Citizenship

Contents

01   FAQs

1. Do I have to take the Life in UK test to apply for Citizenship? 
Yes! All applicants have to take this test

2. Do I have to take an English language test?
This depends on your nationality and whether you already have a degree taught in English. See below for further information

3. How much does an application cost? 
Click here for the current fees.

4. Do I have to have my biometrics taken?
Yes, all applicants over 6 years of age are required to have both fingerprints and digital photos taken.

5. Can I make a joint application with my family?
This would depend on whether your spouse and children are eligible to apply. You should read the eligibility requirements below. Spouses in the UK can only apply if they have ILR.

6. Is a joint application cheaper? 
No.

7. Is my child eligible for Citizenship once I am a British Citizen?
This would depend on where the child was born and if the child’s mother has ILR or not, it also may depend on the age of the child and how long they have been in the UK. You should read the children guidance below.

8. Should I apply through a Nationality Checking Service?
This is a personal choice, often it is not required for an application from a soldier because you do not have to meet the same residency requirements, so applications are more straightforward. Spouses may wish to use the service to check they meet the requirements. The added benefit is that they will take a photocopy of your passport so you don’t have to send it away.

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02   Main requirements

  • Knowledge of Language and Life
  • Good Character requirement
  • Evasion of immigration control
  • Requirement to have been in the UK at the start of the five year period
  • Residential requirements
Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK (KoLL) & Q&A.

IMPORTANT – from 5th November 2015 you won’t be able to use ESOL qualifications as proof that you meet the KoLL requirement. Only qualifications on the UKVI SELT (Secure English Language Tests) list taken at an approved centre will be accepted, see below.

You can demonstrate your knowledge of language and life in the UK by:

For more information about this requirement click here. There is also more information about this in Chapter 8 of the Booklet AN.

What happens if my qualification has run out?
Some recognised test qualifications only last for 2 years.  However you can still use a B1 level qualification that’s run out if you’re applying for citizenship and it was accepted when you applied to settle in the UK. It doesn’t matter if the B1 level test you took isn’t on the list of recognised tests now. You don’t need to take another test. Unfortunately as most soldiers don’t need to apply for ILR, this won’t apply.  However it may apply to some spouses who had to have a B1 qualification to aply for ILR.

I already have a certificate in literacy level 1 or 2. Will this cover the new B1 English Language requirement?
The Functional Skills literacy qualification does not meet the requirement because it isn’t a specific ESOL qualification with speaking and listening components. However, AFF is currently looking into this issue.

Can I use Standard Learning Credits (SLC) for the English test?
DEdCap have informed us that SLC cannot be used for exams or a course. The MOD only funds teaching/courses which if of benefit to Service. Citizenship is considered to be a personal choice and is not a requirement of Service. However if the soldier is using SLC for RESETTLEMENT purposes then he would be able to claim it to fund a test as no benefit to the Service is required for resettlement.

Where can I take the B1 English language test in the UK?
You can only take the test at the approved test centres specified on the list.

Good Character requirement

You should read the guidance in the booklet carefully.  Click here, click on ‘Naturalisation Booklet’ then go to section 9 for all information. More detailed information can be found here.

The first and most important point to note is that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is separate from the British Nationality Act 1981 and therefore even if a criminal offence has been ‘spent’ under the terms of the ROA it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is spent for the purposes of an application for citizenship.

  • If you have a non-custodial criminal conviction, then you will be unable to apply for citizenship until three years after your conviction. Non-custodial convictions include court-imposed fines for drink-driving and speeding, as well as fines for assault, battery etc. Fines imposed through a summary hearing or courts marshall also result in a non-custodial criminal conviction
  • If you have a custodial sentence of up to 12 months, you won’t be able to apply until 10 years after your conviction. Custodial convictions include time spend at MCTC
  • Click here for information on which military offences are considered to be criminal
  • You should declare ALL convictions even if they are now ‘spent’
  • Other reasons for refusing based on ‘good character’ include ‘financial soundness’ (e.g. debt), ‘deception and dishonesty’ and ‘immigration related issues’ (e.g. being an overstayer within the previous 10 years, see below taken from the Good character guidance).
Evasion of immigration control

The decision maker will normally refuse an application if, within the 10 years preceding the application, the person has not been compliant with immigration requirements, including but not limited to having:

  1. failed to report
  2. failed to comply with any conditions imposed under the Immigration Acts
  3. been detected working in the UK without permission”

However, there is discretion within the rules to overlook certain immigration breaches.  Get in touch with the F&C team if you are concerned about this.

