Times are changing, and this paradigm has countless implications in the way we used to do things. While it seems that the times are taking a turn for the worse, perhaps we shouldn’t be too pessimistic, as good comes out of that, as well.
Applying for British citizenship, for instance, will become a breeze in the near future thanks to a not-that-revolutionary implementation, but nonetheless more than welcome.
Let’s take a closer look at what changed and how that impacts the ones who want to acquire British citizenship.
The Old and New Ways of Applying for British Citizenship
Becoming a British citizen has been a hassle dabbed in bureaucracy for a long, long time. If one pursued this, he/she had to fill in a form and then mail it to the Home Office.
This was a time-consuming process, to say the least. Due to the large waiting list and the time needed to process hundreds of other applications, an applicant had to wait up to 1 month to have his documentation reviewed and hear the verdict.
As of February of the current year, however, this tedious process was finally saved: the Home Office spearheaded an online application that has already facilitated the process of applying for citizenship to a degree that nobody could’ve foreseen.
These days, you can submit your application and keep the required documentation until the Home Office has processed the said application. This application has to be sent via the Nationality Document Return Service.
The Next Steps
The next step you should take after having submitted your citizenship application successfully is to visit a nearby local authority that caters to the Home Office. This is where you’ll be photocopying all those documents you’ve held on to.
These will be sent to the Home Office by the authority you’ve booked an appointment at. You should know that the local authority will perceive a certain fee for the service and that you should book an appointment within 10 days from the date you’ve submitted the online application form.
It might look like nothing – at least nothing major – changed in the whole process of applying and acquiring British citizenship.
The reality is that the waiting time has been halved ever since the online form became available. Another perk of the changes in the process of applying for citizenship is that you can actually apply for a British passport when you submit all the documents via the Nationality Document Return Service. So, there you have it: you hit two birds with one stone.
Needless to say, this wasn’t possible when you had to fill in the form by hand and send it to the Home Office by mail.
Criteria to Be Met
Even though the process has become easier and timelier, there are strict criteria that all the applicants for British citizenship have to fulfill:
- At least 5 years of residence in the United Kingdom or 3 if the applicant is married to a native UK citizen.
- Must have an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK for a minimum of 1 full year before the date of the application.
- Must have a thorough grasp of English language and be versed in all the aspects of living in the United Kingdom.
- Must not have a criminal record and must show his/her good character.
- You must have the following documents sent to the Home Office on your behalf by the local authority (it’s your responsibility to have all of them on your person) as photocopies: I.D. and/or passport, the supporting documentation, the checklist that’ll be given to you upon completing the online form and the referee page. You will have to attach photographs to this last document. Moreover, if you choose to apply for a passport, as well, you must go down to the post office, ask for a passport application form, fill it in and then photocopy that, too.
The Application Fee
The fee for the naturalization application is £1.282. If you needed one more reason to make sure that your documentation is complete and fulfills all the eligibility requirements we’ve enumerated above, here it is:
The £1.282 is non-refundable.
In other words, if for some reason, the Home Office decides to reject your application, you won’t get your money back. We advise you to take your time with the documents and to fill in the form in line with the instructions.
Important: You can’t use the online citizenship application unless you live in the U.K. If you want to apply for British citizenship but you’re currently residing outside of the United Kingdom, you’ll have to go here, download the paper form, fill it in and then send it to the Home Office.
We’re positive that this will burst a lot of people’s bubbles, but it kind of makes sense to reserve this service to those who live in the United Kingdom.
As a Conclusion
As you can clearly see, it got exponentially easier for you to apply for British citizenship as long as you’ve lived there for 5 or 3 years, respectively. This shouldn’t warrant handling the documentation recklessly.
£1.282 isn’t that small of an amount of money, so you better ensure that you’ve done everything by the book instead of filling the application in a hurry. You can find a lot more information pertaining to the process on the official website of the British Government.
We’ve already given a link to it on two occasions in this article. We hope that you’ve understood how things work now and that you’ll get your citizenship a lot sooner than you would have gotten it by filling out the paper form.
Although Brexit might come as a package deal with further changes to the process of applying for British naturalization as well as to the fees perceived to this end, there is no sign at the moment that this will indeed happen.
If it does, we will get back with new information and we’ll let you know what exactly changed.
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