British citizenship

Those who have been granted ILR no longer have any time limit on their rights to reside and work in the UK, and there is no requirement that they must apply for British citizenship. As ILR would be lost after living outside the UK for two years, however, some decide to apply to Naturalise as a British citizen.

Points to note:

  • Applicants must have held ILR for 12 months before applying to Naturalise as a British citizen;
  • Those married to, or the civil partner of, a UK national, however, can apply as soon as they have ILR;
  • The ‘continuous residence’ rules when applying to Naturalise are stricter than for ILR. Applicants must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days over the last 5 years, and no more than 90 days in last 12 months before applying. Unlike when applying for ILR, absences over the limit can sometimes be accepted by discretion;
  • There is a very strict rule that the applicant must have been physically in the UK on the first day of their five year qualifying period, counted back from the date they submit their online application. There is no discretion on this rule and the Home Office even highlight that if it is not met an application will be refused.
  • Children born in the UK after one or both parents have ILR are automatically British and can simply apply for a British passport;
  • Children born in the UK whose parent(s) are later granted ILR can Register as a British citizen and when this is granted then apply for a British passport.

More information on applying to Naturalise as a British citizen is found in Home Office guidance.

Dual nationality

Some countries do not permit their citizens to hold dual nationality and when granted British citizenship they would lose their own citizenship. Some other countries require applicants to give notice that they are applying for another nationality, or to submit an application to retain their own citizenship.

The Staff Immigration Team (SIT) recommends that applicants check with their own embassy or consulate whether their country permits dual nationality, and if they need to follow any other processes, to carefully consider these issues before applying for British citizenship.


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