Requirement to have been in the UK at the start of the 5 year period:

Soldiers: As from 13th May 2014 there is now discretion within the British Nationality Act 1981 to overlook the requirement to have been in the UK on the first day of the 5 year qualifying period for a 6(1) application, if the applicant is or has been a member of the Armed Forces. The guidance states:
We should normally exercise discretion where:

  • The applicant was a member of the UK armed forces on the first day of the 5 year qualifying period, and
  • He or she was unable to be physically present on that date because of his or her service in the armed forces, and
  • He or she meets all the other requirements for section 6(1)

IMPORTANT: This discretion does not apply to BN(O) passport holders applying on form B(OTA).  It also does not apply if you were out of the UK on a non-work related trip.

Spouses – still need to meet this requirement.

  • If you are making a standard application then you must have been in the UK at the start of the 5 year residential requirement. The qualifying period starts 5 years before your application is received by UK. So for example if your application is received by UKVI on 1st December 2015, they will count the start of the 5 year qualifying period as the 2nd December 2010 and will look to see that you were in the UK then.
  • If you are applying as the spouse of a British Citizen you must have been in the UK at the start of the 3 year residential requirement. The qualifying period starts 3 years before your application is received by UK. So for example, if your application is received by UKVI on 1st December 2015, they will count the start of the 3 year qualifying period as the 2nd December 2012 and will look to see if you were in the UK then.
  • Although you can count all time spent overseas AFTER the first day as residence in the UK, you need to have been in the UK on this first date. If you were on an overseas assignment, your application will be refused.
  • If you are currently on an overseas assignment and the soldier is already British then you  may be able to make an application under the Crown Service rules which do not require you to have been in the UK on the 1st day.
Residential requirements
  • Lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
  • Spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • Spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • All time spent serving overseas is counted as residence in the UK (except the first day of the five year period for spouses, see above).
  • Time spent outside the UK but not on overseas assignment does not count as residence

However, this does not apply to spouses of Gurkha soldiers. The Home Office have confirmed that they “cannot overlook excess absences from spouses of serving Gurkhas because they cannot overlook absences from the soldiers themselves.”

 If you are the spouse of a serving Gurkha, and you have spent more than 450 days out of the UK on overseas assignments, your application is likely to fail. Once your soldier has transferred to the wider Army, you would be able to count your absences as residence in the UK.

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03   Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) for Citizenship applications

Since 6 April 2015, it has been a requirement for most applicants for citizenship to have a BRP. This requirement also applies to soldiers who apply.

If you already have a BRP, this must be sent in with the application. If you don’t, you will be sent a letter after you have applied for citizenship asking you to go and enrol your biometrics details at a local post office.

Further details about this can be found on page 13 of the guide AN (Application for naturalisation). There will be a small cost for this service. Children under 18 applying for registration as a British citizen much also enrol their biometric information. Children under the age of six do not need to provide fingerprints, but must have a digital photo taken of their face.

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04   Commonwealth soldiers

Click here for the forms and guide to applying. Commonwealth soldiers:

  • CAN apply for citizenship whilst serving as long as they have lived in UK (or on overseas assignments for five years
  • CAN count any time spent legally in the UK prior to joining the Army. This includes time spent on visit visas
  • DO have to have served for a minimum of 12 months prior to applying
  • DO have to include a unit letter to confirm date of enlistment and that time spent overseas was due to military service. Click here for a template unit letter
  • DO NOT need ILR first
  • DO have to meet the Knowledge of Language and Life requirement (KoLL), regardless of how long they may have served for
  • DO NOT have to meet the requirement to have been in the UK on the first day of the five-year residential qualifying period
  • DO have to meet the good character requirement, including the requirement to have not been unlawfully resident for the previous 10 years
  • DO have to pay the fee
  • SHOULD get a certified copy of their passport to send in with the application.

NOTE – from 1 December 2013 it no longer matters if the soldier becomes a British citizen prior to the spouse applying for ILR. The soldier’s nationality will no longer affect a spouse visa application.

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05   Gurkha soldiers

Gurkhas are not included in the above policy as they remain Nepalese citizens whilst serving with the Brigade.

Gurkhas seeking British citizenship may do so either by transferring to the wider Army after five years’ service, or after discharge by initially applying for settlement and then naturalisation.

