British Citizenship by Marriage

Marriage to a British citizen does not automatically grant the non-UK spouse British citizenship

British citizenship is attained by marriage through the process of naturalisation. The non-UK spouse must meet eligibility criteria under the nationality rules and apply for citizenship to the Home Office. In this guide, we explain the requirements and application to process to make an application for British citizenship by marriage. Once granted UK settlement, married individuals to British citizens can apply for British Citizenship immediately. In contrast, those unmarried to British citizens need 12 months of ILR or settled status before naturalization eligibility. 

You must also meet all of the requirements for British Citizenship through marriage. 

Eligibility for British citizenship by marriage 

To apply for British citizenship by marriage through the process of naturalisation you must satisfy all of the following criteria: 

  • Be aged 18 or over. 
  • Be married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen. 
  • Be of sound mind 
  • Be of good character 
  • Be able to communicate in English and have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK
  • Have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years before you apply and meet the residence requirements. 

As a spouse of a British citizen, you can apply to naturalise as soon as you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, a permanent residence card or settled status under the EU settlement scheme. 

Indefinite leave to remain status 

Holding status as a permanent resident is a mandatory prerequisite for naturalisation. You must have been living in the UK as a permanent resident for at least three continuous years prior to the date of your application in order to be eligible for British citizenship by marriage. This would usually be through holding either one of the following: 

Residency requirements 

To satisfy the residence requirements you must not have had more than 270 days outside the UK in the 3-year period, and you must not have had more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 months immediately preceding the date you submit the application. 

Excessive absences are a common ground for citizenship refusals. If you are concerned that you have breached the threshold or may be borderline, take advice to understand the implications on your eligibility. 

A further specific requirement is evidencing that you were present in the UK exactly 3 years before the date the Home Office receives your application. 

You must also be free from immigration restrictions at the time of making your application, and not have been in breach of the immigration rules during the whole of the residential qualifying period. 

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