Meeting the Residency Requirements for Naturalisation
In the first instalment of this blog on ‘becoming British’ we looked at two of the three most important requirements – good character and Knowledge of Language and Life (KoLL). Now we will look at the third which is regarding residency. Geographically residency refers to time spent within the UK and Islands – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. How long you will need to have been resident will depend for most applicants on whether you are married to a British citizen or not.
Residency Requirements for Naturalisation
If you are then you will need to show that you have been in the UK for the last three years and that you are at the time of applying ‘free from immigration time restrictions’, that in most instances refers to you having previously been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain or another version of ‘settlement’ status. You will then be required to prove that within the last three years you have not been outside of the UK for more than 270 days and within that allowance, no more than 90 days in the most recent 12 months. This residency requirement is therefore much tougher than the one needing to be met at Indefinite Leave to Remain which is generally recognised at being 6 months in any one year, and can therefore cause problems for those who have only recently acquired their settled status. There is however, a degree of discretion which can be exercised by the caseworker with regard to absences and the reasons for them. If, you have for example been abroad a lot due to your employment but do consider the UK to be your main residence and in doing so your family, finances and property are all based in the UK, then your application may be granted; also if the reason is ‘exceptional’ for a compassionate reason.
For those applicants not married to a British citizen, you will first of all need to have held ‘settlement’ status for at least 12 months before submitting an application and provide evidence of the required residency for the 5 years prior, instead of three. Applicants will need to have been absent no more than 450 days and again no more than 90 days in the most recent 12 months. Discretion can, as before, be exercised based upon a case-by-case basis.
One final point to consider is that applicants must have been physically present in the UK on the day 3 years (or 5 depending upon the basis of the application) before the application is submitted. Many applications are refused in this way and as a result the £1330.00 application fee is lost.
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