Once they have ILR, they can apply for Citizenship immediately if they meet the other main requirements. There is no requirement to wait for 12 months prior to applying. This information is clearly written in the UKVI guidance on  p38 at this link. This applies to all F&C and Gurkha soldiers.

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06   Spouses

Commonwealth spouses
Click here for the form and guidance.

There are two ways to become a British citizen if you are married to a soldier. In both cases, you need to have ILR first.

Normal applications:

  • ILR for 12 months
  • Five years’ resident in UK
  • See ‘Main Requirements’ above

Spouse of British citizen soldier:

  • ILR
  • Three years’ resident in UK
  • See ‘Main Requirements’ above
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07   Joint Applications

Unfortunately as part of the new pricing structure introduced on 6th April 2014, the Home Office has removed the price reduction which was previously given for joint adult applications. It is now necessary to pay the full cost for each adult and child application even if applying at the same time.

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08   BN(O) passport holders

2 options (for all information, click here.)

  • Form B(OTA)
    • 5 years resident in UK
    • Have ILR for 12 months or an exempt stamp
    • You do not need to meet the KoLL requirement
  • Form B(OS)
    • Only available if you have evidence of no other nationality
    • Not full citizenship
    • No residential requirement or requirement to have ILR
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09   Dual Nationality

Click here for all information.

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10   Children

All applications for children need to be made using form MN1, click here for the form and guide. Children are not naturalised, they are registered as British Citizens but process is essentially the same.

a. Citizenship for children born in the UK 

  • Any child born legitimately in the UK to a parent who is in the Armed Forces (including Reserves subject to service law by virtue of s.367(2)(a)-(c) of the 2006 Armed Forces act) is automatically a British Citizen. Click here for evidence.
  • To get a passport you will just need to make a normal application, though it may be advisable to include a letter from the soldiers unit confirming the soldier’s employment.
  • It is not advisable to use a post office checking service as they will probably tell you your child is not eligible.

b. Citizenship for children born in the UK to a non-British parent who, after their birth, becomes a serving HM Forces member 

Children born after 13 Jan 2010: Children in these circumstances are eligible to be registered as a British Citizen under section 1(3A) of the British Nationality Act. They are not eligible for a British Passport until they have been registered.

Children born before 13 Jan 2010: Eligible to be registered under section 1(3). Contact the F&C team if you will be making an application within this section.

c. Citizenship for children born overseas (but not on an overseas assignment) to a British parent

If a child is born in the home country of the parents and one of the parents is a British Citizen at the time of the birth, the child will be born British.

Information about this can be found on page 6 of the guide MN1. However the child will not have full Citizenship, he/she will be a British Citizen by descent only. Children born to parents who are British by descent have no automatic claim to British citizenship.

d. Citizenship for children born outside the UK whilst the soldier was/is on an overseas assignment

All children of F&C personnel born outside the UK while their parent was/is on assignment are eligible to apply to be registered as British Citizens.

  • If your child was born overseas after 13th January 2010 you need to write ‘section 4D’ form in question 1.1 of Form MN1
  • If your child was born overseas before 13th January 2010 you need to write ‘section 3(1) in question 1.1. of Form MN1. It is also advisable to send the following document in with the application, click here.
  • Your child will not be eligible for a British Passport until they have been registered as a British Citizen
  • You will need to include a letter from the unit to confirm that the soldier was serving overseas at the time of birth, the date and place of birth of the child and the date and place of recruitment of the soldier.

Please note: the child’s mother does not have to have been accompanying the soldier on the overseas assignment in order to be eligible to register. If the child was born in Ghana for example whilst the soldier was in Germany, he/she would also be eligible to register. However if the child was born in Ghana whilst the soldier was serving in the UK, then it would not be eligible to register!

As of 1 April 2015 children born to non-British parents serving on an overseas assignment can be registered as British at public expense. For further information refer to 20150408 DIN ‘Family Migration Rules for UK Armed Forces family members who are Non-British’.

e. Citizenship for children born outside the UK, but not during an overseas assignment:

  • One parent should be a British citizen and the other should be settled or a British citizen; **where the British citizen parent is the spouse, it is not necessary for the soldier to also be a British citizen as the exempt stamp acts as ILR
  • The child should have ILR. Although the guidance allows for children to be registered if both parents are settled in the UK (regardless of the status of the child), the Nationality Department have said that this isn’t an automatic route and each case is assessed on its merits. They do not recommend people bypassing the ILR route to save money as there is always a risk of refusal
  • Parents with sole responsibility can apply once they are British themselves
  • Most applications will be considered under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act and registration will be at UKVIs discretion

For a list of criteria that are used to assess such applications, read page 16 of the Guide MN1

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11   Overseas applications

KEY POINT: Make sure you are not due posting within the next six months. UKVI will not usually return your documents until a decision has been made on your application. Applications take on average between four to six months to process. If you are due a posting and have not had your passport returned to you, you must inform your unit who should raise the issue to HQ BFG.

