British Citizenship

ASK THE EXPERT | How does one qualify for British citizenship?


British Citizenship

Q: I have recently arrived in the UK and would like to find out how one qualifies for British citizenship?


A: In most cases in order to qualify for British citizenship, you would be required to complete 5 years lawful continuous stay on a visa leading to permanent residence, and a further 12 months with the status ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ or more commonly known as permanent residence, before you will be eligible to apply for British citizenship.

Visas and permits leading to permanent residence inter alia include; Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 work permit, the ancestry visa etc.

In some cases it is possible to qualify for permanent residence after three years, such as the Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Entrepreneur, if the applicant manages to create 10 jobs a year or have a turnover of £5 million in 3 years.

Visas like student visas and visitor visas are temporary visas and do not normally count towards your British citizenship if applying under the five year lawful continuous stay rule. One exception to this rule is where a person has been in the UK legally for a continuous period of ten years, at which time they can apply for permanent residence under the discretionary ‘ten year’ rule. The ten years may include time spent on temporary visas; such as the two-year working holiday visa, student visas and other temporary visas.

Under the new family immigration rules, if you are married to a British citizen or someone who holds Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, you will be able to apply for British citizenship after you have lived in the UK for six years on a lawful continuous stay, provided that you hold permanent residence at the time of your application.

Please contact our offices for more specific advice regarding your particular circumstances.

JP Breytenbach
Director of Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited or [email protected]