British Citizenship by Marriage

If your partner is a British citizen and you see your future in the UK, you may be considering gaining British citizenship through marriage. This type of naturalisation application is dependent on satisfying a number of requirements, so it’s smart to seek legal help when you begin your application. Latitude Law has helped a wealth of people successfully gain citizenship through marriage, and will be happy to assist you through the process.

For expert legal advice on how to get British citizenship by marriage, speak to our expert immigration team. Call us today on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London). Alternatively, fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time specified by you.

Who can apply for citizenship by marriage?

You can apply for citizenship by marriage if you are married or in a civil partnership with someone who is a British citizen. You must also:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have lived in the UK for the past three years, and do not have excessive absences in that period
  • Have been granted indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence here
  • Be of good character, proven by two referees

You must also prove that:

  • You can speak English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an intermediate level, B1 CEFR
  • You were in the UK exactly three years before the day the Home Office receives your application
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test
  • You have not lived in the UK in breach of immigration laws for a period of up to 10 years preceding the date of your naturalisation application
  • You are of good character, details of which are found in naturalisation guidance

If you’re from the European Economic Area (EEA), you must be able to produce confirmation that you hold permanent residence in the UK in accordance with EEA regulations and have since obtained settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

How long do I need to be married before applying for citizenship?

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for British citizenship by ‘naturalisation’ if you have lived in the UK for at least three years before the date of your application. You should also have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Keep in mind that immigration rules and policies can change, so it is advisable to consult expert immigration lawyers – such as those at Latitude – for the most current information on how to obtain British citizenship.

Can I apply for citizenship if I’m in a civil partnership or unmarried partnership?

You can apply for British citizenship if you’re in a civil partnership. The requirements are generally the same as those for people who are married to British citizens. You would typically need to have lived in the UK for at least three years and have indefinite leave to remain or settled status.

For those in an unmarried partnership, the situation is slightly different. Being in an unmarried partnership does not grant you any specific advantages for citizenship applications. You would generally need to meet the standard requirements for naturalisation, which usually include living in the UK for at least five years and having indefinite leave to remain for at least one year before applying for citizenship.

Who can be a British citizenship referee?

You will require two referees to confirm that you are of good character. One must be a British passport holder over the age of 25; the other must be a professional person, not necessarily British.

A referee cannot be your British spouse or anyone personally related to you. They also cannot be the lawyer who is handling your citizenship application.

What is the process of getting British citizenship by marriage?

After you have made sure you are eligible, you must make an online application to the Home Office. You must provide supporting documentation and pay the relevant fee.

Applications typically take four to six months to be decided; there is unfortunately no priority option available. You are permitted to travel abroad while waiting for a decision on your citizenship application.

If your application is successful, you will be required to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will swear allegiance to His Majesty the King and receive a certificate of British citizenship. Following this, you must send a biometric residence permit (BRP) to the Home Office within five working days. Your solicitor will help you to arrange this. If you fail to send this to the Home Office within this deadline, you may receive a fine of up to £1,000.

How long does the application process take?

The time frame for processing British citizenship applications can vary and is subject to a range of factors, such as the complexity of your case and the current volume of applications. However, it generally takes around three to six months from the time you submit your application to when you receive a decision. This does not include the time it may take to gather all your documents, pass the Life in the UK test, or meet any other pre-application requirements.

How we can help

Our immigration experts will help you understand obtaining citizenship through marriage to your partner – in plain English. They can advise and assist you at every step, ensuring your application isn’t rejected due to an oversight or technicality.

We also know applying to the Home Office can make you feel like just a case number. So we work hard to understand your application on a personal level because we believe your unique circumstances as a couple are key to unlocking your future in the UK.

Why choose Latitude Law?

Applying for citizenship through marriage can sometimes be a stressful and worrying process. So it helps to have reliable legal guidance on board. Latitude Law has a wealth of knowledge in this area of law, allowing us to provide expert support with Home Office policy, case law and the laws that govern citizenship by marriage in the UK. We make sure that we pull out all the stops to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

Contact us

Contact us today to arrange an initial consultation with a specialist immigration solicitor.

