Applying for British citizenship with settled status
For some settled status is their end goal and they don’t see the need to go any further. For others acquiring settled status is just a step towards British citizenship. In this blog we look at the route from settled status to British Citizenship and applying for British Citizenship with settled status.
If you want to apply for British citizenship or have questions about settled status call the specialist British Citizenship and immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments can be made via video call, Skype or telephone.
Can you apply for British Citizenship with settled status?
UK immigration solicitors get asked the question “Can I apply for British Citizenship with settled status?” a lot when EU nationals are applying for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. For some British Citizenship isn’t important whereas for others they are almost counting the days before they can apply for British Citizenship, viewing settled status as being in limbo, neither British or European.
Legally, if you have pre-settled status or settled status you don’t lose your original nationality so if you have secured your status under the EU Settlement Scheme you are not actually in limbo as you are an overseas national with the right to live and work in the UK. However, UK immigration solicitors recognize that once you have committed your long-term future to a country you often want to seal that commitment by securing nationality.
What do you need to prove to get British Citizenship if you have settled status?
The British Citizenship application process is the same, whether you are an EU national or a non-EEA national or whether you have Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status. However, you will need to supply different paperwork to support your application depending on your Immigration status.
All applicants for British Citizenship need to meet the eligibility criteria, namely:
- You must be age at least eighteen ( although a child can't apply for British Citizenship they can apply to register as a British citizen if they meet the relevant criteria)
- You must have held settled status or Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least twelve months (this twelve-month requirement doesn’t apply to you if you are married to a British citizen or a person who is referred to as a settled person. You can also apply for British Citizenship if you have permanent residence without having to hold permanent residence for twelve-months before making your nationality application)
- You have lived in the UK for at least five years (the residence requirement is reduced to three years if you are married to a British citizen or a settled person)
- You meet the residence requirement and the absence rules. This means you can't have been absent from the UK for more than ninety days during the previous twelve-month period and have not been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the previous five-year period
- Not have breached Immigration rules
- Be of good character
- Meet the English language requirement and Life in the UK test
- Intend to live and have your main home in the UK after you have secured your British Citizenship.
The twelve-month requirement for British Citizenship with settled status
It can be galling to hear that once you have obtained your settled status you have to wait an extra twelve-months before you can apply for British Citizenship but it is a mandatory requirement that an applicant for British Citizenship can't have been subject to any Immigration restriction or limit on their time in the UK during the twelve-month period immediately preceding their British Citizenship application.
British citizenship solicitors say that there are four key points:
- You don’t have to wait twelve months before applying for British Citizenship if you have permanent residence rather than settled status
- The twelve-month rule doesn’t apply if you are married to a British citizen or settled person
- If you haven’t already applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme it is in your best interests to do so as quickly as you can because the cut-off date for new applications is the 30 June 2021 and the sooner you secure your settled status the sooner the twelve-month clock starts to run
- If you have less than twelve-months of settled status you can start to get your British Citizenship application started by taking legal advice and sorting out the necessary paperwork so that your British citizenship solicitor is ready to submit your British nationality application as soon as the twelve-month deadline is reached.
Settled status to British Citizenship and the residence requirement
To secure British Citizenship you have to have been lawfully present in the UK for five years before your application to the Home Office. If you are married to a British citizen the time period is reduced to three years but, in any event, you need to have been in the UK for at least five years to secure your settled status and, unless you are married to a British citizen, you then need to wait another year before you can apply to become a British citizen.
With a British Citizenship application there are extended absence rules to consider. Under the Immigration rules you can't have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days in the last five years (or 270 days in the last three years if you are married to a British citizen).
Furthermore, you can't have been absent from the UK for more than ninety days in the twelve-month period prior to the date of your British Citizenship application. If you are in breach of this Immigration rules then British citizenship solicitors can advise on whether you meet one of the exemptions to the rule.
The lawful residence requirement for British Citizenship applications
Not only does a British Citizenship applicant have to have lived in the UK for a minimum of six years ( five years for settled status and one year with settled status) your residence must have been “lawful”. This throws up particular issues for some British Citizenship applicants who hold settled status.
You might assume that no one at the Home Office would question your first five years residence when applying for British Citizenship as after all you will have satisfied Home Office officials that you meet the residence requirement for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme . However, confusingly for those with settled status who are applying for British Citizenship, the rules on lawful residence are different for settled status and British Citizenship applications.
For the purposes of a British citizenship application, your five years residence in the UK used for your settled status application doesn’t necessarily mean that you were lawfully resident during the same time frame when considering the residence requirement and your British Citizenship application.
There is a difference in the settled status and the British Citizenship application residence requirement because the EU Settlement Scheme only needs you to prove that you have met the continuous residence requirement. In contrast, the British Citizenship application process requires that you not only meet the residence requirement but that you are also in the UK lawfully under EEA regulations. If you aren’t sure if you meet the British Citizenship residence requirement as you aren’t certain about if you complied with the EEA regulations (because, for example, some of the residence requirement was met whilst you were studying in the UK or financially inactive) the best option is to take specialist legal advice from British citizenship solicitorsbefore submitting your application.
Our friendly specialist London based immigration solicitors can answer your British Citizenship and immigration questions and look at your immigration options and routes to British Citizenship. For the best advice on British Citizenship and settlement in the UK call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.