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Nationality laws in UK

Laws for nationality in UK keep changing time to time. It is therefore paramount for a person seeking the UK nationality to keep him or herself abreast of the current situation and ensure that they are following the regulations to the letter. The recent guide to Naturalization as a British citizen has been published by the Home Office on July 14, 2017.

We have penned down some key requirements that we feel you can look into while applying for your nationality here in the UK. Look through these requirements, and use it to plan your application.

The basics

Depending on the individual, requirements can vary. for example, if you are married, or in a civil partnership, section 6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 would be applicable, otherwise, section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 would apply. In both cases, there are some general requirements that the individual must adhere to.

The applicant needs to be an adult and at least over 18 years of age. He or she must not be involved in any immigration offence in the last 10 years. The applicant must also meet fundamental English requirements and should have lived in the UK for the last 5 years before applying for nationality. Many applications are rejected because applicants fail to satisfy their presence in UK for this mandatory period. Children however, are not included in this regulation – they cannot be naturalized unless they have the discretion of the Home Secretary, or have an entitlement.

Living in the UK

Naturalization laws indicate that the individual applying for nationality has to display their commitment to the kingdom. This is portrayed by their life, their residence and their work. The person must not have spent more than 450 days outside UK in the last five years. Moreover, he or she also needs to prove that they did not spend more than 90 days in the last 12 months outside of UK. However, time spent by diplomats or foreign missions is not included in the criteria.

English knowledge

When a person applies for UK nationality it is understood that a person agrees to respect the law, citizenship responsibilities, British values, customs and traditions. therefore, good knowledge of English language is a prerequisite so that communication and interaction with the locals is also easy and clear. A person may also be required to appear for B1 CERF English proficiency test taken at centres approved by the Home Office. Otherwise, English knowledge is applicable if the applicant has a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree received in the UK or in any English-speaking country where medium of teaching is English and the degree is recognized in the UK.

Life in the UK Test

While you prepare to apply for the UK citizenship you need to appear in Life in the UK test, it is advised to fully prepare before any attempt is made. A guide to this test is available at TSO (The Stationery Office) outlets and is also available to order from In case of any further assistance or details, you can visit the test website: When you book for the test you will be asked to submit the following details:

  • Biometric residence permit
  • Passport
  • Home Office Travel Document
  • Home Office entitlement card
  • Home Office ARC letter
  • Photo driving licence

Once a person is registered he or she is required to deposit test fee directly to the Test Centre through the website. Fee structure is subject to change and must be checked at that point in time. It takes around 45 minutes to complete the test, that has 24 questions. False information, cheating or bribing are strictly prohibited; anyone found guilty not only loses the chance for citizenship but may also face prosecution. When an applicant clears the test, he or she will be handed over a letter, a copy of which will be sent to Home Office. There is no limit to the times you can take this test if you fail the first attempt.

Biometric Enrolment

UK nationality law binds all applicants to go through biometric registration. The applicant is required to visit designated Post Office for facial image and finger print enrolment. The record is usually kept till the time the applicant appears for citizenship ceremony.


UK citizenship law makes it mandatory that the applicant possesses a good moral character and is not involved in any criminal activity. Even though the British Nationality Act 1981 does not clarify what is meant by good character, the Annexure D in Chapter 18 of Nationality Instructions indicate that good character is applicable on anyone over the age of 10, who is applying for nationality either under: the statelessness provisions in Schedule 2 of the BAN 1981, or; section 4B of the Act from an eligible applicant.

An applicant should have a clear record both in the UK as well as their home country. The applicant may undergo several checks to ensure that information provided is true in letter and spirit. Any misinformation or false declaration may deprive the applicant of their nationality. This falsification is also considered a criminal offence leading to severe prosecution in the UK. By law, deception in any way is not acceptable, any wrong information or submitting fraudulent documents to Home Office in last 10 years will be considered an offence.  Criminal activities and other offences also become part of the “good character”.

Immigration Issues

If an applicant has entered UK dodging immigration control and has concealed this information or has helped someone cross borders illegally, or has hired illegal immigrants, will be refused citizenship status. A detailed description of such activities can be found in Schedule 8 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001 in the legislation. You can always refer to this schedule here.

Criminal activities

UK’s nationality laws are quite stringent when it comes to any kind of criminal activities. Any person found involved in or is an accomplice of below mentioned activities will not be allowed UK citizenship.

  • War Crimes
  • Terrorism
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity

Nationality laws for people who have a spouse as a British citizen, vary. It is therefore advised that such people should visit the website to find out more on the subject. Whatever the case may be, a person must evaluate himself or herself first, and judge their eligibility. Rest assured that you can polish a lot of your skills before you present yourself in front of the immigration authorities.

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