Call our Manchester team on 0044 161 234 6800 or our London team on 0044 207 046 7185, or complete our online contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

FAQs about British citizenship by marriage

When can you apply for British citizenship?

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can apply for British citizenship once you have lived in the UK for at least three years, and you have been granted settlement or indefinite leave to remain. You cannot apply for British citizenship by marriage living abroad as you must have lived in the UK for five years.

Do I meet the eligibility criteria for British citizenship by marriage?

If you are unsure as to whether you meet the criteria for British citizenship listed earlier on this page, call our team today and we will help you to assess your circumstances.

What are the residency requirements for British citizenship by marriage?

You must have lived in the UK for at least three years when you submit your citizenship application. You are permitted absences of up to 270 days in that three-year period, and 90 days in the last 12 months, although there is discretion to allow longer absences, subject to your circumstances. For example, you may have been stranded outside the UK due to COVID travel restrictions. If your absences are at or above these limits, you should seek expert advice before applying.

What tests do I have to take to achieve British citizenship?

To be eligible for British citizenship, you will need to pass the Life in the UK test, and prove that you are proficient in the English language. Those from majority English-speaking countries don’t have to prove English proficiency, but must still pass the Life in the UK test. You can take these tests at any time before you make a citizenship application. The Life in the UK test can be attempted as many times as you like, but each attempt will require you to pay a fee. British language tests will also require you to pay a fee of around £150, depending on the provider.

You will not need to take either of these tests if you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65, or if you have medical or other grounds for seeking an exemption.

Can I still get British citizenship by marriage if my spouse has died?

You cannot apply for citizenship if your partner dies before you submit your application as your eligibility relies on your partner’s status. If you hold limited permission to stay in the UK based on your marriage, and your partner dies, you may be eligible to apply for settlement as a bereaved spouse.

How much does British citizenship by marriage cost?

The application fee for naturalisation is £1,330.

What British citizenship by marriage documents do I need to provide?

Our lawyers will provide you with a comprehensive list of supporting documents when preparing your citizenship application. The minimum documents required are typically as follows:

  • Proof of your identity, such as your passport
  • Your biometric residence permit (BRP)
  • Evidence of passing the Life in the UK and English Language tests
  • Proof of your spouse’s identity and citizenship
  • Your marriage or civil partnership certificate

How can I apply for my first British passport?

You can apply online or by post once you have received your naturalisation certificate.

What happens if my application is refused?

If British citizenship is refused by the Home Office, you may be able to request reconsideration of your application, for which a fee is payable. This is an internal Home Office review, and can take many months. You may re-apply, which is often more efficient, if your first application contained errors or missing documents.

Can I work or travel while my British citizenship application is being processed?

If you already have the right to work in the UK, through indefinite leave to remain or another form of visa, you can continue to work while your citizenship application is being processed. Your existing immigration status remains valid until a decision is made on your application.

You can travel outside the UK while your application is being processed, but it is generally not recommended. Leaving the UK for an extended period could raise questions about your commitment to living in the country, which is a requirement for naturalisation. Additionally, you may be called for an interview or be required to provide additional documentation, and failure to do so in a timely manner could harm your application. If you absolutely must travel, speak to our team for advice before making any decisions.

How long does it take to get UK citizenship by marriage?

The amount of time it will take you to get UK citizenship will depend on the complexity of your application and circumstances, but could be any length of time between three months and a year, provided you are eligible to begin the application process.

If I am married to a British citizen, can I get a British passport?

You must be a British citizen to get a British passport, meaning you must first apply for British citizenship and succeed to do so.

Can I get Scottish citizenship by marriage?

Scottish citizenship falls under British citizenship, meaning you cannot apply to be a Scottish national.

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What our clients say…

Complex British Nationality Application

"Many thanks to the amazing Latitude Law team, especially Katerina Woodcock, Gary McIndoe and Anna Sullivan, for expertly handling my passport application. Mine was a very complicated and multifaceted case, but thanks to the wonderful Latitude Law, I succeeded in getting my passport in a timely manner and would definitely recommend Latitude Law for any immigration or citizenship matters. When working with them, you can rest assured that you are in good hands."
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February 2024

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 17/09/2021