Citizenship

Contents

01   FAQs

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Yes! All applicants have to take this test. Click here to book.

This depends on your nationality and whether you already have a degree taught in English. See below for further information.

Click here for the current fees.

Yes, all applicants over 6 years of age are required to have both fingerprints and digital photos taken.

Each person applying has to complete a separate application, children apply on different forms. You can all apply together, but only if you all meet the eligibility requirements.

No.

Not necessarily, you are advised to read the information in section 07 below and to contact the F&C team if you are unsure about the immigration status of your children.

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02   Main requirements for spouses and soldiers

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Soldiers

During Service, soldiers are exempt from immigration control under section 8(4)(a) of the Immigration Act 1971. This exemption means that you can apply for Citizenship without first requiring indefinite leave/settlement. However, as soon you discharge, you are no longer exempt and will need to apply for ILR before you can apply for Citizenship.

Spouses

Spouses will need indefinite leave (or settlement under the EU settlement scheme) in all cases before you can apply for Citizenship. DO NOT make an application for Citizenship if you don’t have ILR/settlement as the application will be refused and you could become an overstayer. Refer to the relevant sections on this website for information on how gain ILR/settlement.

IMPORTANT – from 5 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:

There is also more information about this in Booklet AN page 21 onwards.

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 apply for ILR.

You should read the guidance in the booklet carefully – page 25 onwards. More detailed information can be found here.

The following convictions will usually prevent you from applying for Citizenship. You have to declare all convictions regardless of the date. If you have been charged with a criminal offence and are awaiting trial or sentencing, you are advised not to make any application for registration until the outcome is known.

This is just a summary – you are advised to read the guidance above for further information.

  • A custodial conviction* of 4 years or more
  • A custodial conviction of 12 months to 4 years (unless 15 years has passed since the end of the sentence)
  • A custodial conviction of less than 12 months (unless10 years has passed since the end of the sentence)
  • A non-custodial conviction** within 3 years of the date of application

*Custodial convictions include time spent in MCTC

** non-custodial convictions include summary hearings/courts martial and any court-imposed fine (e.g. for speeding, assault or drink-driving). They do not include fixed penalty fines. They do include cautions and suspended sentences.

Is my military conviction the same as a criminal conviction?

Guidance has been published, which should make it much clearer to work out whether your conviction in a military court (whether a summary hearing or court martial) is considered to be criminal or disciplinary and how it will affect an application for citizenship.

You should read the guidance at this link carefully.

If you are still unsure about your conviction, then you should speak to your chain of command (platoon officer or OC, discipline clerk or RAWO).

The Home Office has tightened up on the overstaying part of the good character requirement. You are now likely to be refused Citizenship if you have overstayed at some point in the 10 years prior to an application for Citizenship, unless the overstaying was for less than 28 days prior to 2016. We are not aware of a discretion for soldiers. If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply you should contact the F&C team with full details of your immigration history.

The guidance booklet details other reasons why you may not meet the good character requirement. These include:

  • Debt and bankruptcy
  • Dishonesty (eg false claims for benefits)
  • Other immigration-related matters such as illegal working

You are advised to read the booklet to ensure your application will be successful.

Soldiers – soldiers applying on form AN are not required to show that they were in the UK at the start of the 5 year qualifying period. If you were serving overseas or were on training/deployment on the first day this will be treated as though you were in the UK.

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 2021, they will count the start of the 5 year qualifying period as the 2nd December 2016 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 2021, they will count the start of the 3 year qualifying period as the 2nd December 2018 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. See below for further information.

  • Lived in the UK (or on overseas assignment) for at least the 5 (or 3) years before the date of your application
  • Spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years (unless on an overseas assignment)
  • Spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months (unless on an overseas assignment)
  • 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).
  • Any time spent in the UK can be counted as residence, it does not matter what visa you had as long as you had a valid visa
  • Time spent outside the UK but not on overseas assignment does not count as residence

Unfortunately spouses of Gurkha soldiers are not able to count their time on an overseas assignment towards the residential requirement. The Home Office have confirmed that because Gurkhas are unable to apply for Citizenship during Service they cannot apply discretion to the spouses.
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.
We are aware of some spouses who have been granted Citizenship despite excess absences, because the caseworkers were not aware of the difference. However, we do not advise applying if you don’t meet the residential requirements as you are at risk of losing the application fee.

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03   Commonwealth soldiers

See below for a summary of the requirements that soldiers have to meet, for further detail refer to the Main Requirements section above. Click here for the link to apply online.

