Sex Partners. For Foreign spouses and partners of UK citizens it is normally 5 years of being resident in the UK depending on the visa issue or physical entry date before they can apply for ILR.
For most others applicants under Tier 2 General Work Permit Visas and Tier 1 such as the UK Entrepreneur Visa it is also 5 years and for Long Residence applications it is 10 years of lawful residence. For many Tier 2 applicants they must show that they earn in excess of £35,000 per year in order to be eligible for ILR.
Naturalisation and Registration for British Citizenship
It is possible to become a British citizen by naturalisation or registration. Generally, naturalisation as a British citizen will occur after residing for a qualifying period of time in the UK which is normally after 5 years and holding Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). You normally have to hold ILR for at least 12 months before being eligible to apply for British Citizenship. The vast majority of registration for British Citizen applications relate to applicants under the age of 18 years.
British Citizenship is normally granted in your 6th year of being resident in the UK as the majority of ILR applications are granted after 5 years. However overseas Spouses of British Citizens can apply for British Citizenship immediately after being granted ILR / Permanent Residency and DO NOT need to wait for an additional 12 months before making a Naturalisation application to the Home Office. The Home Office also look very carefully at the residential qualifying period during the 5 years preceding your Naturalisation application and lengthy absences from the UK will result in your application being refused.
Another aspect to consider is that you must pass the British Citizenship Life in the UK Test and where required a B1 level English Test however you may have already done this as part of an ILR application. More importantly you must have passed the Life in the UK test and the B1 English test for ILR in order for your application to be properly considered by the Home Office Visa Official. We can help with the B1 Level English Test by providing a mock English test examination so you can be fully prepared before you attend your approved home office Secure English Language Test. If you passed the Life in the UK and B1 English Test for the ILR application requirements then you will not have to sit these tests under the UK Naturalisation requirements.
Once your Naturalisation application is approved by the Home Office, you will be invited to attend a British Citizenship ceremony. This ceremony will take place in your local council area in the UK only. Once you have done this, you will be eligible to submit an application for a British passport to the Identity and Passport Service.