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Guides: Obtaining UK Citizenship

We have written numerous articles about migrants who live and work in the UK. Some have called the UK home for many years and have started businesses, bought homes, and started families. Others we have profiled have been here for a far shorter period of time.  While we have not profiled any of them yet, a number of migrants to the UK have decided to take the next step and apply for UK citizenship.

Before going into a brief overview of the steps to becoming a UK citizen, it is important to note that the recent Brexit referendum has no bearing on the process of becoming a citizen.  While there is little doubt that some migrants are considering obtaining citizenship due to the referendum, people have sought to become citizens of the UK for many years and long before Brexit was even a word in the English vocabulary.  We should also point out that both sides of the referendum have stressed the need to protect the status of current UK residents.

Citizenship indeed goes far deeper than just obtaining a place to live and work.  For those wishing to take that step and become a “naturalised” (the most common method) British citizen, the process is fairly simple.


In general in order to apply for citizenship you must meet certain criteria.

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You have to be of good character. This means that you cannot have a serious criminal record or a recent arrest. Any Home Office problems or immigration offenses, which have occurred over the past 10 years can also cause your application to be rejected.
  • You plan to continue to live in the UK.
  • You meet all residency requirements.

Some of the other things the government will look for include:

  • You have lived in the UK for at least 5 years prior to your application.
  • You have spent no more than 450 days outside of the UK during the past 5 years.
  • You have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the past year.
  • You had indefinite leave to remain in the UK if you are a citizen of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • If you are an EEA country citizen, you have to show that you had permanent residence status for the past 12 months.



As part of the citizenship process you will be required to successfully complete a couple of tests.

English Language Test

 The first is an English language test.  You do not have to take the test if you have certain qualifications. Having an English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level or a degree which was taught or researched in English is sufficient; however it in necessary to show proof of your qualification.  The successful completion of an English for Speakers of Other Languages course given by an accepted test centre is also adequate. No other qualifications are considered.

Sample questions

The questions on the test are fairly straightforward. Here are some examples from a recent newspaper article.

Finish the sentence: “I have been living in Madrid…”

  1. …since ten years
  2. …ten years ago
  3. …ten years
  4. …for ten years

Finish the sentence: “Have you finished with the newspaper …”

  1. …still?
  2. …already?
  3. …yet?
  4. …now?

Finish the sentence: “… people eat very healthy food.”

  1. Very less..
  2. Very few…
  3. Very little…
  4. Very least…


Life in the UK Test

The second is a life in the UK test which will test your knowledge on the customs, traditions, and culture. The test consists of 24 questions and applicants are given 45 minutes to complete the test.  All of the information needed to complete the test along with study tips and other aids can be found in the official “Life in the UK” book. (Be sure to get the latest edition.)  Registration for the test is £50.

Sample questions

Which TWO are British Overseas territories?

  1. The Falkland Islands
  2. Hawaii
  3. St Helena
  4. Ireland

Which Two British film actors have recently won Oscars?

  1. Colin Firth
  2. Tilda Swinton
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio
  4. Jacky Stewart


Other than the cost of the book (about £13) and the test fee, the only fee is the application fee of £1236. (Although in some cases a biometric form must be completed. This consists of a photo and your fingerprints and costs about £20.) The fee must be paid at the time of the application and can be paid with a credit or debit card. Incomplete or a rejected payment will result in the application being returned.

Where to Apply

One of the easiest places to apply is online at Gov.UK. You can also apply at designated offices throughout the UK. A list of those offices is also available on the site.




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