  • CAN apply for citizenship whilst serving as long as you have lived in UK (or on overseas assignments) for five years. When completing the online form you should write down all of your trips outside the UK – under ‘reason for trip’ you should write ‘Crown Service’ (unless you went outside the UK for non-Service reasons).
  • If you have spent more than 450 days out of the UK on overseas assignment complete the form as follows. In the box write I do not meet the residence requirements because I have spent more than 450 days outside the UK due to Armed Forces Service. I have provided a letter which confirms this.
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  • 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.
  • DO NOT need ILR first. When  you complete the online form select the following option and put in your date of enlistment
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  • DO have to meet the Knowledge of Language and Life requirement (KoLL), regardless of how long they may have served for (refer to the main requirements section above). If you have an English language qualification which has expired you won’t be able to use it as you won’t have used it in a previous application.
  • 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 been lawfully resident for the previous 10 years. Please refer to the ‘main requirements’ section above
  • DO have to pay the fee
  • DO NOT have to send your passport in, a scan of your passport can be sent in along with the other supporting documents
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04   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.

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05   Spouses (except spouses on EU settlement scheme)

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. There are no discretions in place for spouses of soldiers when applying for Citizenship except that outlined in the section on residence requirements above.

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Normal applications:

  • ILR for 12 months
  • Five years’ resident in UK (or on overseas assignments)
  • See ‘Main Requirements’ above

Spouse of British citizen soldier:

  • ILR
  • Three years’ resident in UK (or on overseas assignments)
  • See ‘Main Requirements’ above

Completing the online form – if you have spent more than 450/270 days out of the UK because you were accompanying your soldier on an overseas assignment complete the form as below. In the box write I do not meet the residence requirements because I have spent more than 450/270 days outside the UK due to Armed Forces Service. I have provided a letter which confirms this.  

You will need to provide a letter or some evidence which confirms the time you spent out of the UK was on assignment.

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06   EU/EEA spouses

You will need to meet all of the other requirements under the main requirements section above.

The guidance at this link on page 12 details the different ways you can prove settled status if you are an EU/EEA national.  

You should also be aware of the requirement to have held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance which is outlined at this link.

Please get in touch if you are unsure of your eligibility to apply.

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07   Children

The rules regarding a child’s eligibility for Citizenship are complex. The following scenarios cover most of the cases that the F&C team come across. If your case is not covered by the examples below then please get in touch with us at fcsupport@aff.org.uk

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  • Any child born legitimately in the UK to a parent who is in the Armed Forces is automatically a British Citizen. Click here – page 7
  • To get a passport you will just need to make a normal application, though it may be advisable to include a letter from the soldier’s unit confirming the soldier’s employment and date of enlistment.
  • It is not advisable to use a post office checking service as they will probably tell you your child is not eligible.

If a child is born overseas (regardless of location) and one of the parents is a British Citizen or is settled at the time of the birth, the child will be born British.

Information about this can be found on page 8 of the guide MN1.

  • If the child is born during an overseas assignment to British parents then the child will have full British Citizenship and can pass his/her Citizenship onto any children they have which are born overseas.
  • If the child is not born during an overseas assignment, 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.

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. Select the relevant category highlighted below on the online form:

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Children born before 13 Jan 2010: Eligible to be registered under section 1(3). Select the relevant category highlighted below on the online form:

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Apply on form MN1.

Complete the application at this link.

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 13 January 2010 you need to select the option below on the form MN1.

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– If your child was born overseas before 13 January 2010 you need to select the option below on the online form. It is also advisable to send the following document in with the application, click here.

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– 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.

– 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 2015DIN01-130 ‘Family Migration Rules for UK Armed Forces family members who are Non-British’

*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!

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 27 onwards of the following caseworker guidance here.

Main requirements:

  • The child has ILR. The guidance for caseworkers above says ‘you should normally only register a child under section 3(1) who has not been granted ILR or permanent residence where there are strong compelling compassionate circumstances to do so.’
  • 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). Parents with sole responsibility can apply once they are British themselves
  • The child is of ‘good character’ if aged over 10.
  • If the child is over 13 they have lived in the UK for at least 2 years (unless they were on an accompanied overseas assignment)

Complete the form MN1 and select the following option:

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08   BN(O) passport holders

2 options:

  • Form B(OTA)
    • 5 years resident in UK
    • Must have been physically in the UK on the first day of the 5 year period (any time overseas due to Crown Service after then can be counted as residence)
    • Have ILR for 12 months or an exempt stamp
    • You do not need to meet the KoLL requirement
    • Click here for guidance
  • Form B(OS)
    • Only available if you have evidence of no other nationality
    • Not full citizenship
    • No residential requirement or requirement to have ILR
    • Click here for guidance
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09   Dual Nationality

Click here for all information.

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10   I am an EEA national married to a British soldier, can I apply for Citizenship?

Refer to the guidance on our EU Nationals page.

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11   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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