The most common method of obtaining British citizenship is through naturalisation. In order to be eligible, the person applying for naturalisation must:
- be aged at least 18
- be of 'good character' (eg no serious or recent criminal record or immigration offences)
- continue to live in the UK
- pass tests which demonstrate their knowledge of English language and life in the UK (Life in the UK test)
Further requirements relate to residence. The applicant should have:
- lived in the UK for at least 5 years - with no more than 450 days spent abroad within this time
- not spent more than 90 days abroad within the last 12 months
- had permanent residence status for at least the last 12 months (EEA citizens) - this will only be the case if you apply before 31 December 2020
had settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme - if you are applying after 31 December 2020
- had settlement/indefinite leave to remain in the UK for at least the past 12 months (non-EEA citizens)
To apply you usually need to wait 12 months after getting settled status or indefinite leave to remain. For further information on eligibility requirements see guidance from the Home Office.
Spouses of British citizens
The eligibility requirements for spouses of British citizens are broadly the same as for those who are not. The main difference is that it is only necessary to have lived in the UK for at least 3 years (instead of 5 years). For more information see the government website.