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21 Immigration and Nationality

Download Immigration and nationality (PDF File, 203kb)

1. Introduction

2. Do I need permission to come to the UK?

3. How is entry to the UK controlled?

4. What sort of permission do I need to come to the UK?

5. What if I want to work in the UK?

6. What restrictions are there after I´ve arrived in the UK?

7. What if I want to settle in the UK?

8. What if my application is refused?

9. What if I stay longer than I am allowed to?

10. Who has a right to British nationality?

11. How can I become a British citizen?

If you have been allowed to settle (stay here permanently), you can apply for citizenship under a process called 'naturalisation'. The two main ways of doing this are if you:

  • have lived in the UK for five years and have been settled here for the previous 12 months; or
  • are married to a British citizen, have lived here for three years, and are settled here. There is no minimum period for which you must be settled.

In either case, you may not be accepted if you have been outside the UK for more than three months, on average, in any one year. The Home Office will want to know that you have a good character and will check to see if you have a criminal record.

You will also usually need to show that you speak English well enough (or Welsh or Scots Gaelic). There are special rules about the level of English (or Welsh or Gaelic) you need, and how you prove this. The Home Office website has details of this, or you can ask for legal advice. You must also pass a test to show that you know about life in the UK. There is information about this test, and examples of the questions, on the special Home Office website (see 'Further Help').

If you want to become a British citizen, you can use an application form that you can get from immigration advice centres or the Home Office. You can also download the forms from the Home Office website (see 'Further help').

You can apply for children to be made citizens on their own or you can include them on your own application.

Most applications for naturalisation are accepted. But if yours is refused, you cannot appeal. The Home Office will explain why and will normally look at your case again if you think it has simply made a mistake. You can always apply again, but you will lose the fee you paid if your application is not successful.

When your application is accepted you will need to attend a ceremony in your local area, where you will make an official declaration about becoming British, and will then be given a certificate to show that you are a citizen.

12. Where can I get help with my immigration application?

13. Terms used in immigration and nationality matters

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet Version: June 2006

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