How Long Does A UK Citizenship Application Take?

How Long Does A UK Citizenship Application Take?

When you apply for British citizenship, it’s natural to be anxious about how long the process will take. For most UK citizenship applicants, you’ll get a decision within six months of applying.

But there are lots of factors to note when it comes to how long your citizenship application will take. In this article, we’ll explore:

  • What a typical citizenship application timeline looks like
  • What can impact your citizenship timeline
  • Whether you can fast track or speed up your UK citizenship application.

British citizenship application timeline

The timeline for British naturalisation depends on a few factors, including:

Whether you’re married or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen.
Whether you have indefinite leave to remain.
Your country of origin, and whether it’s in the EU.

Here’s the typical timeline for becoming a naturalised British citizen if you’re a Commonwealth or EU national and you’re not the spouse of a UK citizen.

Year 1: You arrive in the UK as a resident

If you have a UK visa type that gives you permission to live here for a defined period, the date you arrive in the UK is important to remember.

This is the date that your UK residency begins, so you’ll need to take this into account when calculating when you can apply for British citizenship.

Example: You arrive in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa on 1st March 2023. This is the start date of your UK residency. You may need to extend your visa, depending on how long it’s valid.

Year 5: You become eligible for indefinite leave to remain

After five years of continuously living in the UK, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled status (if you’re from an EU country).

That means you can live permanently in the UK without having to renew your visa, as long as you meet certain conditions (e.g. you don’t leave the UK for longer than two years).

You can apply for ILR status 28 days before your five year residence anniversary. It usually takes around six months for a decision to be made on your ILR application.

Example: Your residency began on 1st March 2023, so you can apply for ILR status from 1st February 2028.

Year 6: You become eligible for UK citizenship

One year after your ILR status is granted, you can apply for UK citizenship. This isn’t mandatory, but many people choose to do so as it gives you more rights, such as the right to vote in UK elections.

You can apply for citizenship when you’ve had ILR status for 12 months. You must also have been physically present in the UK exactly five years before you submit your citizenship application.

Example: You’re granted indefinite leave to remain on 15th July 2028. You can apply for citizenship from 15th July 2029, provided you were physically present in the UK on 15th July 2024.

British citizenship timeline variations

If you fall into another category besides those mentioned above, the timeline for becoming a UK citizen is slightly different:

  • If you’re the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, you can apply for naturalisation as soon as you’re granted indefinite leave to remain (i.e. there’s no need to wait an additional 12 months).
  • If you’re from a non-Commonwealth or non-EU country, you can apply for ILR after ten years of continuous residence in the UK, and citizenship one year after ILR is granted.

Can I speed up my British citizenship application?

There aren’t yet any ways to speed up your UK citizenship application decision.

However, if you’re at the stage of seeking indefinite leave to remain, UKVCAS (the UK Visa and Citizen Application Services) does allow you to pay for a fast track service, which means you can get a decision in just five days.

While this won’t speed up your naturalisation process, it does mean you might be able to apply for citizenship sooner. For example, let’s say you apply for ILR on 1st June 2023. Rather than waiting until 1st December for a decision, you can get a decision within five working days.

Assuming your ILR application is approved, you’ll be eligible to apply for UK citizenship from June 2024, rather than December 2024.

See a full list of visas that are eligible for fast-track decisions.

How long does a UK citizenship application take?

There are lots of different components to a UK citizenship application, and you’ll need to submit plenty of evidence to support it. So the amount of time it takes to complete your application depends on the evidence you already have.

Evidence you might need to gather includes:

  • Proof of your English language skills.
  • Life in the UK test certificate.
  • Proof of identity, such as a passport.
  • Proof of ILR or settled status.
  • A marriage or civil partnership certificate.
  • Information about any time you’ve spent outside the UK since you’ve been living here.
  • Proof of residency from when you arrived in the UK.

It can take several months to collect all the evidence you need for a successful citizenship application. Passport applications may take three or four months to be approved and received in the UK. If you’re not a native English speaker, you may need to take a test to prove your language skills. Plus, it’s generally recommended that you give yourself at least one month to prepare for the Life in the UK test.

If you’re thinking of becoming a naturalised British citizen in the future, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and start preparing for your application now.

How to track a UK naturalisation application

You can track your citizenship application by calling UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) directly. Call from inside or outside the UK:

  • Inside the UK: 0300 790 6268
  • Outside the UK: +44 20 3875 4669

Have your unique application number to hand when you call.

Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to track your application online. You can’t track your citizenship application through UKVCAS.

How do I know if my citizenship application has been approved in the UK?

UKVI will contact you when your application decision has been made, whether it’s been approved or declined.

They may also contact you if they need more information to make a decision.

Learn more about life as a UK citizen

Getting a decision on your UK citizenship application is a waiting game. In the meantime, browse the Bloom Learning Hub to find out more about what life is like as a UK citizen. Here are some articles you might find useful:

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