Click here for the form and guides to applying.

 Adult applications Q&A 

Soldier applications overseas:

  • Read the ‘Main requirements’ section above carefully.
  • Soldiers overseas can make normal applications for Citizenship, you are not required to complete the Crown Service section of the form.
  • You should get a certified copy of your passport to send in with the application. DO NOT send in the original passport.

Spouse applications under Crown Service rules:

  • Read the ‘Main requirements’ section above. You are not required to meet the residence requirements when applying under the Crown Service rules. However you must meet the KoLL and Good Character requirements
  • Must be married to a British Citizen
  • Soldier must have been recruited in UK (Crown Service not available to spouses of Gurkhas who have transferred to the wider Army*).
  • Letter from Unit to confirm you are accompanying the soldier on an overseas assignment. This is not a letter of support, merely a letter confirming facts.
  • Click here to download and edit the letter to include your details link to crown service doc

*Spouses of ex-GurkhasOnly spouses of soldiers who were enlisted in the UK are eligible to apply using the Crown Service rules. This means that spouses of Gurkhas who have transferred to the wider Army are not able to apply. AFF has raised this issue and it has been discussed at top-level MOD/UKBA meetings. Unfortunately we have been informed that although UKBA agree this is an unfair rule, to change this will mean a change in primary legislation which realistically is not going to happen when this affects a relatively small number of people. You may be able to make a standard application instead, see below.

Spouse ‘standard’ applications:

  • Soldier is British
  • Spouse has ILR
  • Must meet requirement to have been in the UK at the start of the 3 year residential period as well as all other requirements. Read the ‘Main requirements’ section above. Your time out of the UK on overseas assignments if you are a commonwealth spouse will count as residence.
  • Unfortunately, if you are the spouse of a Gurkha soldier you are disadvantaged because you are not eligible to count your time spent out of the UK as residence in the UK.
  • It is recommended that you contact the F&C Team for a covering letter to go with the application.

Can we make a joint application?

AFF has recently assisted with a successful joint application, so it seems that this is a possible route if all main requirements are met. Both the spouse and soldier would need to meet the main requirements, see above. You would need to complete two application forms. It is also advised that you contact the F&C team for a supporting letter to send off with the applications. However it is no longer cheaper to make a joint application so it may be less risky to wait until the soldier becomes a British Citizen and then apply under the Crown Service rules if you are still overseas.

Can I still apply for Crown Service even if I have a valid visa?
Yes

Do I have to go to a nationality checking service in the UK to apply?
No, in fact this is not advised as your application may not be considered under the crown service rules and could be refused.

Can I send in certified copies of my passport?
Soldiers can do this through their unit. UKBA have informed us that spouses can use certified copies but every page of the passport will need to be certified. This will need to be done by an authorised legal professional.

What address should I put on the form?
You should put your home address not your BFPO address on the form. However, if possible, you should send your application special delivery with a self-addressed envelope pre-paid for special delivery back to your BFPO address. Unfortunately in Germany it appears that some documents are currently being sent to the British Embassy in Berlin instead of to individual addresses. This can delay the process by week.

What will happen next?
If the naturalisation application is successful, you will receive two letters; one from the Home Office confirming the application success which should come in the pre-paid envelope with all of your documents and one from your nearest consulate or High Commission which should come to your home address. You will need to contact the consulate to arrange a time to attend the citizenship ceremony; this must be done within 90 days of receiving the letter. The citizenship certificate is issued at the ceremony.

What do I do if I am refused Citizenship
You should contact the AFF F&C team, click here.  We may be able to assist if your application has been wrongly refused.

English Language and Life in the UK test centres overseas

Where can I take the English language test on an overseas assignment?
You need to use your nearest IELTS examination centre. These are usually offered in major cities worldwide on a regular basis and can be booked online. The exam has 9 levels but you only need to pass at level 4 to meet the B1 requirement. You should check that the course and test centre are listed on the SELT list.

The British Council in Dusseldorf is the only accepted place to take the IELTS exam in Germany. They offer the IELTS exam in Dusseldorf 2-3 times a month. This costs 220 Euros.

