In order to apply for British citizenship you would normally need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) / Permanent residency/settlement status. This means you are free from immigration time restrictions and there will no longer be any restrictions on your ability to work and study in the United Kingdom. 

Settlement can be obtained through various ways such as the completion of:

  • 5-year parent/partner route. See the details.
  • 10-year family and private life routes. See the details.
  • 5 years of Refugee / humanitarian Protection. See the details.
  • Points-based system such as being on a skilled worker visa for 5 years or a combination of other approved PBS visas. 
  • 10-year Long Residency – this is a combination of leaves in various routes and having a continuous lawful residence.
  • 5-year settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

Other than the residency and suitability requirements, explained in previous sections, you will have to meet the Knowledge of language and life in the UK (KoLL) unless exempt. 


What is Knowledge of language and life in the UK?

1- Knowledge of the English language
  • are a national of a majority English speaking country
  • have passed an approved speaking and listening Secure English Language Test (SELT) at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
  • have an academic degree equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above, taught in English
2- Knowledge of life in the UK 
  • an applicant must have successfully completed the test operated by a provider approved for this purpose.
  • This is a multiple choice test with a result of ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ and provided with a unique reference number.


Exemptions from meeting KoLL:

  • age being below 18 or 65 and over
  • a physical or mental condition. 
There are also certain categories you do not need to meet this requirement when applying for settlement such as:
  • applying for ILR as a refugee/ humanitarian protection
  • applying for ILR on the basis of discretionary leave
  • victims of domestic violence
  • applying for ILR as a stateless person



Citizenship by adults

  • British citizenship is obtained through ‘naturalization’ by attending a ceremony. The most crucial requirements for British citizenship are:
  • Lawful residency period. This depends on when you arrived in the UK and obtained a settlement. For example, for those married to a British citizen you need to satisfy 3-year residency requirement as opposed to 5 years.
  • Absences from the UK within your residency period which should not exceed a certain threshold depending on your category.
  • English language ability through B1 CEFR unless exempt
  • Life in the UK Test
  • Good character requirement which includes breach of immigration laws and that of criminal. This can be waived in certain circumstances.
  • Complete the residency period for offenses committed for which you have received a sentence. Remember this can also include a non-custodial such as fines or even suspended sentences.

Two ‘referees’ who can prove your identity

If you have passed the English language test for your indefinite leave to remain application, then you do not need to do it again.

 Citizenship by Birth

This category is mainly for children but can be done by adults as well. Children do not need to attend a ceremony and go through the process of naturalization. 

  • At the time of birth, a child must have at least one parent living in the UK who is either a British national or holds settled status.
  • The person was born in the UK and completed the first 10 years of residence in the UK. 

► There are other ways where children can ‘register’ as British citizens for example your child was born abroad. 


All applicants for British citizenship must provide two referees to establish their identity.

The referee must:  

  • have known the (adult) applicant for at least 3 years 
  • a British passport holder and either a professional person or aged over 25 (at least one referee must be a professional person)  

The referee must not: 

  • be related to the applicant or the other referee  
  • be the applicant’s representative  
  • be employed by the Home Office  
  • have been convicted of an imprisonable offense in the last 10 years for which the sentence is not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974  

For child applicants at least one of the referees must be a person who has dealt with the child in a professional role such as a teacher, doctor, health visitor, or social worker. Where a child cannot provide a referee who has dealt with them in a professional capacity and has provided documents to show that they have attempted to do so, you can accept 2 referees who meet the criteria for referees on adult applications. 

Contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers to know who is an ‘acceptable professional person’ and know more how to obtain British nationality.


  • NTL – transfer of ILR to Biometric residence permit
  • TOC- transfer of limited leave to Biometric residence permit
  • Ancestry applications
  • Windrush applications
  • UK ENIC (former NARIC) conversion of academic certificates

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