The British Council in Cyprus offers the IELTS exam once or twice a month. The test costs 204 Euros.

Where can I book and take the Life in the UK test?
Registrations for the Life in the UK Test are booked online and it still costs £50.00. Details must be correct and match EXACTLY to the personal details on the candidates’ passport. All rules and regulations can be found on the link above. The ID used to book the test (preferably something with a photograph) should be brought to the place of the test to confirm identity and to confirm personal details. Candidates are asked to arrive early to the test centre to confirm attendance and fill out any other registration paperwork. Failure to attend without good reason or due notification means that the fee paid is lost. Every test thereafter will cost £50.00.

  • Germany – book online and select BFPO option and location. Sennelager is now the location for the Life in UK test in Germany.  Contact 41 AEC – e-Learning Centre, Normandy Barracks  05254 982 4133.  Opening hours Mon -Thurs 08:30 – 16:30 and Fri 08:30 – 12:00 (subject to exams). Please note the centre cannot answer enquiries about the test, refer to the Life in UK Test website for information.
  • Cyprus – book online and select the BFPO option and location. The Life in UK test can be taken at the 55 Army Education Centre in Episkopi. There are only 6 available places per month. Contact Sharon Ollerhead based at 55 AEC Episkop on 00357 2596 2129.  Dii email: BFC-JETS-55AEC-ElecLearnCntrMgr@mod.uk

Biometrics
You are advised to write on the application form (part 6) which country you wish to take your biometrics in. You should be sent a letter with the nearest locations. If you receive a letter asking your to have your biometrics taken in a different country then you should email ocbeappointments@tlscontact.com stating your name, date of birth and reference number, country and city of application.

Children’s applications

UPDATE – As of 1 April 2015 children born to non-British parents serving on an overseas assignment can be registered as British at public expense. For further information refer to 20150408 DIN ‘Family Migration Rules for UK Armed Forces family members who are Non-British’.

All children of F&C personnel born outside the UK while their parent is on assignment are required to apply for a passport for them as soon as possible after the birth. If however one parent is British then the child will be born British and will have full British Citizenship.

IMPORTANT – Your child will not be eligible for a British Passport until they have been registered as a British Citizen

Citizenship for children born outside the UK whilst the soldier is on an overseas assignment:

  • Complete form MN1
  • You will need to include a letter from the unit to confirm that the soldier was serving overseas at the time of birth, the date and place of birth of the child and the date and place of recruitment of the soldier.
  • You should also send in the birth certificate and a copy of the soldiers passport.

Passports

2014DIN01-108:

All Service personnel and members of the civilian component and their dependants, regardless of their nationality, who are required to travel on official duty to, or are assigned to, a country that requires a valid passport, are to be provided with one at public expense. Click here for the DIN.

One-year passport for soldiers update (2017DIN01-073):

On 26 February 2017, Her Majesty’s Passport Office waived the routine requirement for Service personnel in the UK and overseas applying for their first adult British passport to attend an identity interview. Only where there are concerns about identity will an interview still be required.

Service personnel who have already been issued a restricted validity passport will have a full passport issued at the point of renewal.

Please note:  The process for dependants is being reviewed and an update will be provided as soon as possible.

One-year passport for spouses

  • The passport grants you the same rights as a full passport
  • You will not be able to attend an interview at your nearest consulate; this service is not available to military personnel or their partners.
  • If your one-year passport is due to expire you should apply for a new one using the standard application form, which you can get from your unit – please refer to 2014DIN01-108 above. Do not apply online. This should be refunded by the unit in line with JSP 752 Annex A, Serial 5, Section 13, Chapter 10.
  • It is not advised that you attempt to travel to the UK to apply for a full passport whilst based overseas. A couple of spouses have tried this and have been left stuck in the UK for three months whilst waiting for their passports to be issued.
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12   I am an EEA national married to a British soldier, can I apply for Citizenship?

Refer to the guidance on our Brexit page.

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13   Nationality Checking Service and Helpline (UK only)

  • provided by Local Authorities (for example your county council or city council).
  • will accept and forward your application to the Nationality Directorate.
  • will ensure that your form is correctly completed, and will copy your documents and return them to you.
  • will not give you nationality advice.
  • For more information and to find out where your nearest one is click here.
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14   Contact Information

Click here for information on how to contact UKVI regarding Citizenship applications.

To request your documents to be returned: www.gov.uk/visa-documents-returned

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